Part 5. Theocentrism and Anthropocentrism
Political policies have a theocentric or anthropocentric background, and this is the reason why it leads to conflicts with us Christians. There are some Christians who support left-wing policies without considering it, and it is a strange phenomenon. Essentially, left-wing policies represent the highest form of anthropocentrism. However, even Christianity has become completely contaminated by anthropocentric ideas. It is not about saying, “I support this person politically.” It is not a political issue but a matter of fundamental attitudes toward human life. The same goes for the whole world.
Have we not already tasted the bitterness of Christianity tainted by the anthropocentric way of thinking? They have shamelessly spread lies and constantly claimed democracy and liberty, but they have a strong tendency towards collectivism, which is socialism. Socialism is actually the pinnacle of anthropocentrism. Such a tendency is spreading throughout the world.
This problem is severe in the United States. There are two parties in the United States: Republican and Democratic parties. This is not simply a partisan issue but rather a matter of attitude toward life: life paradigm. So, it is very difficult to bridge the gap because the roots are fundamentally different: anthropocentric thinking comes from this world, but theocentric thinking comes from Heaven, not this world. The value of conservatism is from the theocentric way of thinking. This is acknowledged only in the Bible, not in any other place in the world. I am saying that liberalism and individualism are good. Individualism refers to each individual taking responsibility for themselves. This concept originated from the Bible, not from the world. There is a saying in the Bible, “Reward every man according to his deeds.” Although we are now working together in the church, in the end, each person will be accountable individually before God. Working alongside Semuon does not guarantee anyone a ticket to Heaven. Just because Semuon will go to Heaven, it does not automatically secure the same fate for his fellow workers. Each individual who worked with faith will be rewarded accordingly, while those who did not rely on their faith will have to bear their own responsibility. The fundamental principle of individualism is centered around “personal choice and responsibility.” Some people mistakenly consider individualism as not cooperating with the public, but this is not the case at all. In Western societies, cooperation is actually more prevalent compared to other societies. This inclination is rooted in their Christian foundation.
Conversely, many countries that do not have a Christian foundation lack social integration, and people treat each other like slaves and do not respect human rights at all. While Western societies attach great importance to the issue of human rights, many Asian societies often seem to pretend to support each other and respect human rights, but they ignore human rights in reality. Most Asian societies are moving towards totalitarianism, which is a controlled society.
Therefore, the age of political divisions, such as “left-wing and right-wing” or “conservative and progressive,” is gradually disappearing. It is expanding into the realm of people’s thoughts and attitudes about understanding the world. This shift has led to blurring the borderline between religion and politics. When politics and religion were separated, political change did not significantly impact Christian lives. However, it is not that time anymore; now is an age that politics impacts much on us. In certain Western societies, for example, the use of “He” when referring to God is no longer acceptable. Instead, alternative language options like “he/she” or other neutral terms should be used. Insisting on using only “he” can lead to fines or penalty points. Such incidents can be reported by school classmates, and the school will impose demerits, affecting individuals in various ways, from financial matters to career advancements. They are trying to enact legislation that, once enacted, would most likely be reported and imprisoned while the church minister was preaching. This is what happened in the Obama era, and then in the Trump era, all of those things were abolished and overturned again. Christians who do not have any idea on this issue should not be swayed by unbelievers. We should be well aware of what is happening now.
The whole world is now divided into two parts, and the background of it is Marxism. The basic concept of Marxism is to divide the world into two factions and then cause a struggle. In the past, they divided people into the bourgeoisie and the proletariat so that the two classes would fight spontaneously. In our country, when the leftists were in power, they persistently categorized people into two classes. As a result, the conflicts among people have become very acute. Even the former good neighbors became enemies, so they fought each other. If formal discussions on topics like property rights and demolition law were initiated, chaos would ensue within 10 minutes, turning neighbor against neighbor. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is happening all over society right now, even in churches. In many churches, brothers and sisters are suddenly blushed and cursing each other like enemies. But this is not merely a matter related to the view of the church, but it is a consequence of the penetration of Marxist ideology. Also, within the workplace, colleagues who previously worked together have engaged in conflicts by dividing themselves into labor and management. Moreover, the people of the same country suddenly separated into ruling and controlled classes, engaging in conflicts marked by stone-throwing and turmoil. Regrettably, those things have now infiltrated the church.
