[Listen to post here.]
~ ~ ~
We’ve been covering some rather significant material in the past seven posts…and we have some of the most relevant applications just ahead. Before we launch into a look at Protestantism as seen through the lens of C/E Spiritual Theory, though, I thought it would be good to take a brief interlude to review this teaching to this point.
Of all of the posts and series on this blog, this collection is surely one of the most central and essential of them all! I also understand that these teachings are exploring some rather unfamiliar territory for many and so before proceeding further, I want to make sure that the basic understanding of this “spiritual theory” has been communicated well and any major questions have been answered.
Which leads me to consider, “For someone encountering these teachings for the first time, what kind of questions might they ask?” The following is my response to that musing along with a concise answer to each of the questions that I feel are most pertinent to raise. I trust that this simple Q & A format will be both helpful in summarizing the ground that has been covered thus far, as well as to fill in some of the gaps in our understandings of this “spiritual theory” to this point.
And so, without further ado…
Q & A
» What is a “spiritual theory?” – The dictionary definition for the word “theory” that was shared in the second post of this collection is: “a coherent group of tested general propositions…that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena:” (excerpted from the Dictionary.com definition of “theory”.)
A “spiritual theory”, therefore, is a coherent group of spiritual propositions…that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of spiritual phenomena. This is in fact what “Christocentricity/Eccentricity Spiritual Theory” is and offers.
» What does “Christocentricity” mean? – The root word “Christocentric” means: “making Christ the center, about whom all things are grouped, as in religion or history; tending toward Christ, as the central object of thought or emotion.” (Webster Dictionary)
In regard to this spiritual theory, “Christocentricity” means that spiritual state in which Jesus Christ holds the place of unsurpassed supremacy in all things (Colossians 1:18) and in which all things are rightly related and oriented to Christ as to the unrivaled Center, according to the eternal purpose and pleasure of the Father. (Ephesians 1:9-10)
» What does “eccentricity” mean? – The root word “eccentric” means: “Deviating or departing from the center. Not having the same center.” (Webster Dictionary)
In regard to this theory, then, spiritual “eccentricity” means that spiritual state where there is a deviating and departing from the centrality of Christ in all things through the inordinate ascribing of supremacy and centrality to something or someone other than Jesus Christ.
» How would one concisely summarize “Christocentricity/Eccentricity Spiritual Theory”? – “Christocentricity/Eccentricity Spiritual Theory” proposes and predicts that wherever Christ Himself is ultimately and universally esteemed as central and supreme in all things related to the life and assembly of God’s people, that the Christocentric spiritual fruit of unity, fullness, balance, and purity will become increasingly embodied and expressed. Conversely, wherever something or someone other than Christ (no matter how godly, holy, or spiritual) is inordinately esteemed as central and supreme in the life and assembly of God’s people, that the eccentric spiritual fruit of disunity, diminishment, distortion, and defilement will become increasingly embodied and expressed.
» Is C/E Spiritual Theory Scripturally sound? – This spiritual theory is based on the fundamental nature and precepts of God’s eternal purpose as revealed in Scripture. Especially pertinent portions of Scripture are Ephesians 1:3, 9-10, 3:10-11, Colossians 1:13-19, 2:9-10; and Hebrews 1:1-3, as well as innumerable other Scriptural references related to the four Christocentric spiritual fruit of unity, fullness, balance, and purity and the four eccentric spiritual fruit of disunity, diminishment, distortion, and defilement.
As examples of this, in the first and second posts of this collection, the four spiritual fruit of Christocentricity are shown how they are all represented in Ephesians 4:11-15. This is the Christocentric spiritual state that God is ultimately seeking to bring His Ekklesia into:
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to [1. unity] the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, [2. fullness] to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; [3. balance] that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, [4. purity] but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ–.”
The third through the sixth post of this collection is a four-part “Scriptural Case Study” focused on 1 Corinthians 1-3. This rather intensive study showed how this spiritual theory can be used in interpreting and understanding this significant portion of Scripture. In those posts, all four of the spiritual fruit of eccentricity: 1. disunity, 2. diminishment, 3. distortion, and 4. defilement are shown to be represented within those three chapters of 1 Corinthians and are addressed by the apostle Paul in order to transition the ekklesia in Corinth back from a spiritually eccentric state to a Christocentric state.
These examples help to show how sound and useful this theory is in relation to the Scriptures.
» How is C/E Spiritual Theory useful in explaining Church history? – This theory is especially helpful in discerning, understanding, and explaining Church history.
One way to apply this theory in this context is to look at a particular movement to discern at its “root” where the primary emphasis, identity, foundation, and authority lie. If in any or all of these areas Jesus Christ is not the unsurpassed, uncontested Answer, then surely spiritual eccentricity is at work. Once detected and discerned, one can then trace the subsequent developments of that particular eccentricity up the “trunk and branches” to the “fruit” of the tree. The evidence of the four-fold “fruit” of spiritual eccentricity out on the “branches” gives further confirmation of the reality of the “tree’s” spiritually eccentric “root” and of the long-term effects and dangers of it.
