by David Robertson, Christian Today:
Genesis 11 tells us the fascinating story of the tower of Babel. Humanity was setting itself up against God and as part of that decided to build a skyscraper. God’s means of frustrating this is revealing – “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” The plan worked. Humanity was divided and scattered.
Melvin Tinker, an Anglican vicar, uses the imagery of the tower of Babel, together with that of CS Lewis’s brilliant and prophetic That Hideous Strength, to demonstrate the particular route our culture is going down. Tinker’s book, The Hideous Strength, How the West was Lost, is an important and essential work of for understanding our culture. It is just being republished in an expanded edition.
He shows how the tower of Babel remains a pattern for human rebellion against God. Chronological snobbery (the latest is the greatest etc) can blind us to insights from previous generations. Tinker argues that communalism (where group rather than individual identity reigns), constructionism (using language to deconstruct God and create our own gods) and connectivity (using one language to connect to one another and enable their rebellion against God) are typical of that rebellion.
I think this statement does need some qualification, however. There is a communalism (the church) that is good, a constructionism (building the Kingdom of God and caring for the earth), which is constructive, not destructive, and a connectivity (the tongues of Pentecost which proclaim the Gospel of Jesus rather than the tongues of Babel) that is positive. But Tinker is right to argue that Babylon tries to imitate Jerusalem.