Last year I read and reviewed Piper’s Think and was exceedingly impressed by his clarity of vision, pastoral wisdom and ability to exhort believers to a deeper and more profound mode of faith. From his most recent work, I now travel back to the book that really lit the fire.
25 years ago Desiring God was released bringing the concept of Christian Hedonism front and center theologically. Many learned men and women have commended this book and my added voice to the chorus of thanks to God for this work is not that important, but I am nonetheless deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to read this book.
After recounting his own journey toward and into Christian Hedonism, Piper then takes ten chapters to explain, develop and defend Christian Hedonism. In a most simplified format, this idea is laid out as:
The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.
This statement will likely rankle those set on an ascetic vision of faith, though the paths may not be entirely incompatible so long as in the denial of self, the pursuit of joy and happiness is still secured in the person of God. But to be an ascetic who denies the validity of happiness and joy would be in direct opposition to what Piper lays out. There are some who would say that the mark of a Christian is discipline and endurance, but I am with Piper in saying that there must be an addition to that statement. The Christian should not be one bearing drudgery. No, the mark of a Christian should be discipline and endurance with joy!
Piper draws from many long gone theologians, and prolifically from Jonathan Edwards. In fact, one of the most precious things about this work is seeing how thankfully and happily Piper relies on the works of someone who walked before him. Piper is not interested in showing himself to be the originator of the idea; indeed he seems dead set against such an endeavor, but instead works diligently to show that the Scriptures not only commend that man pursue joy, but that they command that work.
Having laid a sure foundation of the importance of man seeking his joy in glorifying God, the book then deals with many foundational areas such as Worship, Scripture, Money and Missions. I will say that the most piercing chapters for myself were on Prayer and Marriage. To be reminded of the absolute centrality of prayer in the life of the Christian, and how that pertains to our joy as we confess our utter dependence on God is a welcome corrective to my often lackluster prayer life. And to read the argument that in marriage one must set their hearts desire on the desires of their spouses hearts has called me to better and more deliberate action in loving, serving and caring for my beloved Sarah Grace.
If you don’t want to buy the book (link at the top through Amazon), the book is available for free online at DesiringGod.org but I highly recommend the purchase of this 25th anniversary edition. It contains a detailed study guide that will help readers and groups get the most from this magnificent book and contains John Piper’s own updates and editions to this, his most enduring work.
A review copy was provided to me at no charge by the publisher. No attempt was made to gain a favorable review, and all opinions and recommendations expressed are the author’s own.