I’ve served up a lot of Michael Spencer’s stuff here and I don’t mind hitting you with another one. He is very much on target with the things that ail evangelicalism these days, and you would all do very well to read what he has to say. I insist on it.
The post that I wish to direct your attention to today is entitled “On Being Too God-Centered”.
One of the biggest problems in evangelicalism these days is its relentless obsession with being God-centered, largely due to the influence of John Calvin and his theological heirs.
But wait a minute, you say. We’re supposed to be God-centered. Everything we do in life is supposed to be done for the purpose of God’s glory, right? Surely being God-centered is not a bad thing, is it?
It is when the idea of being God-centered becomes a club by which we beat down all sorts of good things simply because they aren’t God. When the idea of being God-centered becomes an excuse to disown and delegitimize the vast majority of all human experience simply because it isn’t God.
Have you ever heard this argument before: “Lots of things in this world are good, but only those which point directly toward God are the best. Everything else is less than the best. It is sin to settle for anything less than the best.”? If you’ve been around evangelical Protestant-dom for any length of time, I’m sure you have heard this, or something similar.
A couple of years back I heard a well-known and respected evangelical leader speak at a conference at my church. In the way of an illustration, he mentioned an incident where he and his wife took their grandmother out to see a play. Midway through the play, they turned to the grandmother and asked her how she was enjoying the play. Now this grandmother was passionately devoted to Jesus, and she said that she was not enjoying the play because that was not where she wanted to be when Jesus returned.
And then I thought of my own grandmother. She was a devout Catholic, and within that context was very devoted to Jesus. She would never have gone to a play, symphony concert, or other such event, and midway through said that she was not enjoying it because that was not where she wanted to be when Jesus returned.
What is wrong with us as evangelicals? Why is it that we feel this incessant urge to damn and denounce so much in this world and in our human experience which is good, simply because it isn’t all about God, God, and more God?
Jesus was fully able to reconcile both full-on humanity and full-on divinity within the space of his person. But within the culture of evangelicalism that exists today, somehow I think he would be extremely out of place.