“C/E Spiritual Theory” – A Scriptural Case Study (Part 1)

[Listen to post here.]

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In the prior two posts, the main features and functions of  “Christocentricity/Eccentricity Spiritual Theory” were introduced, explained, and illustrated.  Since all theories need to be tested, this “spiritual theory” needs to be tested as well, and that, first and foremost, with Scripture.

In this series of posts, I want to present a “scriptural case study” that employs this theory as a “lens” through which to look to examine more closely a specific portion of Scripture, 1 Corinthians chapters 1-3.  In doing so, I believe that the biblical clarity that will result will not only demonstrate 1) the legitimacy of this “theory” but also 2) its inherent explanatory and predictive usefulness and value.

In this series, I will be aiming to balance simplicity with sufficiency concerning each aspect.  To clearly make the connections between the verses being considered and the spiritual theory, my intention is to interweave Scriptural explanation with the various principles and phraseology unique to this theory without belaboring or exhausting each point.  (Graphics taken from the animated short of the previous post are also interspersed at appropriate points for additional clarity.)

Before proceeding, then, it is important that every reader have a basic familiarity with this spiritual theory in order to grasp the application of it here in these posts.  Therefore, if you have not read the previous post, “Christocentricity/Eccentricity Spiritual Theory” – Explained and Illustrated (with animated short), I strongly urge you to do so before proceeding with this one.

Additionally for this series, we will be regularly referencing the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians.  A fresh familiarity with those chapters and/or having them accessible alongside of these posts, would also be highly advisable. 🙂

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1 Corinthians 1-3 – A Case Study

We will now take a closer look at 1 Corinthians 1-3 and the primary spiritual problem that they address, as seen through the lens of “Christocentricity/Eccentricity Spiritual Theory” (…for simplicity’s sake, hereafter referred to simply as “C/E Spiritual Theory”.)

Apostolic Christocentricity

When the apostle Paul initially went to Corinth, he was resolutely focused and relentlessly purposed in his ministry and mission.  He declared to the Corinthian believers, “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)  He further stated, “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11) 

Paul initially labored in Corinth for a year and a half and during that time he passionately preached nothing but that which was centered around and consummated in “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”  He relentlessly laid the foundation of the ekklesia there as none other than “Jesus Christ” Himself.  Paul, as an expert master-builder, was radically Christ-centered and sought to establish the ekklesia in Corinth as a radically Christ-centered, corporate expression of the Messiah according to the eternal wisdom, passion, and purpose of God.

Some time later after leaving Corinth and prior to his writing of the epistle of 1 Corinthians, Paul had gotten word that a different condition had arisen which did not correspond with the apostolic Christocentricity (and its resultant fruit) that He had labored for a year and a half to establish.  The first three chapters of his epistle to them, therefore, addressed this situation, and every aspect of his authoritative reproof and correction was an expression of apostolic re-centering around, in, on, and under Christ!

Spiritual Eccentricity

The troubling condition that had developed in Corinth was that various sects had begun forming around those servants of the Lord who had had a significant impact on the believers there, namely Paul, Apollos, and Cephas (Peter.)  (There were also those who identified as being “…of Christ.”  Whether they were sectarian in spirit in their confession or simply holding fast to their true identity in Him, we do not actually know.)  In the other groups, however, instead of Christ alone having “the preeminence in all things.” (Colossians 1:18), and thus holding the place of unrivaled centrality, these other servants of the Lord had been lifted up as “spiritually eccentric” gathering points, unifying identities, and false foundations of these quarreling schisms.  As a result of these apostatizing shifts, the four-fold fruit of “spiritual eccentricity” had begun to creep in: disunity, diminishment, distortion, and defilement. 

In these initial chapters of this epistle, then, the apostle Paul exposed and addressed these spiritual eccentricities and deficiencies in order to restore apostolic Christocentricity and its resultant fruit of unity, fullness, balance, and purity. 

In the remainder of this and the subsequent posts of this “case study”, we will consider more closely Paul’s root-level, Christocentric approach to rectifying this condition, and do so while looking through the lens of “C/E Spiritual Theory.”

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Christocentric Introduction

In the first nine verses of 1 Corinthians, Paul the apostle wades into his address to the Corinthian believers with a classic Pauline introduction.  Most interesting to note in this is how his radical apostolic Christocentricity is brought to the fore as he repeatedly highlighted the root and remedy of all that will need to be addressed in this epistle.  In these first nine verses, he mentioned the Lord Jesus Christ, in various ways and contexts, eleven times!  (That averages more than once per verse, and not a single verse goes without mentioning Him in some way!)  That is not without apostolic intentionality, priority, passion, and purpose!  Paul was a wise master-builder!

