Gospel-centered or Christ-centered?

Much has been made in the Christian blogosphere in the past several years about the need for teaching/writing/preaching/life to be “gospel-centered.” This post reflects my thinking on whether this is a proper emphasis for Christians.

How could a focus on the gospel be an improper emphasis? Please don’t hear me say that I want churches and Christians to focus less attention on the gospel. We are commanded to preach the gospel and it is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Rom 1:16)

By definition, the gospel is a message, it is good news. What is the subject of this good news? Our message is about the Son of God, Jesus, who accomplished our salvation. The gospel itself points away from itself to Christ.

Consider this analogy. The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Church (and in Christians) is primarily to point to Christ. If a Christian wants his emphasis to line up with that of the Holy Spirit, he too will point often and emphatically to Jesus. It would be against the very nature of the Holy Spirit to step into the spotlight, because He shines light on Jesus.

The gospel is a message, but it is a message about Jesus. A constant emphasis on gospel-centeredness seems to slightly obscure the fact that the gospel is about Jesus! Should we not trumpet Christ-centeredness instead?

At some level this seems like splitting hairs, and as I said before, I am not against gospel-centeredness. However, the term “gospel-centered” seems to have gained secret-handshake status among some Christians, and I am concerned that our focus be turned as frequently as possible to Christ. He is, after all, at the center of the gospel.

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