There are three major ways people will usually approach any passage of Scripture. These are Theocentric, Anthropocentric, and Christocentric. Before your eyes glaze over, the terms are irrelevant however the concepts are worth pursuing. Put more simply, our central focus will be on God (Theocentric); on ourselves (Anthropocentric); or on Jesus and His cross (Christocentric).
Theocentric: Typically, this view asks the ‘God-centred’ question: “what does this passage say about God?” This is an important question. It brings us knowledge of who God is. It tells us things about God, like His unconditional love; relational nature; providence; hatred of sin etc. Although we might possibly respond in praise and thanks to our wonderful Creator-God, there remains a grave danger. We run the risk of settling for mere facts about God and remain oblivious to our complete lack of relationship with God.
Anthropocentric: The ‘self-centred’ nature of this viewpoint tends to ask: “how is this passage related to me?” Another significant question but, by itself, insufficient. Failure to move beyond this question will bog us down with concerns over our behaviour (legalism/ morality). “I must NOT… (insert negative traits here) and I must live like… (insert good biblical qualities), perhaps then will God love and accept me.” Ultimately this leads to pride or despair, depending how we rate our performance.
Christocentric (AKA Biblical Theology): This view recognises God’s Son, Jesus, as the pivotal point around which all Scripture revolves (like planets orbit the sun). The crucial, ‘Christ-centred’, question here: “what is this passage teaching about Jesus and the cross?” Sadly, this question is often overlooked, especially when studying the Old Testament, despite Jesus (and His sufferings) being the major theme of the Bible (Lk 24:44-47).
The beauty of the historical Jesus is: Man and God collide (quite literally). By combining Man and God, Jesus simultaneously provides unique insight to both previously mentioned views (Theocentric and Anthropocentric). As we examine Jesus we discover God (Jn 14:9). As God, Jesus unmistakably proved God’s irrepressible love for us at the cross (Rom 5:8). As a human, Jesus experienced life as we do (Is 53:3, Heb 4:15), only Jesus embodied the spotless and self-sacrificing nature God craves to see in us, acutely demonstrated at the cross (1 Pet 2:21-22, Heb 9:14). Hopefully this view will bring us into a deepening relationship with God and overcome the pitfalls of pride and despair.