If there’s something that comes naturally to human beings, it’s the love of self. It’s no wonder, over the past couple of years several social movements have sprung up propagating the same.

The enemy is having a field day getting people caught up in themselves and unfortunately, it’s happening in church as well.

There is no shortage of a man-centered gospel in the sermons that we hear today. Most of them are characterized by feel-good messages about what God can do for us.

And we love them so much that we’ve become accustomed to this kind of theology and we’ll even go as far as to defend it as the Gospel.

What is a Man-Centered Gospel?

Simply put, a man centered gospel is a gospel in which man is the focal point. Our lives are defined by what we “need” or “desire” most according to a man-centered gospel. As such, God is seen as a means to achieve those needs and desires.

It has very little to do with sin, repentance, judgment, or the reality of hell. Often, it’s a message of love and acceptance for who we are.

Generally, man plays the leading role while God serves as the supporting cast.

“What does this mean to me?” is the Bible interpretation that a man-centered gospel will employ. And when this is the question that guides the interpretation and application of scripture, inevitably the message will revolve around you. And that’s where the problem lies.

The Problem with a Man-Centered Gospel

A man-centered message will sound something like this, “God accepts you for who you are; He has high hopes and dreams for you; He wants to solve all your problems be it money, health, or even relationships, and He is patiently waiting for you to open the door to release blessings and breakthroughs. All you need to do is turn from your sin and trust God with your life.”

I’m sure you’ve come across such a message before. However, if that didn’t make you cringe, it should have because it’s not entirely scriptural. Nonetheless, it’s music to the ears. I mean, who wouldn’t want their dreams to come true? Or have their problems solved?

But as good as that sounds it downplays the sinful nature of man and the severity of God’s punishment for sin. Making it dangerous.

It focuses on pleasing man rather than glorifying God because it fails to hold people accountable for their transgressions against Him. It appeals to man’s view of himself and puts an emphasis on “God loves you and wants this and that for you” instead of “Repent”.

“Man-centered theology is always met with a warm handshake by those who fail to grasp that God is God and man is not.”
William T. Maddox

What is the True Gospel?

The true gospel, on the other hand, puts Christ at the center. You probably already know that the Gospel means good news if you attended Sunday School. This good news is that Christ died on the cross so that all who believe in Him may be saved. Therefore, preaching Christ crucified should take center stage as far as the gospel is concerned (1 Cor 1:23).

Moreover, from the beginning to the end, the Bible is about Jesus Christ. While Christ may not be evident in the minor details of the Old Testament stories, the overarching theme of the Bible points to Him.

We see this right from Genesis 3:15; Jesus is the offspring of the woman who crushed the serpent’s head. He is also the promised seed through whom Abraham would become a blessing to all nations in Genesis 22:18. The message of the prophets also pointed to Him (Acts 3:24).

The everlasting kingdom promised to David was fulfilled through Him. In addition, the book of Hebrews in chapters 8, 9, and 10 goes into great detail to demonstrate how the old covenant was a foreshadowing of the good things that would come through Christ.

As J. Vernon McGee once said, “The Bible is a Him book.”

The True Gospel Confronts Sin

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). And at the heart of the gospel is the cross (1 Cor 1:23). To understand the worth of the cross, the true gospel will point to the radical sinfulness of man and not merely gloss over it (Psalm 51:5).

It points out that our sin is so severe that it warrants a hefty punishment from a righteous and holy God ( 2 Thes 1:8-9). The good news though, is that through the death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are guaranteed salvation from the punishment for our sins and eternal life if we confess and believe (Rom 10:9).

And the best part is that redemption is not dependent on our effort or good deeds (Eph 2:8). Christ is solely responsible for it. Out of a great love for us, right from the fall God orchestrated a beautiful plan that would perfectly achieve our salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 3:16). That’s the message that the Gospel conveys.

Related: What is the message of the gospel? 

The Dangers of a Man-Centered Gospel

It contributes to and supports a narcissistic culture

A man-centered theology fosters self-absorption and self-centeredness. This is incoherent with what the Gospel stands for since it encourages self-denial.

Moreover, it points out severally that God delights in broken, humble, meek, and contrite hearts. And contrary to denying oneself, focusing on oneself is on the other extreme of the pendulum. 

As such a man-centered gospel only serves to fuel a culture that is resistant to the gospel. It’s self-seeking making it no different from New Age teachings. In fact, I’m willing to bet that such a gospel would be acceptable in any secular setting without the mention of God or the Bible.

