What the Man-Centered Theology?

August 2, 2008

Okay, I’m not usually a reactionary writer (actually, that may not be true) but I just experienced something that has me rife with frustration. Let me explain.

I’m in downtown Indianapolis for a romantic anniversary getaway (we’re literally 15 minutes from our house, but it’s the mindset of being away from real life that counts!) at this ritzy 4-star hotel that I scored on priceline.com. And after a delicious dinner and some hangtime in the hotel room, Ash and I decided to head to the pool/jacuzzi for a swim before bed.

The frigid pool quickly made the jacuzzi look like a more desirable locale, so we hopped into the bubbling waters and relaxed. Then four women hopped in with us.

I guess I also need to tell you that this weekend the Women of Faith organization is holding a massive convention next door to the hotel, hence there have been a plethora of plaid capri shorts, Vera Bradley handbags, and short ‘bob’ hairdos meandering about the hotel grounds and surrounding area.

Back to the story- these four women that hopped into the hot tub with us looked the part of four women in town for the WOF conference, and my unbridled tendency to start conversations out of thin air prevailed over my wife’s introverted nature. So I tossed one out there… “You ladies in town for Women of Faith?”

Just as I suspected, they were, so I continued my barrage of inquiry as to who was speaking, what topics were being discussed, where they were from, what church they went to, etc. I’m really quite the conversationalist!

The question of “Was it a good session tonight” was followed by a unanimous “Oh, yeah… it was amazing!” I was initially pumped to hear such a resounding affirmation for what was going on across the street. I followed it up with, “What did they talk about?” And that’s when I felt my heart drop.

It was all about someone’s testimony, or how someone overcame something, or the history of the organization. All good things in and of themselves… but the fact that it was all about ‘them’ and not about ‘God’ got me pretty concerned.

I guess it’s just a symptom of a much larger problem- man-centered theology is taking over the church, replacing the glory and renown of God with how “loved” we are, how “special” we are, how “amazing” we are. And those sentiments are becoming more emphasized than Jesus, the Cross, sin, repentance, and the like.

I would have been so encouraged if just one of those women would have said something about Jesus’ saving work, or the glory of the Cross, but instead it was all about the speakers and their lives. One of the women even commented that she brought two boxes of Kleenex because she knew she’d be crying all weekend. But not because she’s so offended at the fact that her sin put Christ on the Cross, but rather that she was pumped to be at a sobfest.

When John the Baptist was making his rounds, preaching to the people, he was preaching REPENT for the Kingdom of God is NEAR! Not some experiential, emotion-driven sob-story.

Paul talked time and time again in his New Testament letters about how Jesus on the Cross and His Resurrection is the centerpiece of Christianity. Why isn’t that taught anymore?

J.I. Packer, in a recent conversation in Orlando, Florida with Mark Driscoll, made the point that God-Centered theology would be one of the most important issues for young theologians to study. To quote from Driscoll’s blog entry (found here: http://theresurgence.com/node/1091 ),

“He said that theology today is rife with man-centered thinking so that the glory of God in all things is not the essence of what is taught to be faithfully Christian. The result, he explained, is that even Christians often live their lives for the supreme purpose of their perceived happiness, feelings, and satisfaction. Yet, biblical Christianity differs from the other religions of the world in that the desires and purposes of God override ours; we are not the number one priority, but rather God is.”

And what’s cool is that Ashley agreed with my take on things… she rules!


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