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He then moved to address the first specific issue that he dealt with in this epistle: sectarian division (i.e. disunity) within the ekklesia of Corinth.

Paul’s initial impetus in addressing this matter was to bring an exhortation as to God’s positive desire for unity in Christ: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”  (1 Corinthians 1:10) 

In contrast to God’s desire for unity, Paul then proceeds to identify the disunity that had arisen among them:  “For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.  Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.'”  (1 Corinthians 1:11-12) 

With this situation identified, we can now see the existence of at least one aspect of the fruit of “spiritual eccentricity” being manifested, disunity.  We also see the apparent root of “spiritual eccentricity” among these various groupings of believers in the inordinate exalting of three servants of Christ above Jesus Christ Himself so as to make these men central to the forming of special allegiances and alliances within the one ekklesia of Corinth.

These divisions having been identified, Paul then proceeded to hold up a plumb line, as it were, by pointing them directly to the crux of the whole matter: “Is Christ divided?”  (1 Corinthians 1:13a)  The inescapable conclusion and implication of this rhetorical bombshell is clearly, “NO!”  These three words alone ought to have settled and concluded the whole matter…but Paul was just getting started!

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Before moving on to the next aspect of Paul’s discourse, it is important to note that in the development of “spiritual eccentricity”, the eccentric fruit of diminishment begins with the centerpoint whenever a lesser “vector point” within the circle becomes overly-esteemed and accepted as a new centerpoint.  Subsequent further diminishment occurs as the circle shifts over to its new orientation and certain aspects of spiritual fullness that exist within the original circle cease to be contained within the circumference of the new circle.  In the ekklesia, then, when the focus and emphasis moves off of God’s ordained Center, Jesus Christ, (in Whom “all the fullness of Deity dwells” – Colossians 2:9), to some lesser point, diminishment invariably ensues, center to circumference!

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Continuing on with Paul’s masterful treatise, then, he next sought to expose the diminished nature of their new (“eccentric”) centers, beginning especially with those who were professing “I am of Paul.”  He continued to press them rhetorically: “Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:13)  His intention was to point out the folly and fallacy of their hyper-inflation of himself (a grossly lesser center compared to Christ) as that which they were deeming worthy of being the unique “attractional center” of their fellowship and adopting as their “unifying identity.”

Although Paul’s rhetorical questioning was directed specifically toward himself, the implications of his queries undoubtedly would also apply to Apollos and Cephas as well.  Thus with a few short scintillating questions, Paul laid some solid blows to the root of the tree of “spiritual eccentricity!”  And still he was not done!

Having dealt directly with those who were professing, “I am of Paul“, he then proceeded to address the diminished (“eccentric”) centers more specifically of those who were professing, “I am of Apollos” , and “I am of Cephas.”  Instead of continuing along the same line of rhetorical questioning, however, he choose another route, a more radical one, for the eccentricities of these groups appear to lie yet deeper still!

We will pick up with this new approach in the next post.  Please stay tuned, for this is where Paul’s apostolic brilliance begins to shine even more brightly…if that’s even possible! 😉

Next: “C/E Spiritual Theory” – A Scriptural Case Study (Part 2)

“Christocentricity/Eccentricity Spiritual Theory” main page: C/EST

The Stronghold of Spiritual Eccentricity (#propheticresistance)
“Christocentricity/Eccentricity Spiritual Theory” – Explained and Illustrated (with animated short)
Centrality and Eccentricity


About David Bolton

Following Him who is the Way; learning of Him who is the Truth; living by Him who is the Life. - John 14:6
This entry was posted in Audio Posts, Christ-Centered Gatherings, Christ-Centered Unity, Spiritual Eccentricity, The Ekklesia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to “C/E Spiritual Theory” – A Scriptural Case Study (Part 1)

  1. Lloyd says:

    Great stuff, David! Paul was an extraordinary follower of Christ!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. errollmulder says:

    1 Cor. 1-3 beautifully illustrates the shortcomings and eccentricities. and pointing us to Christ at the centre of all. Otherwise the true Gospel will always be distorted and exploited by the enemy. Thanks, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Allan Halton says:

    Thanks, David, your “case study” is helping me get a better grasp of your diagram! Amen. Now on to Part 2.

    Liked by 1 person

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