It results in depressed people

It’s natural to think highly of ourselves. And a man-centered theology encourages such a mindset. But one thing we can count on in life is that things don’t always go our way. And if we are too concerned about ourselves, it can be hard to accept and overcome life’s challenges.

You’ll find that the less we are concerned about ourselves the more fulfilling life will be. In addition, the Bible teaches that God is sovereign and in control of every situation (Deut 31:8). This is such a comforting truth in times of trouble and suffering that a man-centered gospel doesn’t convey.

The fact is, as believers, it is not about us. It is not about my happiness, my joy, or my well-being. It is about the glory of God and the kingdom of Christ. The only means to real joy and contentment is to make His glory the supreme objective in my life.
Elisabeth Elliott

Failure to preach such Biblical truths deprives the heart of the opportunity to be anchored in fundamental truths that will keep it safe when the storms rage. This can result in hopelessness and despair when suffering comes knocking. 

It produces theologically illiterate people

A man-centered theology leads to Biblically illiterate and spiritually starved Christians. The truth is even Christians need to hear the gospel again and again.

It doesn’t matter what point a Christian is in their salvation journey. They never graduate from the need to hear the good news that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected.

The gospel is tied to the process of sanctification in the believer (1 Cor 6:11). It’s by hearing the gospel and applying it that they bear fruit (John 15 4-5). Preaching that omits the message of the cross is preaching that makes the assumption that God’s people understand the gospel sufficiently which is never the case.

A service at Lakewood Church where they preach a man centered gospel

Related: Why Christians Need to Continually Hear the Gospel

It leads to false conversions

For those who are yet to come to the faith, this kind of teaching does very little as far as evangelism is concerned. At best, it does nothing to point people to their sinfulness. And at worst, it leads to false conversions.

Most man-centered sermons will end in an altar call that reduces salvation to a one-way ticket to breakthroughs, health, success, and prosperity. As such, people receive such a message with gladness as opposed to sorrow for sins they’ve committed which is necessary for repentance.

More often than not, the assumption is that saying the sinner’s prayer is tantamount to salvation. However, a saving faith is preceded by hearing the true gospel (Rom 10:17). That’s why we have so many people who think they are born again yet they’re unconverted (Matt 15:8). When tribulation and persecution come such people fall away from the ‘faith’ because they were never of the faith, to begin with (Luke 8:13:1 John 2:18-19).

“If you meet with a system of Theology which magnifies man, flee from it as far as you can.”
Charles Spurgeon


I’m not advocating for a man-neglected theology. It’s clear in the bible that we have an important part to play in the good news. However, it’s not in the unhealthy way a man centered theology presents it.

Profound reverence, deep repentance, and humility are vocabularies that are glaringly absent from the man centered gospel.

As a result, this “seeker-friendly” approach to theology fails to transform people to become God-centered and God-fearing. It solely focuses on bringing man peace, comfort, happiness, and satisfaction while putting very little emphasis on living a life that glorifies God.

Ultimately, to seek after self is tantamount to rejecting God that is why it’s important to steer clever of man-centered theology.

Related: Meology vs Theology: How Self-Focus Has Infiltrated the Church


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  1. […] recently wrote a post on a man-centered gospel and why we should be wary of it. And since the feedback on it was great, I thought it would be […]

  2. avatar
    Sam Murai says:

    “Most man-centered sermons will end in an altar call that reduces salvation to a one-way ticket to breakthroughs, health, success, and prosperity. As such, people receive such a message with gladness as opposed to sorrow for sins they’ve committed which is necessary for repentance.”

    It’s, unfortunately, what’s happening in the church today left right, and center. I pray that this writing will shed light on the entire planet and bring a solid perspective of worship even to those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    1. avatar
      Wanjiru Ng'ang'a says:

      Amen and amen Sam. Thank you for sharing.

  3. avatar

    Nice piece

    1. avatar
      Wanjiru Ng'ang'a says:

      Thank you Ryan 🙏!!

  4. avatar
    Samuel Parmat says:

    Whatever happened to you must continue to happen 😹, you know what I mean. This is profound and true to the very core.

    1. avatar
      Wanjiru Ng'ang'a says:

      😂😂 From your lips to God’s ears. Thank you Parmat for sharing you thoughts.

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