Christocentric or Christomonic?

We should be careful in preaching Christ from the Scriptures to the exclusion of the Father and the Spirit

My great fear in all this is that in the current trend of preaching, which seeks to be faithfully Christocentric, many will end up becoming Christomonic, the Father’s great and everlasting love to sinners will be diminished and the Spirit’s ongoing work in us will be lost.  Twice in the last five years of ministry I’ve been confronted with this attitude: “I don’t want to be told what to do, I want to be told what Jesus has done for me.” That’s Christomonism, not Christocentrism.

 

Many of us have joyfully welcomed the renaissance of Christ-centered preaching that churches in North America have undergone in recent decades. For some it has been an old practice to saturate their ministry with the person and work of the Savior. For others it is a relatively new thing to earnestly seek to proclaim their Savior in a more pervasive way in their preaching. Praise God! If Christ is being proclaimed, the church has done well.

Yet there is a fine line between being Christocentric (i.e. preaching the Scriptures in a Christ-centered way) and being Christomonic (i.e. preaching Christ from the Scriptures to the exclusion of the Father and the Spirit). Christomonism is the act of ONLY focusing on the saving work of Christ in our reading and preaching of the Scriptures, as if every passage in the Bible leads us ONLY to the foot of the cross. Now, to be sure, all Scripture does lead to the person and work of Christ, but it does not ONLY lead us to Him. Our Lord Himself repeatedly pointed us to two other objects in the Scripture, namely, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Throughout the Gospel accounts, He repeatedly stated that He had come to do the will of his Father. Additionally, at his ascension, Christ promised to send another Comforter–the Holy Spirit–to be the divine agent who would accompany and work in his church.  We must follow the lead of our Lord in preaching both the work and character of the Father and the Spirit.

It is far easier for some of us to slip into a Christomonism than we might think at first. When the law is preached in our churches (as it must be preached), and the exclusive application is “you can’t keep it, but Jesus has,” you are probably sitting under a Christomonic ministry. If you almost exclusively hear that, as a Christian, your works are not acceptable to God and do not please him, you are most likely sitting under a Christomonic ministry.

If you hear little to nothing of the love of the Father in saving sinners, you are probably under a Christomonic ministry. If you rarely hear application in preaching, you are probably sitting under a Christomonic ministry. It is very easy to fall into Christomonism. At this point, you might object, “What is wrong with those messages?” The simple answer is that they are not faithfully accounting for the whole counsel of God; or, to put it another way, they do not sum up the totality of the message of “Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

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