Christocentrism as organizing principle

During my research for establishing the criteria for a truly Pentecostal approach to theology, I ran into one important element that I had so far neglected in my own developing model: early Pentecostalism organized its theological thinking around the fourfold (fivefold in some cases) perspective on Jesus Christ as savior, healer, baptizer, and coming king (Holiness-Pentecostals would add "sanctifier" as fifth element). This central framework constitutes the fundamental Pentecostal approach to the question of valid loci in systematic theology — which should be retained, I think, in a new approach that takes into account our Pentecostal tradition. So Christocentrism becomes the organizing principle of Pentecostal dogmatics.

Yet, as Frank D. Macchia has remarked in his excellent article on Pentecostal theology (New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, s.v. "Theology, Pentecostal"), this framework is not without its problems. With the focus on Christ comes the danger of "Christomonism", an over-emphasis on one slice of the whole while neglecting other important Biblical teachings (Macchia cites e.g. "the fatherhood of God, election, creation, Trinity, Scripture and church). Myself, I would claim that this potential problem is but a question of organization and association. While it is true that a Christocentric framework could become a problem if our perspective on Christ is reduced to only four different perspectives, it is equally true that even the other doctrines (like the ones Macchia suggests) can and should be seen in their relation to Jesus Christ, who is, after all, according to Hebrews, the final and supreme self-revelation of God. Thus, bibliology belongs to Christ, "the Word", and even the area of theology proper, with its questions about God, the Father, has to be seen in the light of Jesus‘ saying that "whoever sees me sees the Father."

Eine Antwort zu “Christocentrism as organizing principle”

  1. interesting stuff. it strikes me that the four (or five) fold perspective on Jesus is much more holistic than many of our usual understandings. by the way, what does Jesus as baptizer mean? just curious.

    also interesting that a ‚pneumatic‘ movement might be Christocentric, as much of our theology is drawn from Acts and Paul. i know that is not the entire picture, but it often seems the case. perhaps a renewed focus on Christ again gives us an opportunity to see the work of the Spirit in a broader context, something which I at least think is needed.

    by the way, one of the ‚distinctives‘ of the emerging church conversation is a renewed focus on Christocentric thought – which might be a backlash against a heavily Pauline Christianity, i’m not sure. just a possibly interesting point of intersection.

Über Christoph

Christoph Fischer (* 1978) ist Pfarrer der Evangelischen Landeskirche in Württemberg auf der Pfarrstelle „Erlöserkirche“ in Albstadt-Tailfingen.

Christoph ist verheiratet mit Rebecca. Gemeinsam haben sie drei Töchter.