Distortions of a Christ-Centered Focus
Yesterday I asked if it’s possible to be too Christ-centered. I’m not sure I left anyone in suspense. Of course, it’s impossible to be too Christ-centered, as long as we’re clear on what being Christ-centered means. Scripture is clear that Jesus’ life and work stands at the climax of history and is at the heart of understanding what God is doing in the world.
I would argue, though, that we need to guard against some ways that we can get off track in a Christ-centered focus. Three come to mind:
1. Slipping into Christomonism
We cannot be so focused on the work of Christ that we lose sight of the Trinity. Sidney Greidanus warns us:
In contrast to Christomonistic tendencies, the first New Testament principle to remember is that Christ is not to be separated from God but was sent by God, accomplished the work of God, and sought the glory of God. (Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, p.179)
I worry about this issue sometimes. Some people even pit being God-centered (theocentric) vs. being Christ-centered (Christocentric). If you understand God to be the Trinity, then being God-centered includes being Christ-centered. We need a Trinitarian theology.
2. Getting too clever
Some are so eager to preach Christ from all of Scripture that they get overly creative. Every sermon becomes either allegorical, or else it becomes a lecture on biblical theology. After a while, every sermon sounds the same. John Frame writes of this danger:
These folks have developed rather fanciful ways of “finding Christ” in OT texts, and they oppose any attempt to “apply” Scripture or to use biblical characters as moral examples. Their sermons are often jargon-laden. Worse, they accuse anyone who disagrees with them of “moralism,” “legalism,” etc. Yours is not the first church that has suffered division over this issue, and I consider it shameful people have made a test of orthodoxy over such a half-baked theory.
He also has a paper on this topic that is worth considering (PDF).
3. Becoming too faddish
I sometimes wonder if being Christ-centered is just a fad. I hope not. There’s much too much there to adopt it in passing. But this is a concern. Are we focusing on being Christ-centered just because all the cool kids are on the podcasts? May it never be so.