Allow me to make a huge generalization.
There are two basic theological philosophies that exist in the contemporary church. There is a Christ-centered philosophy and there is a self-centered philosophy.
The word philosophy simply means the way you think about something. So, to say it differently, there are two ways to think about contemporary Christianity. That it is all about me, or that it is all about Jesus.
Now I know that there is a broad spectrum of churches and pastors, but generally speaking, Christians tend to align themselves with churches and teachers around one of these two extremes.
It’s no secret that I am gravely concerned by the trend toward self-centeredness among contemporary evangelical churches. I think if there is a word that I am more concerned about than any other in the church today it is the word Self.
As society and culture become more self-centered the church is marching right along to the same drum beat. Consciously or not, intentionally or not we are teaching a theology that is obsessed with self.
We are told to be SELF Aware;
We are concerned about being SELF Conscious;
Almost every ministry in the church (Men’s, Women’s, and even Kid’s) will at some point focus on SELF Image;
When it comes to how I spend my time and money we find we are SELF Centered;
We are told to practice SELF Love;
At the end of the day we want to be SELF satisfied;
We admire people who are, and we ourselves want to be, SELF assured;
We sacrifice time and energy to build our SELF worth;
We are taught to put our own needs first, to look out for number one, so we are SELF indulged;
We struggle to find alignment within our SELF;
We are told that it’s important to to find our SELF, as if the only lost person that matters is me!
… and of course we give our SELF permission to do all these things.
Many years ago a couple of theologians came up with an excellent and fun way to illustrate this. They called it Cat and Dog theology.
Here is an excerpt from their web site.
It's been said that "Dogs have Masters - Cats have Staff". And while you may "think" you own a cat, they consider you little more than staff. And, in a similar way many people "say" God is their Master, but they treat Him as their servant.
"A dog may look at you and think, 'You feed me, you pet me, you shelter me, you love me -- You must be god!"
But a cat looks at you and thinks, "You feed me, pet me, you shelter me, you love me --
I must be god!”
Now in case you think I am reckless and uncaring about your feelings or identity, let me tell what I actually think.
For me the terrible irony is that the longer we try to find worth, or value or significance in our selves the more discouraged and disillusioned we will become. My worth is not in me, it is in the one who values me. The great struggle for me is to reconcile the fact that I am a worthless sinner, who was worth Jesus dying for. I have long given up trying to find any value in myself, but I continue to be amazed at the value God placed on me when He sent His Son to die for me.
When it comes to theology, I want to be a dog - woof!