Laodicea: the Plastic Church
By Joseph Chambers
The Emerging Church, as it has been named, could not fit the Biblical prophecy of Laodicea more perfectly. This model of the apostate church is said by men that are wiser than I am to represent 95 to 98 percent of the church world. To understand this horrible statistic we must look deeper than a surface view of beautiful people entering ornate churches. Even John the Revelator was fooled. Are we wiser than this rock of the saints? The pure revelation of Christ stated, “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration” (Revelation 17:6).
The word emerging as it is applied to the modern churches does more to hide the problem than to expose it. Let’s use a different word that will tell the true story. This emerging church is a soulical church that has forsaken the spiritual life and lost all respect for the Holy Spirit’s mastery. It is a church that elevates the power of personality and human wisdom to the level of almost perfect dominance. What is worse than this soulical control is their practice of calling this soulical power a move of the Holy Spirit. The writers of our New Testament spoke with clear denunciation of such deception. First, we must understand the concept of soulical powers.
The soul itself is not an evil part of man or even a part to be rejected within the life of the church. Our soul is the seat of self. It can be and was intended to be a beautiful part of the human creation. Our God “breathed into his (man’s) nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The living soul, when it is redeemed and sanctified, will glow with the life of Christ. Nothing about our testimony and impact for Christ is greater than living a life so full of Jesus Christ that we strike a chord of hunger to all those in our influence. The Father intended that His saints be His light in the world. The soul or personality must be a part of this beautiful expression of His love.
But, that same soul was corrupted in Adam’s sin and became the seat of corruption in every person born to man. This nature of sin is conveyed to every child and we are born into sin (Psalm 51:5). This personality can be trained to yield to the corrupt power in our unredeemed state or it can be converted, born again, and given to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There is no middle ground; it is one or the other. Our present church world has come to be dominated by unredeemed or unsanctified souls. These are religious people, very sincere and capable of pushing their agenda onto the church world. The soul was created by God and is innately religious even without being born again.
Look at the phenomena within the church world that has occurred in our lifetime. There has been one fad after another. Religious television and the mass media take each fad and exploit it to the extreme and then we watch it fade. Notice how “fads” turns into “fades.” Jim Bakker and PTL was one of the first fads that I remember. Then, we had “The Prayer of Jabez,” the “God Chasers,” TBN and Paul Crouch, and then Rick Warren and his “Purpose Driven Life” phenomena. These are nothing but religious fads with short lives.
It is soulical religion that would die before it was born if it was not for the soulical personalities that give life to each movement. The length of life of all soulical movements depends on the strength and tenacity of the personalities that control them. Remove the controlling person and death to the fad occurs almost instantaneously. Consider what would happen to the “Purpose Driven Life” craze if Rick Warren was eliminated from the scene. It would be dead in thirty days.
Please do not consider me a critic. These are not bad people with dark motives; they are simply strong personalities that conceived a religious idea which struck a chord with the religious world. We are all guilty of reaching for some fresh idea to give a little luster to our Christ-lacking religious life. What we need is a baptism of the resurrected life of our Lord Jesus Christ and all fads will fade as Jesus Christ takes control. All of this fancy religion that the church world has embraced has left us weary and empty. Churches that do not have a personality pastor do not have a chance of survival in this sick environment of soulical religion.
Apostle Paul warns us of this trend which he rejected in his day. Read carefully! “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:1-5). It is evident in these words that this apostle was rejecting the powers of the soulical man that could control others by his/her personality. He wanted every man mature in Christ, not taken with the wisdom of men.
He speaks to this again in his second letter to Corinth. It has always been a problem in the religious world. Unconverted men and women can be just as religious as the Godly. Our present day world is almost totally controlled by unconverted people that glory in their great facade and have no idea of the poison they represent. The apostle said, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (II Corinthians 4:1-5). The Holy Spirit of Christ is calling us back from soulical manipulation to a total honoring of Holy Scripture and the author of that Scripture, the Father’s Holy Spirit.
It will require the sanctification of the seat of self – the soul. We must seek to be sanctified body, soul, and spirit as it is so beautifully taught to the church of the Thessalonians. “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (I Thessalonians 5:16-24).
Joseph R. Chambers