Beeke on the peril of being man-centered.

I’ve been enjoying, Joel Beeke’s Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism. In it, he argues that Theocentrism (God-centeredness) is the controlling principle of reformed theology.  This probably surprises some who may believe that it has more to with role of election in salvation, but I would completely agree with his thesis.  He describes how this controlling principle guides every aspect of our theology. He writes,

“To be reformed is to stress the comprehensive, sovereign, fatherly lordship of God over everything: every area of creation, every creature’s endeavors, and every aspect of the believer’s life.  the ruling motif in Calvinism is, “In the beginning God…(Gen. 1:1)”

Every doctrine and practice of the church must be viewed through this God-centered lens.  Beeke describes it in this way,

“Sin is horrible because it is an affront to God.  Salvation is wonderful because it brings glory to God.  Heaven is glorious because it is the place where God is all in all.  Hell is infernal because it is where God manifests his righteous wrath.  God is central to all of these truths.”

Virtually all of our errors in doctrine and practice stem from losing this God-centered focus.  It is precisely here that I think Beeke’s observations are both accurate and alarming.  He writes,

“Evangelicalism has become man-centered and, as a result, promotes a view of God that is far less than the reality set forth in Holy Scripture.

But even those who delight in reformed truth seem to have lost their sense of the awe of God.  As in broader evangelical culture, God-centeredness has given way to man-centeredness in Reformed circles.  We aim too often at giving people what they want instead of following the example of the great Reformed evangelists, whose first objective was to confront men and women with God’s greatness and majesty.

Too many of us today present God as more user-friendly than His own Word does. We want to make people feel comfortable, so we avoid telling them anything that will make them uneasy.  We are so concerned about losing our young people that we never ask them to gaze on the holiness of God or challenge them to live out that holiness in the childlike fear of God. We condone materialism, worldliness and triviality because we have so little sense of an ever-present, infinitely holy God.”

I would have to say that Beeke is spot-on in his assessment of current evangelical culture. Thankfully, there are encouraging signs on the horizon as many seem to be weary of the shallowness of modern church culture and are seeking something far deeper and substantive than the pablum that has fed the church for far too long.  Let’s regain a sense of the greatness and glory of God in all things and become satisfied with nothing less than proclaiming his supremacy in all things and over all things.

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