When we think of the word center we think middle or mean. In politics, the center is the middle point between radicals on the left and right; we call them moderates. When we think of an object such as an apple, the center is the core or middle, the part of the apple that contains the seeds. In religion, however, the center involves religious dogma or teaching. It is that teaching that most influences the whole of the religion. What ought we to put at the center of our theology? The answer to such a question would surely influence how we, as believers, behave.
Some have suggested that we put grace at the center of our theology. Grace is God’s unmerited favor toward man. God has demonstrated this favor in sending His Son, Jesus, to the earth for the purpose of dying on the cross for the sins of man. Through Jesus sacrifice, God made it possible for man’s sins to be forgiven. There’s no doubt that grace is a very important part of theology, but is it the center? Ephesians 2:5 says that we are saved by grace through faith which puts faith in an equal position with grace. So, grace, by itself, can’t be the center of our theology.
Some have suggested that we put the Bible at the center of our theology. The Bible is definitely important. Without it we would have no knowledge about God, salvation, Jesus, faith, and just about any other subject in the Christian religion; after all, faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). However, the Bible is a tool for learning. It, in and of itself, isn’t the object or center of our theology. The Bible (God’s word) points back toward the giver of that word, God Himself.
Some have suggested that we put Jesus at the center of our theology. Certainly this comes closer in our efforts to define what is at the center of our theology. Jesus is our Savior; He is our King; He is our Lord. He is the one to whom we give allegiance as Christians and there’s no doubt that He ought to be constantly in our thinking. However, even Jesus acknowledged that He was here to do the Father’s will. Jesus said, I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (John 5:30). Jesus certainly comes closer than any particular doctrine or teaching and He points the way to what is at the center or heart of our theology (John 1:17).
So what ought to be the center of our theology? I would suggest that the word theology answers that question itself. God, with all of His attributes, is the center of our theology. Grace comes from God; faith comes from God; obedience comes from God as exemplified in the life of Jesus; the Bible comes from God as it is inspired by the Holy Spirit; love comes from God for God is love. Simply taking one aspect of God and putting it at the center of our theology really misses the point. God is at the center and His characteristics the subject of theology. The more we learn about God, the more we will be able to imitate His attributes and be like Him. Ephesians 5:1 says, Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children.