Christian Churches of God

No. 149




The Toronto Blessing, Hysteria and Demon Possession

(Edition 1.1 19951209-19990602))


There is a secret phenomenon that is sweeping the English-speaking world which has its origins in the city of Toronto, Canada. It derives its name from that fact, together with the assertion that it is some form of blessing as a spiritual manifestation. Hence, it is termed The Toronto Blessing. It is assumed that this phenomenon is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit and that those affected by this phenomenon are somehow in receipt of the Holy Spirit.



Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369,  WODEN  ACT 2606,  AUSTRALIA






(Copyright © 1995, 1998, 1999 Wade Cox)


This paper may be freely copied and distributed provided it is copied in total with no alterations or deletions. The publisher’s name and address and the copyright notice must be included.  No charge may be levied on recipients of distributed copies.  Brief quotations may be embodied in critical articles and reviews without breaching copyright.


This paper is available from the World Wide Web page: and


The Toronto Blessing, Hysteria and Demon Possession


There is a recent phenomenon that is sweeping the English speaking world, which has its origins in the city of Toronto, Canada. It derives its name from that fact together with the assertion that it is some form of blessing as a spiritual manifestation. Hence it is termed The Toronto Blessing. It is assumed that this phenomenon is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit and that those affected by this phenomenon are somehow in receipt of the Holy Spirit.


The purpose of this paper is to examine the premise upon which this is asserted and to test the spirits as we are commanded in order to isolate the nature of this manifestation and to provide direction to the elect in dealing with those who have experienced it or those who espouse it or promote it.


We are commanded to try or test the spirits to see if they be of God.

1John 4:1-6 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already. 4Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (RSV)

We know here that in John’s Church there was a serious problem developing over the Godhead and that the trial in John’s Churches resulted in this declaration of the Doctrine of Antichrist.


The sense of this text has been altered. The assertions by the Modalists, who later gave way to their descendants the Trinitarians, attempted to assert that Christ did not properly die and that some of him remained in the heavens as God. This was the heresy that faced John and to which he refers. This text was altered at a very early date by the Modalists and Trinitarians because it identified them with the doctrine of Antichrist. The correct ancient text can be identified from Irenaeus (Ch. 16:8, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, fn. p.443).

Hereby know ye the spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth Jesus Christ came in the flesh is of God; and every spirit which separates Jesus Christ is not of God but is of Antichrist.


Socrates the Historian says (VII, 32, p. 381) that the passage had been corrupted by those who wished to separate the humanity of Jesus Christ from his divinity.


Thus the spirits that attempt to assert that Christ was a being part of which did not die on the cross and was thus not totally dependent upon the Father for his resurrection and eternal life is of Antichrist. The people espousing this strange manifestation are invariably Trinitarian but often also progressing into New Age or Process Theology. The movement is not confined to denominations and includes adherents from Roman Catholicism to New Age Pentecostalism. It is termed or understood as a charismatic movement.


It is useful to examine the basis for the terms which relate to so-called Charismatic activity.

Charism (from the Greek charisma (pl. charismata)) is defined (Oxford Universal Dictionary) as a favour specially vouschafed by God; a grace or talent. Hence Charismatic ...

We must ask the question: Is this indeed a favour specially vouschafed by God?


SGD 5486 charisma is derived from the concept in SGD 5483 charizomai to grant as a favour in kindness, pardon or rescue. Hence it means to deliver, (frankly) forgive, to (freely) give, or grant.


These words are derived from the root SGD 5485 charis which is itself a product of SGD 5463 chairo to be calmly happy or well off. Charis means graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act ... especially of the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life; including gratitude: hence it is rendered in English as acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (gracious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank, (thanks worthy).


The specific meaning is of the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life which then is a gratuity which delivers from danger or passion.


Does the act of falling to the floor in a trance-like state, and writhing around, often muttering incoherently, fall into this category? What spirits manifest themselves this way and how does the Holy Spirit manifest itself?


There is one body and one Spirit and by one Spirit are we all baptised and of which we drink.

1Corinthians 12:13  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (KJV)


The flesh lusts after the Spirit and the Spirit opposes the flesh.