European and American societies have also constantly divided into two. For instance, Feminism has divided the world into women and men, portraying men as oppressors and women as victims. According to this logic, men are the target of destruction completely. This influence has affected South Korea, and a fierce conflict is occurring. Even if we do not know much about this, it has caused a bloody storm in the online world. This perspective has caused intense conflicts even within families. What do young people call elderly people these days? They now call the elders “oldie” or “boomer” because they perceive elders as stubborn and rustic. This even happens within their own household. They then spread this divisive and hostile mentality throughout society. For example, they divide people into sexual minorities and non-minorities. They keep picking fights and making confrontations and take advantage of it. They also are trying to subvert our established values.
The current situation is a global phenomenon, and it is very serious in Europe and the United States. Behind the scenes, other factors, such as Islam, are all interlinked. Although the forms of expression are different, it ultimately centers on the division in the way of life between theocentrism and anthropocentrism. Even within the church, this struggle has occurred between these perspectives. Previously, we thought they were similar to us, but when they split up, we can witness what they talk about and think is exactly the same as Feminists, Marxists, and labor unions. They all emphasize on being “people-oriented.”
Similarly, within the church, some insist that “Each church member comes first.” Such words would sound pleasant. Have you heard them say, “I am the church?” In fact, this sentence is derived from “I am the nation.” This is something very strange. They claim each individual is the nation and say, “When I am happy, that means this country is running well.” Likewise, saying, “I am the church,” is easy for people to be misled into thinking they have a sense of ownership. But that is not the case, and the truth is that they insist on doing things in their own way.
Why are these ideas so widely spread? Why is such a thought popular in Christianity? This is an inevitable outcome because Christianity has been turned into an anthropocentric perspective. What is in the process of being an anthropocentric way of thinking? There was the anthropocentric interpretation of the Bible. They only claimed that Jesus came to save humanity, and in this way, the outcome would be predictable. So, it leads to a conclusion like this, “Because Jesus came to save humanity, God loves humanity more than Jesus,” it is very natural.
When I was in the military, I seriously heard someone ask this question. I participated in a Bible study of an army missionary group, and a fellow soldier leading the study said, “Jesus died for humanity.” Then, someone immediately asked, “Does God love humans more than Jesus?” Even though I had attended the Sungrak Church for just three months before joining the military, I found this question very silly. I desired to answer, but my military ranks stopped me. Sadly, the leader hesitated and could not give him a clear answer, then changed to another topic. It was very unfortunate.
However, it is prevalent. If God puts His son to death for us, then He loves us more than His son, which leads to the notion that humans inherently deserve His love. That is why they often say, “God loves you,” when they reach out to non-believers. However, I find this approach unsatisfactory. Instead, we should convey, “You are a sinner and an enemy of God! God loves Jesus, but you are a Dogshit. If you do not believe it, you will surely die, be cursed, and perish forever as God’s enemy. Yet, there is only one way to be saved. If you come into Jesus and unite with Him, you can receive God’s love.” That is the message we should be conveying. So, I would like to suggest replacing “God is love” with “God loves Jesus” or “God loves Jesus only.” Without the awareness of impending God’s judgment and punishment, when we say, “God loves you,” some people answer back, “I don’t need that kind of love,” and ignore like this.
Nowadays, many Christians are stuck in such thinking, so also in the church, they are trapped in an egocentric mindset that revolves around “me” and “my life.” Since they always think about “What will happen to my life?” and it leads them to ask God, “What is Your will for me?” These questions align with egocentrism, whereas the perspective of theocentric view is very strange. Inquiring, “God, what is Your will for me?” might indicate that one considers themselves on equal footing with God. What will God do to you? If you do not believe in Jesus, you do not even have the right to come to God. God only has had the will concerning Jesus and said that whoever enters into Jesus should become like Jesus by following Him. It is not just explicitly given to you but to all of humanity. Therefore, God said, “Come into Jesus, everyone.” So, what comes next? “Jesus is the way, so you must live like Jesus.”
