A profession of religion has become popular with the world. Rulers, politicians, lawyers, doctors, merchants, join the church as a means of securing the respect and confidence of society, and advancing their own worldly interests. Thus they seek to cover all their unrighteous transactions under a profession of Christianity. The various religious bodies, re-enforced by the wealth and influence of these baptized worldlings, make a still higher bid for popularity and patronage. Splendid churches, embellished in the most extravagant manner, are erected on popular avenues. The worshipers array themselves in costly and fashionable attire. A high salary is paid for a talented minister to entertain and attract the people. His sermons must not touch popular sins, but be made smooth and pleasing for fashionable ears. Thus fashionable sinners are enrolled on the church-records, and fashionable sins are concealed under a pretense of godliness. . . .
Says Howard Crosby: “The church of God is today courting the world. Its members are trying to bring it down to the level of the ungodly. The ball, the theater, nude and lewd art, social luxuries with all their loose moralities, are making inroads into the sacred inclosure of the church; and as a satisfaction for all this worldliness, Christians are making a great deal of Lent and Easter and church ornamentation. It is the old trick of Satan. The Jewish church struck on that rock; the Romish church was wrecked on the same; and the Protestant is fast reaching the same doom.” [Emphasis supplied.]
In this tide of worldliness and pleasure-seeking, self-denial and self-sacrifice for Christ’s sake are almost wholly lost. “Some of the men and women now in active life in our churches were educated, when children, to make sacrifices in order to be able to give or to do something for Christ.” But “if funds are wanted now, . . . nobody must be called on to give. Oh, no! have a fair, tableaux, a mock trial, an antiquarian supper, or something to eat, anything to amuse the people.”
Governor Washburn of Wisconsin, in his annual message, declared “that church fairs, charitable raffles, concert lotteries for charitable and other purposes, prize packages, ‘grabbags,’ Sabbath-school and other religious chances by ticket, are nurseries of crime, inasmuch as they promise something for nothing, are games of chance, and are really gambling. He says that the pernicious spirit of gambling is fostered, encouraged, and kept alive by these agencies to a degree little known by good citizens; and that, but for them, the ordinary laws against gambling would be much less violated and much more easily enforced. These practices, he declares, ought not to be permitted any longer to debauch the morals of the young.”
The spirit of worldly conformity is invading the churches throughout Christendom. . . . “Apostasy, apostasy, apostasy, is engraven on the very front of every church; and did they know it, and did they feel it, there might be hope; but, alas! they cry, ‘We are rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing.’ [Revelation 3:17.]” [Emphasis in original.]
The great sin charged against Babylon is that she “made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” [Revelation 14:8.] This cup of intoxication which she presents to the world, represents the false doctrines that she has accepted as the result of her unlawful connection with the great ones of the earth. Friendship with the world corrupts her faith, and in her turn she exerts a corrupting influence upon the world by teaching doctrines which are opposed to the plainest statements of Holy Writ. . . .
When faithful teachers expound the Word of God, there arise men of learning, ministers professing to understand the Scriptures, who denounce sound doctrine as heresy, and thus turn away inquirers after truth. Were it not that the world is hopelessly intoxicated with the wine of Babylon, multitudes would be convicted and converted by the plain, cutting truths of the Word of God. But religious faith appears so confused and discordant, that the people know not what to believe as truth. The sin of the world’s impenitence lies at the door of the church. . . .
The message of the second angel did not reach its complete fulfillment in 1844. The churches then experienced a moral fall, in consequence of their refusal of the light of the Advent message; but that fall was not complete. As they have continued to reject the special truths for this time, they have fallen lower and lower. Not yet, however, can it be said that “Babylon is fallen, . . . because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” She has not yet made all nations do this. The spirit of world-conforming and indifference to the testing truths for our time exists and has been gaining ground in churches of the Protestant faith in all the countries of Christendom; and these churches are included in the solemn and terrible denunciation of the second angel. But the work of apostasy has not yet reached its culmination.
The Bible declares that before the coming of the Lord, Satan will work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness;” and they that “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” will be left to receive “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” [11 Thessalonians 2:9–11.] Not until this condition shall be reached, and the union of the church with the world shall be fully accomplished, throughout Christendom, will the fall of Babylon be complete. The change is a progressive one, and the perfect fulfillment of Revelation 14:8 is yet future.
Notwithstanding the spiritual darkness, and alienation from God, that exist in the churches which constitute Babylon, the great body of Christ’s true followers are still to be found in their communion. There are many of these who have never seen the special truths for this time. Not a few are dissatisfied with their present condition, and are longing for clearer light. They look in vain for the image of Christ in the churches with which they are connected. As these bodies depart farther and farther from the truth, and ally themselves more closely with the world, the difference between the two classes will widen, and it will finally result in separation. The time will come when those who love God supremely can no longer remain in connection with such as are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” [11 Timothy 3:4, 5.]
Revelation 18 points to the time when, as the result of rejecting the threefold warning of Revelation 14:6–12, the church will have fully reached the condition foretold by the second angel, and the people of God still in Babylon will be called upon to separate from her commu-nion. This message is the last that will ever be given to the world; and it will accomplish its work. When those that “believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteous-ness,” [11 Thessalonians 2:12] shall be left to receive strong delusion, and to believe a lie, then the light of truth will shine upon all whose hearts are open to receive it, and all the children of the Lord that remain in Babylon will heed the call, “Come out of her, my people.” [Revelation 18:4.]” The Great Controversy (1888), 386–390.
Ellen G. White (1827–1915) wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books during her lifetime. Today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. She is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. White was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world’s attention to the Holy Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ’s second advent.