Galatians 5:17  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (KJV)


The flesh attempts to manifest a spirit, which appears as the Holy Spirit. This spirit is the spirit of this world, which is not that Spirit which we received. The Spirit we received is from God.

1Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (KJV)


Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. Those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. The things of the flesh are death, but the things of the Spirit are life and peace.

Romans 8:5-7  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (KJV)


The fruits of the Holy Spirit have been dealt with in detail (see the paper Fruit of the Holy Spirit (No. 146)). The fruits are truth (Jn. 15:26; 16:13), love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control (Gal. 5:22). The Spirit of the Father speaks in the elect.

Matthew 10:20  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (KJV)


By the Spirit of God unclean spirits, devils or demons are cast out.

Matthew 12:28  But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. (KJV)


The Father is worshipped in the Spirit.

John 4:23  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (KJV)


That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (KJV)


No one can receive anything but that which is given from heaven.

John 3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. (KJV)


The law also is Spirit or spiritual and the flesh is carnal, sold under sin. Paul said I do not understand my own actions. For I do not what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

Romans 7:14-15 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (KJV)


Paul could will what was right, but of the flesh he could not do it. Paul said that if he did what he did not want then it was no longer he that did it but sin which dwelt within him.

Romans 7:18-20  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (KJV)


This involuntary action is that of sin and the spirit of this world, which controls the individual in which it acts. The activities under the Toronto Blessings are the antithesis of self-control. Indeed the phenomenon is measured by ecstatic or hysterical behaviour outside the control of the individual. It is thus not the measured spiritual actions of the Holy Spirit. It is important to note that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Matthew 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (KJV)


The spirit of this world manifests itself under control of the demons. It is not evidenced by any of the above. In this case the so-called Toronto Blessing is not signified by self-control.


It is noted that the individual can be cleansed and then when the spirits are removed the activities of the individual can be such that they allow the spirits to re-inhabit the individual with other spirits and the condition is even worse than it was before the person was cleansed. So shall it be with this evil generation.

Matthew 12:43-45  When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. (KJV)


Luke 11:24-26  When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. (KJV)


Christ used that as the measuring stick of the evil generation. The inhabitation by demons becomes worse than ever. That is what is happening to this generation.


The unclean spirits are identified by their action on the individual. The evil spirits can be seen in the following forms.


 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, (KJV)


Luke 4:33  And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, (KJV)


They are also subject to the elect who can cast out demons.

Luke 9:1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. (KJV)


Luke 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. (KJV)


The elect or saints are those who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (KJV)


Revelation 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (KJV)


Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (KJV)


Thus those who are not the elect can be identified by their failure to keep these laws and testimony.

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (KJV)


The author has yet to meet anyone associated with this phenomenon who keeps all of the commandments.


When the demons are cast out they can convulse the individual, uttering loud cries.

Mark 1:26  And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. (KJV)


The spirits termed dumb spirits are described as casting down individuals to the ground who foam and grind their teeth and the individual becomes rigid.

Mark 9:18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. (KJV)


This is like epilepsy as we know it. It was noted as being difficult to cast out, coming out only by prayer.

Mark 9:29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. (KJV)


Unclean spirits also cause the individual to act as if with incredible strength.

Luke 8:29  (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) (KJV)


Those who do not act under the instruction of the Holy Spirit will eventually be destroyed or overpowered by the very force they seek to control. That was the lesson of the sons of Sceva so that the name of Christ could be extolled more efficiently among the Gentiles and also to show that the power of the system under the priesthood had been removed.

Acts 19:14-17 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. (KJV)


When free of demons the individual is in control and in his or her right mind.

Luke 8:35 Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. (KJV)


Thus the Toronto Blessing has a manifestation as an unclean spirit in its convulsive writhing on the ground.


The concept of a spirit of infirmity is identified in Luke 13:11.

Luke 13:11  And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. (KJV)


Christ healed here but the spirit was not identified as an unclean spirit. Thus there appears to be a distinction in the manifestation.


The Spirit also is the quickening. It gives life, the flesh is of no avail.

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (KJV)


It is a sin to tempt the Spirit and it will not go unpunished.

