Christ the Center: Freedom of Thought


All the hoopla around the country is about free speech which only elicits pondering Milne, then reflecting on Kierkegaard’s more apt reflection:

People demand  freedom of speech as a compensation for the  freedom of thought which they seldom use.

I could give you a thorough analysis as to why this is…but forget it. Enough talk about what is wrong. If people are investing in commercialized models of the “Gospel” – either a “Gospel of Betterment” (megachurches) or then the more private tastes of a personalized “Boutique Gospel” (which is sort of a mildly skeptical “pick and choose” ala carte that might include some Borg, Ehrman, Crossan…bits of Gnostisism (known or unknown ironically), some Eastern Mystism and pop psychology, and lots of hip social action/posturing) it is only because its really pretty much the only thing available.

No “thinking” version – which is truly Christocentric, socially conscious and billed as a “death” to what novelist Walker Percy aptly described as “The suck of self” in favor of complete “Transformation” (meatnoia) into the image of Christ has ever been put forward in my lifetime.

It just wouldn’t sell.

So I have watched a seeming endless cycle of “new theologies” with their anthropocentric “centers” come and go.

It is time for new direction and vision.

But at once we seem to have a problem – and this is where the ballgame is always lost – the “exception to the rule.” The second we make a declarative statement it is assailed by either an exception or by some parallel consideration that is, in fact, valid.

The error is not in eliminating the exception or parallel considerations (in fact, in due time let them ALL in). The error is in assuming a “one size fits all” approach to begin with when it comes to “Gospel.”

What do I mean by this term? I will simply say “Good News” and keep as close to that as possible. The more we veer away from it being “Good News” the less interested I am. If it is “Bad News?” Reject it outright.

If you wish to preach Bad News by all means do so: to yourself. For others? I take Peter to be spot on when he said we are to be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us about our “hope, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

Anthropocentric centers have not worked and won’t work for Gospel. You all know the definition of insanity – so “sane up” and let’s get to work.

As Christ is the “Center” (and you can see my “math” elsewhere) I will just go directly to His pretty much never seeming to ever do anything the same way twice. There seems to be no discernible pattern for the healings (“here’s mud in your eye” in one; in another He heal’s long range with just words; in yet another He casts a load of demons out of a man into a herd of swine. Now that is variety.) Jesus seems directed by His Father, but at times “out of the loop.” Taken as a whole it is not the sort of thing any truly thinking person could build a “systematic theology” around – which is probably why it really wasn’t much attempted until the 18th Century and has been botched badly and routinely.

It doesn’t work. Why? Well I’ll give you at least one good reason: God is not systemic.

And one big result is that no new theology has really been done since C.S. Lewis kicked the bucket in 1963. I mean I like some folk for reiteration…but not a lot of original new thought or fresh exegesis because most folk have allowed themselves to be drafted into a protracted culture war (“War of the Fictions”).

I feel true compassion. The Reality of Christ as True Center is not something we easily adjust our eyes to for any length of time. I think that is why – while it is called for all over the New Testament – it is done so in a gentle manner. 

In the three places where Christ’s glory are held up most intensely (John 1; Colossians 1; and Hebrews 1 by my reckoning) it is in a near blinding swift flash…then all quiets down. Paul, when he is practically applying his cosmological view of Christ makes warm realistic statements like “we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him ” (2 Co. 5:9)

Now that is not so complicated is it?

We also appropriate a lot of things best in song and via worship it would seem. Thimas Merton would add contemplation/prayer and he would be right. 

Einstein said “things should be made as simple as possible but not simpler.” The Universe was created in, through and for Christ (Col.1) but my simple joy today is to simply be “pleasing to Him.”

Our theology and new work is grounded in Christ the Center Who is alive – right now – and animated by the Holy Spirit. We are not limited to categories of left and right anymore than the places around the rim of a tire are at odds as they are held in tension to the Center-Hub. Our problem has been that we have tried to keep started from those rimmed areas.

Well, don’t. Anthropocentric centers have not worked and won’t work for Gospel. You all know the definition of insanity – so “sane up” and let’s get to work.


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