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Friday, March 4, 2011

John Piper's Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (revised edition)

I have heard a lot about John Piper in recent years, but have never had the chance to read any of his books until now.  Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist will make you think.  The book challenged me in the way I think about so many things in life.  What is my true purpose or goal?   I know that it is to glorify God, but how am I to go about doing that.  John Piper changes one word in an old creed to build his case that we are to be Christian Hedonists.  The creed says: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." (pg. 17) Piper changes it to: "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."(pg. 18)  After talking about how a Christian Hedonist is created, he then proceeds to present how we are to glorify God by enjoying Him in 8 different topics--worship, love, Scripture, prayer, money, marriage, missions and suffering.  

Like with any book, I do not agree with him on everything.  I wasn't too crazy about using the term Hedonist because of how we use that word in our current culture.  But there were many ideas and thoughts that he presented that challenged me.  Piper says, " It is better to say that we pursue our joy in God than to simply say that we pursue God.  For one can pursue God in ways that do not honor Him: 

'What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?' says the LORD; 'I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts.' (Isaiah 1:11) (ESV)

Our solemn assemblies may be a stench in God's nose (Amos 5:21-24).  It is possible to pursue God without glorifying God.  If we want our quest to honor God, we must pursue Him for the joy in fellowship with Him.  Consider the Sabbath as an illustration of this.  The Lord rebukes His people for seeking 'their own' pleasure on His holy day.  But what does He mean?  He means they are delighting in their business and not in the beauty of their God.  He does not rebuke their hedonism.  He rebukes the weakness of it.  They have settled for secular interests and thus honor them above the Lord....  [here he quotes Isaiah 58:13-14]  Notice that calling the Sabbath a delight is parallel to calling the holy day of the Lord honorable.  This simply means you honor what you delight in.  Or you glorify what you enjoy." (pgs. 306-307)  This is just a taste of the things Piper makes you think through.

There is also a study guide in the back of the book to use for personal use or in a group setting.  With some of the questions, I felt as though I was just re-writing what Piper had written in his book.  There were other thought questions that were great at making you think through Scripture.  I really appreciated that the reader was encouraged to pray using certain Psalms as a guide. 

I would recommend this book.  While I don't agree with everything, I think it is definitely worth reading and contemplating the issues he brings up.  It's definitely worth your time!

**I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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