A second way to apply this theory is to reverse that order, beginning with the detection and discernment of any or all of the “fruit” of spiritual eccentricity, and then re-tracing their development back down the “branches and trunk” to the “root” to discern where the fundamental eccentricity or eccentricities lie. These will undoubtedly be found in relation to the spiritual matters of supreme emphasis, identity, foundation, and/or authority.
As an example of showing how this theory can be useful when applied to Church history, in the seventh post of this series we took a look at some very critical developments that took place early on in the first few centuries of the Church. With the help of the writing of a renowned theologian, we examined these developments looking through the “lens” of C/E Spiritual Theory to see how those changes indeed had at their root spiritual eccentricity.
[In upcoming posts, we will continue to examine further developments in Church history in this way to see how this spiritual theory helps to bring greater clarity and discernment when applied in one, or a combination, of the above two methods.]
» How is C/E Spiritual Theory useful for predicting future developments? I would contend that the principles of this spiritual theory are universal and unchanging and, therefore, are helpful predictors of future developments within the Ekklesia.
With any present movement or collective, the above two methods of applying this theory may be used to discern the “root” as well as the predicted future “fruit” of that particular “tree.”
This can be helpful especially for movements in their early stages when everything may seem to be positive and without cause for concern or correction. The end condition may be quite different, however. The sooner spiritual eccentricity can be detected and uprooted, the better!
» What is the most valuable use of this spiritual theory? – First let me state clearly what the intended use of this theory is most definitely not. It is not intended to foster a haughty, judgemental, Pharisaical, “holier-than-thou” attitude or spirit toward any other person, group, or movement. That is an abuse of it!
That being said, the proper and most valuable use of this theory, in my opinion, is three-fold: first, revelational, then, remedial, and, lastly, preventative. Three Scripture-based analogies may be helpful to further lay hold of these uses:
1. “The body”: “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.” (Isaiah 1:5b) This spiritual theory is best used to first properly diagnose the systemic malady of “spiritual eccentricity” that permeates the body of Christ making it sickly and weak. Once properly diagnosed, the universal remedy that God has eternally prescribed, “Christocentricity”, may be radically applied. Lastly, a continued state of Christocentric wholeness may be maintained so as to prevent a future returning of the “disease.”
2. “A tree”: “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33) This spiritual theory is most useful for first discerning the “root” of a “bad tree” in order to deal with its deficiencies at the source, thus making the whole “tree good.” This will ensure that it will perpetually bear the “good fruit” of spiritual unity, fullness, balance, and purity while very naturally and effortlessly preventing the “bad fruit” of spiritual disunity, diminishment, distortion, and defilement from growing.
3. “The remnant”: “The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. (Isaiah 37:31) This spiritual theory is an invaluable guide for those who, like the returning remnant of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, are ultimately captivated by a vision of God’s house being rebuilt in the place where God has chosen to place His Name and for the pure worship of Jehovah to be restored. It reveals the true Foundation (Christ) of the Lord’s temple so that all of the eccentric rubble may be cleared away and that God’s house may be built once more “according to Pattern” (Christ.) It further exposes the idolatrous root (spiritual eccentricity) that was the cause of the Babylonish captivity to begin with so that in the future, idolatry (spiritual eccentricity) may never again captivate the hearts of God’s people.
These three analogies, then, can help us to firmly grasp the proper and most valuable use of this spiritual theory.
» What is the best way to share this spiritual theory with another? – I cannot recount the number of times I have shared this theory with others by using a simple drawing sketched out on a piece of paper. As I have drawn each phase and explained what each represented, it has been amazing to see people’s eyes pop open and clarity of vision enter their heart and mind.
That simple drawing is what I introduced in the first post and then elaborated on in the second with an animated short and with step-by-step “stills” to accentuate brief explanations of each phase. What is depicted are the dynamics that are at work when a transition happens from a Christocentric spiritual state to an eccentric spiritual state.
In the development of the illustration, the initial phases, 1-4, depict “the fullness of God” existing in its purely Christocentric spiritual state along with its four corresponding fruit of unity, fullness, balance, and purity. The subsequent phases, 5-8, depict the transition to a spiritually eccentric state along with its four corresponding fruit of disunity, diminishment, distortion, and defilement.
I encourage you to make your way over to that second post for the full explanation and illustration of it, but for a teaser, here is the animated short to whet your appetite:
(Please click to play and then click the bottom right icon to enlarge if you wish):
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
I pray that this Q & A has been helpful to bring further clarification and understanding regarding this “spiritual theory!” For deeper explanation on all of these points, please follow the embedded links above to the corresponding posts for each question/answer.
To access the main page where all of these posts are linked and the associated media (audio/video/pics) are posted, please see the permanent tab on the header bar/dropdown menu: C/EST
We will pick up in the next post by beginning to look at the spiritual movement of Protestantism as seen through this spiritual lens! Please stay tuned!
ALL BLESSINGS IN CHRIST,