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Matthew Holst – Christocentric or Christomonic?

Posted On November 23, 2014

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.”

Consider for a moment the biblical teaching on “the love of the Father.” The best known passage in Scripture is often the subject of the most clear example of a Chrsitomonic abuse:“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The main subject of this passage is the Father. Everything else in the passage exegetes and qualifies the greatness of the Father’s love towards sinners. To preach this text with the exclusive emphasis laid on “whoever believes in Him (i.e. the Son) should not perish” (as vital a truth that is in the text) is to mispreach the text by missing the Father’s motivation of sending the Son into the world.

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