Does the Church Require Another Reformation? Part 3 “Laodicean Trends”
“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump..”
While this teaching series makes the case that we’re in the Laodicean church age, particularly since the end of WWII, I want to make it clear that just because apostasy is one of the signs of the times, not all churches will fit the profile. The following statement would be a “Straw Man” fallacy: “we live in the Laodicean church age, therefore every church that appears to be doing well financially is under God’s judgment.” A “Straw Man” fallacy is to state the extreme position of a viewpoint and argue against it (create a straw man, then burn it down).) An example would be to make the point that Martin Luther wrote the anti-Semitic treatise “On the Jews and Their Lies”, therefore all Lutherans are anti-Semitic. That would be false. Another example would be to state that Stalin was an atheist, therefore all atheists are genocidal sociopaths with no moral compass. This would also be false.
Now that we have that caveat out of the way, let’s look at some troublesome church trends that have developed since WWII. A trend is a direction in which something is going and it’s important to note that these “trends” are not exclusive denominationally such as a Baptist vs Lutheran, they are false gospels being filtered down to local churches through books and guest speakers. A number of books and documentaries have been written about these trends, so these are very brief definitions.
1. Church Growth Movement
The “Church Growth” movement started in 1930’s and attributed to Donald McGavran. 1 While this may have been well intentioned, it led to a “business model” system of growth pertaining to creating programs, products and services that the consumer wants to take part in with the hopes that they will join the church in question. It is using a methodology applicable to business growth to fund the growing expenses of maintaining building and staffing costs of a local church. While programs are an important part of a local church in regards to teaching and discipleship, this concept set the church on a very slippery slope over the last 70 years.
2. Prosperity Gospel
Today, the “Prosperity Gospel” is associated with wealthy mega-church “positive thinking” pastors and evangelists such as Kenneth Copeland and Joel Osteen, this trend started in the healing “revivals” of the 1950’s. While taking Bible verses out of context for support, the system is based on “The Law Of Attraction” which is a New Age thought of Occult practitioners where you conceptualize an idea in your mind and if you concentrate enough, one can bring this idea into reality. 2 This idea really took root in the 1980’s and is attributed to Robert Schuller who held Norman Vincent Peale in high regard. 3 It’s focused on wealth and prosperity with the belief that God will “bless us” with wealth if we’re truly followers. It amounts to a pyramid scheme where mega-church pastors and evangelists are extremely wealthy, but the average church attender is not.
3. Emergent Church
The “Emergent Church” started to develop in the 1990’s with leaders such as Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Church”, Brian McClaren, Rob Bell, Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and Tony Campolo being associated among many others. It’s built on the “Church Growth” movement in making the church relevant to western culture by adopting mystical practices such as “Contemplative Prayer”, universalism (Jesus is one of many ways to salvation) and social justice causes including aligning with the “Christian Palestinianism” at the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference.4 It’s referred to as a “post-modern” approach to Christianity where truth is relative, not absolute and individual churches have to be “seeker-sensitive” in order to grow. While there were a number of trends preceding the Emergent Church trend, this particular trend appears to have accelerated the slide from Biblical Christianity. Many authors have written many books and blogs highlighting the dangers of the Wide Gate that has been opened
4. New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)
This term was coined by theologian C. Peter Wagner and refers to what has been known as the “hyper-Charismatic” movement. It’s been built on the “signs and wonders” revivals, faith healers and mystical experiences. The “experiences” at these revivals have much in common with stage hypnosis brought on by repetitive music, lights and hypnotic suggestion. 5 While what is experienced in these meetings is subjective based upon the one participating, it’s also been pointed out that there is much in common with New Age and Eastern mysticism. 6 This movement is largely predicated upon the idea that the leaders are “God’s new apostles and prophets”. One might ask who appointed the office of “apostle” or “prophet” to them? Why they did of course. This has led to a number of instances of spiritual abuse.7 8 While one might think this is a “fringe” movement, it’s actually one of the fastest growing and influential trends to come about as it includes many popular churches including Bethel in Redding, CA. This is the home church of popular conference speaker, Bill Johnson and popular worship band: Jesus Culture Band. Conferences and revivals with those associated with the NAR attracts thousands of people and huge sales numbers.
While these are very brief overviews, it’s important to note that these trends are not independent of each other. They work together and all promote ecumenism with the Vatican, essentially undoing the Reformation. Each of them are very influential among the “Millennials” due to the excitement that the positive atmosphere and music generates.9 10 In the final entry in this series, we’ll wrap up with what this all means and what we can personally do.
1. Stetzer, Ed, et al. “What’s the Deal with the Church Growth Movement? (Part One).” The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer, www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/october/whats-deal-with- church-growth-movement-part-one.html.
2. El, Natalina. “Law of Attraction: A New Age Practice in the Modern Christian Church.” Extraordinary Intelligence, 6 Sept. 2014, extraordinaryintelligence.com/the-law-of-attraction/.
3. “Norman Vincent Peale Occult Origins | A Love of The Truth.” Amos 3:7 A Love of the Truth Prophecy & More!, 14 Oct. 2017, amos37.com/abnorm/.
4. WHAT IS CHRISTIAN PALESTINIANISM? WITH PAUL WILKINSON (PART 3). www.thebereancall.org/content/what-christian-palestinianism-paul-wilkinson-part-3.
5. “Ex-Faith Healer Mark Haville Explains the Tricks of the Fake Faith Healing Trade.” THE WORD onThe Word of Faith (a GroupBlog), 3 Dec. 2015, thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2009/05/26/ex-faith-healer/.
6. Strom, Andrew. “1- False Spirits Invade the Church – KUNDALINI WARNING – Andrew Strom -Part1.” YouTube, YouTube, 5 July 2010, www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBpw2oQrvMM.
7. “Mishel McCumber: Delivered from the Luciferian Gospel of Rick Joyner.” Pirate Christian Media, www.piratechristian.com/messedupchurch/2016/11/ daopr9p8hh7jw0jc7r2rzkpdndzsfq.
8. “Leaving the NAR Church.” Berean Research, bereanresearch.org/category/leaving-the-nar-church/.
9. Iverson, Glen. “Home.” Ephesians611com, www.ephesians611.com/music-brings-us- together-christian-music-and-eccumenism/.
10. Faull, Justen. “Jesuit Controlled Christian Music & The One World Church (EXTENDED EPISODE).” The 4th Watch with Justen Faull, 1 June 2016,