THE LAODICEAN AGE AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
Understanding the mechanics of spiritual delusion is a beginning. But delusion becomes magnified by blending with other forces in the world. For a fuller picture of the nature of spiritual delusion, we need to see how it is especially compounded when mixed with one particular force—the power of laodiceanism.
The word laodiceanism normally refers to a spiritual state of "lukewarmness" and complacency. It comes from Jesus' letter to the church of Laodicea (Rev. 3:15-22) where He rebukes a self-content but spiritually bankrupt people who are unwittingly near to being vomited out by Him. In today's circles, there is little debate that this description fits the present western church. Many agree that we are indeed living in the Laodicean Age, and that the Laodicean church of Rev. 3 represents the final church age prior to the coming of the Lord.
The end times converging of the Laodicean church age with today's mass devotion to the Comforter comes as no accident. It only makes sense that an era drunk on prosperity and spiritual blessing would also be an era in which the Spirit is received mainly for His need-fulfilling and pain-alleviating qualities. But there is much more to laodiceanism in relation to Comforter-worship than meets the eye.
-The Power of Laodicea
Laodiceanism is more than a spiritual condition of a church or church era. It is a world force that has infected the church. The word Laodicea comes from two Greek words which mean "the [self-evident] rights of the people" or "conformity to the will [rule, custom] of the people." It carries the idea of subjecting all individual wills to the will of society—eventually absorbing all individual identities into that of one collective group. Under laodiceanism the will of the group is the reference point for legitimate behavior to which all individuals must conform. The highest priority is the good of the society, without respect to the good of the individual.
Laodiceanism accomplishes individual conformity by the power of group consciousness. Group consciousness is a subtle force whereby we judge every personal thought and aspiration for whether it "fits" with what everyone else thinks. Individual uniqueness, incentive, and excellence are all subjected to the approval of our group awareness, also called "group think" or more commonly, "herd mentality." (For those who are familiar with the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series, I also call this the "Borg Mentality.")
Boiled down, laodiceanism is nothing more than corporate humanism—ie, the worship of the corporate man. It is the forced worship of society.
- Natural Laodiceanism
In the world, the name for laodiceanism is socialism, of which there are two main kinds. The disguised brand of socialism is called democracy while its straightforward counterpart is known as communism. Under communism, conformity to the group is a stated philosophy. It is illegal to be different. But under democracy, conforming the individual to society is a subtle affair carried out under a pretense of preserving individual freedom. Conformity here is achieved through peer pressures, quiet legal changes and mass media manipulation.
The word democracy is actually a Greek word which means "rule of the people," and is a virtual synonym for the name Laodicea. Laodiceanism became a world force in earnest when democracy was born over 200 years ago. Later, communism also became predominant. The common point to both however is that they each proclaim the supremacy of the will of the people in such a way as to neutralize the power of the individual.9
Whether democratic or communistic, socialism seeks to destroy individuality by deadening all personal sense of responsibility and ability to think critically. Socialism transfers responsibility for moral action and wrong doing from the individual to "the society." Responsibility for personal welfare is replaced by government. Personal liability for error and safety is replaced by an insurance industry and a suit-happy court system.
Socialist education replaces personal academic mastery with the guaranteeing of "equal outcomes" by dumbing down learning to the lowest common denominator. The end is that everyone is made to think alike and critical reasoning is destroyed—all under an implicit thought control system that punishes excellence or distinction. This is the driving power behind current political correctness theory, anti-discrimination legislation, and moral relativism philosophy.
- Religious Laodiceanism
Religious laodiceanism corresponds to natural laodiceanism. A laodicean church is a church where the will of God is ultimately defined by the will of the people or conformity to the standard of the people. In its forms and structures, this is seen clearly where church government is built on democratic principles—importing the ephod of parliamentary procedure to ascertain the mind of God (as well as to secure tax breaks.) The concepts of voting, committees, 2/3 majorities, quorums, and constitutions are all laodicean to the core.
The theology of laodiceanism is humanistic. It puts man's will and man's need at the center of God's plan of salvation. Emphasis is on what God wants to do for man. Man is seen as a victim of sin rather than a responsible agent—a theory aided by redefining sin as a disease rather than moral evil. (Notably, the great shift to man-centered theology occurred in the church at the same time that democracy became established in the world.)
But religious laodiceanism goes beyond form, structure and theology. On the relational level, it is a spiritual socialism which discourages individual pursuit of God and the development of unique identity in Christ. Under religious socialism, the individual's relationship to the church and to its leadership is held to be more important than his own relationship to God. Spirituality is measured by relationship to "the body." To contradict or deviate from the direction of the group is considered to be contrary to the will of God, the evidence of rebellion and spiritual pride.10
In the Laodicean church, a saint is just a statistic, a number in a faceless group where everyone is held to the same spiritual level lest an individual's passion expose the low level of the church and so create division. The watchwords of religious laodiceanism are "unity" and "love." But the unity is superficial and the love is hollow. This is because genuine transparent agape that leads to heartfelt relationship only comes from individual encounter with the Father—something which laodiceanism continuously discourages.11
As for authority, the Laodicean church is the church of Saul—a church where the course of leadership is determined by what keeps the congregation content. The prime requirements for leadership are to be smart with numbers and smooth with people. There is no clear reference point for what is true or false, no clear course in the direction of ministry. Truth is determined only by a group consensus in which no one is ultimately responsible for the consequences of decisions and actions. Responsibility for sin and shortcoming is shifted from party to party and office to office until it evaporates. Yet all are expected to submit to such leadership and to play a game of ascribing spiritual clothes to naked emperors.
- The Knowing of Man Versus the Knowledge of God
In its deepest sense, religious laodiceanism replaces our knowledge of God with the knowing of man. Identification with a faceless entity called the "church" replaces personal identification with the Lord. Our sense of belonging to the Lord becomes dependent on our belonging to a group of people. Within our own heart, the awareness of others becomes a silent mediator between us and the Lord. Through ceaseless involvement in ministry, the constant awareness of the body interposes like a thick veil that destroys the possibility of spiritual intimacy and communion with the Father. Our prayers are driven and distracted by the thoughts of others, their needs, their problems, and our relationships with them. We simply become incapable of being alone in our hearts with the Lord, unable to respond to Him apart from the awareness of other people.
[For a further introductory discussion of the power of group consciousness in the Laodicean Church Age, please go to the Addendum.]