Acts 5:9  Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. (KJV)


The Spirit is also identified by its wisdom.

Acts 6:10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. (KJV)


The Spirit permits, prevents and makes its will known to the elect.

Acts 16:6-10 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. (KJV)


After the sons of Sceva, the High Priest, had been overpowered by the demon, the name of the Lord was extolled and the people were affected to the extent that a number of those involved in the mysteries and the magic arts burnt their books and repented. This was done so that the word of the Lord could grow and prevail mightily.

Acts 19:19-20 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. (KJV)


In the long run this phenomenon will be exposed and will take its place in the formation of the false religious system of the last days with the manifestation of the false prophets and the lying wonders we have been told to expect.


The Spirit searches the heart and intercedes for the elect according to the will of God.

Romans 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (KJV)


God foreknew the elect and predestined them to be conformed to the image of His son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom He predestined He also called and those whom He called He also justified; and those whom He justified He also glorified.

Romans 8:29-30  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (KJV)


Nowhere is it recorded that Christ writhed on the ground in an hysterical or ecstatic state. We are to be conformed to Messiah in the Holy Spirit which is the spirit of peace.


It is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants.

Romans 9:8 That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. (KJV)


The encouragement of children to be placed in an hysterical or ecstatic state and open to occupation by demons is an unconverted thought process. The same situation occurs with hypnosis. The Toronto Blessing works in a form of Mesmerism and thus produces the subjugation of the mind in similar effect as does Transcendental Meditation. The demons can thus enter any individual and perhaps children are even more susceptible than adults. This process is ruining the spiritual expectations of the young and is producing a form of religious experience which confuses worship of God which should be in Spirit and in truth with hysteria and uncontrolled behaviour which would be socially unacceptable in any other circumstance.


God is not mocked. This generation seeks, as Christ’s generation sought, a sign but no sign will be given it (Mk. 8:12) save that of the culmination of the Sign of Jonah (Lk. 11:29-30). The Sign of Jonah was in stages and only the first stage was explained (see the paper The Sign of Jonah and the History of the Reconstruction of the Temple (No. 013)). The Son of Man was three days and nights in the belly of the earth. Thus the resurrection was the first stage.


The second stage involved forty years to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the closure of the Temple in Leontopolis in Egypt in 71 AD by order of Vespasian. The third stage involves the subjugation of the nations at the fortieth Jubilee. That will culminate in the period of the Witnesses (Rev. 11:3-13). The resurrection of Jonah and Christ will be repeated for the Witnesses and this will be the sign they will see. But when it happens it will be too late for those who have become part of the beast system.


The Toronto Blessing purports to be a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit, yet it is a manifestation of the spirit of this world. There is no biblical sanction for the manifestations that accompany the phenomenon and indeed the signs are associated with the effects of demons.


If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through His Spirit which dwells in you.

Romans 8:11  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (KJV)


This life is not the manifestation of an uncontrolled hysteria but of power and of a sound mind. If your bodies are dead because of sin your spirits are alive because of righteousness.

Romans 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (KJV)


There is nothing righteous about teaching your children to grovel around on the floor in uncontrolled hysteria. Where is the responsibility placed on the parents to teach the commandments of God to the children?

Deuteronomy 6:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (KJV)


Deuteronomy 11:18-21 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. 19And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 20And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: 21That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth. (KJV)


God will require it of them and the nation shall be destroyed because of their failure.

Psalm 78:1-7  A Maskil of Asaph. Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought. 5He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children; 6that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; (RSV)

The Lord is not mocked. These children are taught hysteria for worship and the commandments of the living God, are said to be eliminated. So too will the Lord eliminate these people from His congregation and from among His people.


Christ said: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (KJV)


The behaviour manifested in this hysteria is never directed to worship of the Father in heaven. There are no good works manifested in this behaviour. God is not a God of confusion but a God of peace.

1Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (KJV)


Let all things be done decently and in order (1Cor. 14:40) (see also the paper The Tongues Question (No. 109)) so that the unbeliever may be converted by our behaviour and by our prophecy and know that God is really among us.

1Corinthians 14:24-25  But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. (KJV)