November 16, 1988    (Date of original letter) Copyright © 1988 by Tim Arensmeier

Dear "Emma,"

I know.  The names have been changed to protect the "guilty."  Not meaning you, but the "Torontoiters."

        My dear sister in Christ. . . where to begin?

        For starters, I'm trusting God that by this time you and your husband have found a group of the redeemed with whom you may fellowship.

        One of the most stark concepts which I read in your account, over and over again, was essentially this: The Torontoites were extolling the virtues of, singing the praises of and uplifting the "Third Person" of the Godhead.

        There are two words which are helpful to me and my wife:

                1) Christocentric, or Christocentricity, et al., meaning nothing more nor less than the centrality of Christ, His Life, Being and Work.  Or, the Gospel message Itself.  The Story of Jesus of Nazareth.  Anything which focuses our attention upon Him.

                And, 2) Hagiocentric, or hagiocentricity, et al.  Great word!  Right?  Not quite so easily comprehended, but a wonderfully rich word nonetheless.  Hagios is a combining form to the same concept of "centrality."  Or, the emphasis is upon Spirit - as in The Spirit, i.e., the Holy Spirit, or "spirit" with a lower case "s" as in your spirit or my spirit - as in "saint" or the saints, or as in the spirits of the elders, etc.  It includes such concepts as "spiritual issues" and "spiritual gifts" and "spiritual ones" (or, again 'saints').

        Why the pedantic?  Our Savior promised that He would send His Spirit.  Good news!  Not "The Good News," but good news!  Had Jesus not done that, we'd have been in quite a predicament.  As long as He was here, on this earth, He could only be in one place at one time.  Therefore, were He to have been in modern day Israel, you and I, in Wherever and America, could not have enjoyed His Presence.  Fair?

        However, as He did promise His Spirit (the Third Person of the Triune Godhead) to come and be with us forever, we're all the beneficiaries of His (Jesus Christ's) leaving!  Do you get it?  Had Christ not left, we'd still be left to visit Him at one place and at one time.

        Now, He (Jesus) promised that when the Spirit of Truth (His Spirit) came, He (Christ's Spirit) would not speak of Himself (The Third Person...), but would uplift, magnify and point people to Jesus Christ!

        Our Savior, in John's Gospel, made this rather fascinating statement, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me."  Fascinating!  He didn't suggest that we talk about our church, our denomination or even the religion of "Christianity!"  He said that we were to uplift, and/or talk about and attempt to point people to -- Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Godhead!

        In St. Paul's letter to the Church in Corinth, he said some very fascinating things in the 12th, 13th and 14th sections (or chapters!).  For instance, towards the beginning of that trilogy of truth, he said, "No man speaking by the Spirt says, ‘Jesus be cursed!"  And, no man may say, ‘Jesus is Lord,' but by the Spirit."

        Emma my dear, several years ago I was reflecting on that and wondered. . .  I'd heard preachers absurdly say, "If a person can say the words, ‘Jesus is Lord,' they're saved!"  I figured that was ridiculous!  I can give the price of a pint to any drunk and he'll say the three words, "Jesus is Lord."  Obviously, that doesn't make him saved!

        By contrast, I reflected on this thought:  I've been in a variety of dubious locales in my life:  logging camps in Oregon; enlisted men's clubs around the world; officer's clubs around the world; businessmen's luncheons and various other questionable places (including drunken fraternity parties and equally questionable sorority parties!), and in all of the profanities and vulgarities I've heard, never once have I heard the deletable expletive: "Jesus be cursed!"

        I'm not an intellectual, nor the son of one, but I do appreciate how a well tuned mind works!  I couldn't help but wonder, "What on earth does that mean?"  (I Corinthians 12:3)

        I did a bit of study on it and discovered the following:   remember the hand illustration used by kids when they'd point to their head with their index finger and circle it around their ear, and point to someone else?  That's a "curse!"  It means, "I'm so much smarter than you (the person to whom they pointed!), that I can ‘think circles around you!'

        Said another way, "I'm so much brighter than you, that you are obviously secondary to me!"  Humm.  What am I saying?  In the context of I Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul was saying that if anyone denigrates Christ, or makes Him in any way, shape or form less than all that He is as our Savior and Lord, that person is "cursing" Christ!

        How many times have I heard someone say (in contexts like you've described), "It's nice that you have Jesus. . . what you really need now is . . . ‘ The Holy Spirit!'" Or, The Blessing!  HAGIOCENTRICITY!  Right?!  But even worse in this context.  It's nothing short of sheer blasphemy!!  It is elevating the Holy Spirit above Jesus Christ, in whom we are complete!

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Diety lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.  In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with the circumcision done by the hands of men but with the cirumcision done by Christ having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead."  -- Colossians 2:9 - 12
        Another passage which must be included in this thinking is from St. John's 1st letter, in the 4th section (chapter), in which he says an interesting thing:   This is how we know/test the spirits:  Any ‘spirit' which confesseth (King James Version), acknowledges, that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God; and, any spirit which confesseth not (alpha negative - or the obverse of the initial thought) that Jesus Christ, God the Father's Son has come ‘in the flesh,' is not of God (The Father!).

        Why am I belaboring all of this?  The entire emphasis of the "Toronto Blessing" is ‘Hagiocentric!," and not Christocentric!  Does that register?  I trust that it does.

        As I stroll the malls of America, visit the stores of Europe, and amble through the markets of Asia, I frequently find myself in "Christian Bookstores."  I chose to call them "religious book stores," and observe that most of the volumes carried are . . . hagiocentric. . . not Christocentric!

        And, you, my dear sister in Christ, are the "victim" of the 'Hagiocentric' emphasis of the enthusiastic 'Torontoites' whom I observe are all more concerned with the 'third Person of the Godhead,' not the 2nd Person -- Jesus Christ.

        I trust and pray that these "not-necessarily-all-that-well-organized" thoughts have been of some assistance to you.  It was with the desire that you be encouraged in your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, that these 'thoughts' were submitted.

        One last final contribution:  several years ago when my wife (Jan) and I were missionaries in Germany, we were visited by some of the "Charismatic" leaders in Europe.  Knowing what they were interested in, namely the ‘Hagiocentric,' I watched them like a hawk!

        After several days, Jean said to me, "Tim, I'm concerned about your ministry."

        I responded, "Really?  Why?"

        She said, "I don't hear anything about the work of the 'Holy Spirt.'"

        I said, "Oh. Really?  What do you hear about?"

        She responded, "I hear a lot about Jesus Christ."

        I said, "Thank you."

        Emma, you and "Sebastian" are doing the work of Christ!  You're more concerned about Him and His deity and ministry than you are about the 'Holy Spirit' and the ‘manifestations' that surround ‘His' ministry.

                Keep on 'keeping on!"

                        a brother, "In Christ,"

                                tim arensmeier


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