The center of all natural and supernatural reality is God. All being basically, initially and ultimately, focuses around and in the transcendent God and finds in Him its raison d'être. Theocentrism (God-centeredness), an explicit recognition of this fact, is a characteristic of certain philosophies, religions, theologies (systematic and otherwise), and asceticisms.
In philosophy, theocentrism may ultimately be regarded as an answer to man's intellectual quest for a unified explanation of the orientation of his own being to the whole order of being. There is ultimately one, necessary, absolute Being, independent of and transcending any other. This absolute Being is reasoned to be the infinite, eternal, unparticipated Being, which accounts for the coming-to-be and continued existence of all contingent beings. Opposed to philosophical theocentrism is the an thropocentrism or cosmocentrism of humanism, rationalism, naturalism, secularism, and materialism. There is, however, a true philosophical anthropocentrism, compatible with true theocentrism, when the metaphysics of God and creature is not perverted into a metaphysics of God or creature.
Theocentrism is characteristic of all true religion and theology. In the OT and the theology of the OT theocentrism is evident. In the NT the divine plan is revealed as simultaneously theocentric and Christocentric. It is theocentric because it was conceived by God from all eternity, adapted and prepared by Him for its full realization, and tends finally to His glory. It has the character of Christocentrism because Christ, the man Jesus, the one mediator between God and men, is revealed as also somehow at the center of the plan. Before the Incarnation the course of history moves toward Christ, and after the Incarnation history derives its direction from Him.
Theocentrism is not necessarily opposed to anthropocentrism in various parts of theology as they strive for some intelligence of the mysteries. Views of sin, for instance, may, on the one hand, emphasize what man's sin does to man, or, on the other, what man's sin "does" to God. So also for theories of the Redemption: the Anselmian view is theocentric—God tolerates no disorder in His kingdom; the Thomistic view is anthropocentric—man has fallen and must be raised again. In this case, the reason for the nonopposition is that neither explanation pretends to be adequate.
True asceticism must also be theocentric. It necessarily focuses on man's way to God. In the light of dogma, it recognizes that this Way is Christ and thus is likewise Christocentric. Man seeks his own salvation, and thus it is also anthropocentric.
Bibliography: h. u. von balthasar, Science, Religion and Christianity, tr. h. graef (Westminster, Md. 1958) 91–103. j. a. jungmann, Handing on the Faith, tr. and rev. a. n. fuerst (New York 1959) 143–146, 170–171, 400–401. j. c. murray, The Problem of God Yesterday and Today (The St. Thomas More Lectures 1; New Haven, Conn. 1964). k. rahner, Theological Investigations, tr. c. ernst et al. (Baltimore 1961–) 1:79–148; Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 1:632–634.
[b. a. lazor]