Some ask, “Should I offer my life to God or not? Which is God’s will?” Of course, it is good to be dedicated. It is not a matter of God’s will or not, and the problem is that you may not be ready yet. Some individuals need to undergo more training to serve as workers of God. That is why experienced seniors sometimes advise them to prepare more before devotion. This is because seniors can discern this at a glance. So, when you do not know what to do, it is better to take advice from your pastor and think of it as God’s Word. Most of the time, they can see the potential outcomes based on the choices you make. Many times, it actually happens. Therefore, you should respect the advice given by your seniors. Of course, this is not to say that God does not listen to your prayers. He guides each person according to their own standards. We should not look for God’s will in our perspective as individuals but unite with Jesus because Jesus is God’s will. God’s will has always centered on Jesus, not on us individually.
Accordingly, it leads to, “God predestined you for this from the eternity past.” It is linked with anthropocentric thought with predestination. This notion continues to develop various concepts, eventually leading to conclusions like the following. For example, there happened to be a disaster such as a car accident, and they cannot believe it happened to them and think, ‘Even if God is with me, how could this happen?’ Then, this thought process results in two possible scenarios: blaming God and denying His presence with questions like ‘Where is God?’ and simply choosing disbelief. But if some of the others want to keep their faith, what will they do? They may ponder, “Why on earth is God like this? What is His purpose in this?” Eventually, those who decide to love God might conclude that there are aspects that God does not know. This is the concept of “Open theology,” as I mentioned last week, which is very popular today. They argue, “God did not know something; He has blind spots. Since He entrusted part of His will to mankind, we must together consult and work to make history with God.” That is to say, they put all the blame on God. Although such an explanation may make one feel that God is kind, warm, and friendly, the problem is diminishing His omnipotence and power. Does He still qualify as God? Nevertheless, these people are satisfied with this perspective, even becoming tainted by other polytheistic ideas in the world. They are just satisfied with these limited beliefs.
Therefore, even if they claim to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the God they believe in is not omnipotent. Does this mean that they genuinely believe in God? Is this true belief in Jesus as the Son of God? Not at all. When people go all the way to an anthropocentric way of thinking, they inevitably grow accepting of homosexuality because the basic demand of homosexuals is, “Love me as I am.” They prioritize human desires above everything else. However, as Christians, we have standards, and our standard is Jesus because Jesus is righteousness. But nowadays, people consider themselves righteous, so they argue, “You should accept and love us without discrimination.” Why do they accuse others of not loving them? Should they feel honored as a homosexual? They do not consider the need for repentance and instead judge those with different views. It is so weird.
Although Western societies began based on Christianity, they are now rapidly moving in such strange directions. When tracing it back, it is the struggle between theocentrism and anthropocentrism. Therefore, even if individuals hear the gospel and change, they still insist, like, “This is from God, not humans. Why should I give thanks to humans?” This leads to an attitude of attacking and criticizing, even as they enjoy the benefits of the civilization brought by Christianity. In contrast, those with genuine theocentric thinking express gratitude in any situation.
Theocentric individuals recognize that the world is not heaven, so they do not place their hope in this world. Anthropocentric individuals attempt to make this world a kind of heaven to achieve absolute freedom or perfect human rights with false hope. However, theocentric individuals strive to accumulate treasure in Heaven.
Currently, we can observe clashes of civilizations on a global scale. In particular, there is a conflict between theocentrism and anthropocentrism. This clash of ideologies could potentially escalate into actual armed conflicts within our society in the future. As we are currently within the church, it might be difficult to perceive the extent of these tensions. However, there are ongoing movements in society that indicate this trend. Because these developments may not be readily visible in our immediate surroundings, we might not consider these issues significant at the moment. Nevertheless, these occurrences could gradually encroach upon us over time.
As the Scripture says, “If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came,” those who receive God’s word are indeed gods. As those who receive God’s word, we should continue to nourish more people through the Word of God so that they can also be blessed. Now, we pray that believers all around the world will overcome persecution and be victorious until the end.
Heavenly Father, thank you for raising us with the Spiritual Word of Heaven, through which we have raised countless souls and nations of the world. Help them become Heavenly people! Let them have enough room to overcome the erosion of anthropocentrism rising in this world so that every soul and church can be victorious, overcome, and conquer so that they manifest themselves as Heavenly beings. Pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
Lunch prayer meeting, Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on June 12, 2019
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team