The Tower of Babel Story Continues

We see the effects of the Tower of Babel on earth. As Christian believers, we know the cure for all of this, too.

The Tower of Babel story is the fourth of the sin stories we see in the Book of Genesis. The first, of course, is the sin of Adam and Eve. The second, is the story of the murder of Abel by his brother, Cain. And the third is the story of the Flood. The fourth story, the Tower of Babel story, represents the ego-driven attempt by human beings to replace God with their own ingenuity, their own ‘wisdom’, their own presumed power. The effects of all of these stories, all of which flow from the consequences of the sin of pride, continues to spread to this day.

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As we read in the 11th Chapter of Genesis, “The whole world had the same language and the same words.” And they said to one another, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves” (Gen 11: 1 and 4). This kind of attitude is not unfamiliar to us today, is it. They began to forget about God and they began to think that they made the rules, that they could control their own destinies, that by technology and science, they could be like gods and make ‘a name for themselves.’ The end result was that their pride only preceded their ultimate fall. God destroyed their tower, and they were no longer able to communicate with one another. Confusion and suspicion, enmity and war came between them and they were scattered all over the earth.

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The chaos that swirls around us today is simply the continuation of the effects of this sin story in our own times. We see it, for example, in our current political and social divisions. We see it in the prideful manipulation of words in all areas of our social, moral, economic, and even our religious lives. This inability even to agree on the meaning of words divides us more and more. All too often we claim to possess in ourselves the absolute power to define truth, according to our personal worldview, and our own personal vocabularies, without depending on any ‘authority’ outside of ourselves. In our own pride we condemn others who do not accept our descriptions of the truth and we identify them, then, as fools, dimwits, or worse, as ‘enemies.’

Like the people in the time of the Tower of Babel, our inability to understand one another, much less to agree with one another, continues to divide us and to cause fear, mistrust, and confusion among us. And this is true in every part of our social, political, intellectual, and moral lives. And saddest of all, it is the source of our divisions in our spiritual lives.

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Today, language is being ever more distorted by the ever more screechy demands of current, finite, and fashionable ideologies. Intellect, knowledge, and the ability to discern the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, are all distorted by this ever-growing and prideful manipulation and confusion of language. Language, the great gift from God to humanity that makes us unique in his creation, truly does have the unique and powerful capacity to bring about mutual understanding. But in our day, as in the time of the Babel story, it has become a source for further confusion and enmity.

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Sadly, we see the effects of the Tower of Babel, even in the Church, the very Body of Christ on earth. But as Christian believers, we know the cure for all of this, too. We know that the greatest vice, the sin from which all other sins descend, is pride. And we know its remedy, humility, that is, the kind of humility that is modeled by the Son of God himself, Jesus Christ. Sadly, this babble that currently divides the Christian Church is not of Christ, the Son of the living God, but of the one who eternally defies Christ.

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The Church, the Body of Christ, must be the first to humbly heal its wounds and divisions, and be identified by the world as a real, observable, existential ‘community’ of grace, holiness, mercy, forgiveness, and love. Only then will the world hear the word of God clearly and authoritatively. When that happens, the Holy Spirit will descend on the whole world and unite all of humanity with the eternal, joyful community we know as the Holy Trinity. Let us all pray for that unity in Jesus’ most Holy Name. Amen.

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