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Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist

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Scripture reveals that the great business of life is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. In this paradigm-shattering classic, newly revised and expanded, John Piper reveals that the debate between duty and delight doesn't truly Delight is our duty. Readers will embark on a dramatically different and joyful experience of their faith

The pursuit of pleasure is not optional. It is essential.

Scripture reveals that the great business of life is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. In this paradigm-shattering work, John Piper reveals that the debate between duty and delight doesn’t truly Delight is our duty. Join him as he unveils stunning, life-impacting truths you saw in the Bible but never dared to believe.

369 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1986

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About the author

John Piper

549 books3,904 followers
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.), and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years, he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem.

John is the author of more than 50 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and twelve grandchildren.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 964 reviews
Profile Image for Natalie Vellacott.
Author 18 books858 followers
January 28, 2018
"We will go far beyond mere happiness in our Christian life, but our true purpose on this earth is obedience and sanctification, not personal gratification." Contrast this statement from Charles Colson's Lies That Go Unchallenged in Popular Culture with Piper's statement that "The pursuit of pleasure is not optional. It is essential."

I reject the concept of Christian hedonism which is most likely the reason why I didn't get very far with this book. It represents popular culture's obsession with ourselves and our personal satisfaction and fulfillment. I appreciate that Piper is suggesting that we should seek to find this only in God but I believe it is the wrong focus in the first place.

I actually gave up on the book after the first few chapters. I read it because Christians all around me on Logos Hope (a missionary ship) were raving about it and saying how great it was. After a few chapters, I came across a description of a "Christian hedonist." I had never heard the term used before. The author suggests we should all be aiming for this higher state and that unless we reach it we are not fulfilling God's true potential for us. How do we reach it? By aiming to be 100% satisfied personally in our Christian walk. I found this concept difficult...is OUR OWN personal satisfaction something we should really have as our ultimate goal?...That seems a bit selfish. What about when we don't feel satisfied ....does that mean we are not fulfilling God's potential for us? Does it mean we aren't saved? Should we base anything on how we feel on a daily basis? It is surely dangerous to rely on certain feelings in connection with our salvation--our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and our feelings subjective and changeable.

What is the evidence that we love/desire God "If you love me, you will OBEY my commands" (John 14 vs 15.) The Bible doesn't give other requirements and I don't believe Christian hedonism is a healthy pursuit. I stopped reading the book as it could lead to the conclusion that if one doesn't have certain experiences they are not saved, which is clearly wrong thinking.

I would warn Christian readers to be careful with this book...
Profile Image for Stephie.
8 reviews
April 5, 2011
I love this book. The primary message is this: not only is it our chief end as humans to desire God and enjoy Him forever, but is it God's chief end to glorify himself and enjoy himself forever.

This book has been instrumental for me in understanding God's justice & mercy and how they play out perfectly together for his glory...even when it's hard to see or understand.

I strongly recommend this book as a foundational read for anyone who struggles with questions like: "why is the universe the way it is?", "what is the purpose of my life?" or "why did God allow (fill in the blank) to happen."
Profile Image for Sagely.
234 reviews20 followers
April 28, 2013
John Piper exerts tremendous influence over the hearts, minds, careers, and relationships of some of my dearest friends. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, in particular, stands as a turning point in many of their stories of following Jesus.

I haven't been a fan of Piper. There was a point in the mid-2000s when I didn't mind hearing one of his sermons now and again, but his fierce rhetoric on gender relations and his assumed ability to name who's in and out of God's family and God's judgment have left me with a foul taste in my mouth. To me, his example and message distort Jesus'. This is led to some long, hard discussions with friends who exult over Piper's way of propounding "biblical truth." No relationships have been shipwrecked over Piper yet, but he makes himself quite the obstacle at times.

My dirty secret is that I've read little of what Piper's written (maybe The Supremacy of God in Preaching and parts of Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions for seminary courses). Most of my opinion of him is based on Internet hearsay. The blogosphere really shouldn't constitute the basis of our opinions of anyone, right?

So I picked up Desiring God, finally choosing to read it myself.

I sincerely hoped, even expected, that Piper might say something in this book that would change my attitude toward him. The saying goes that God draws straight lines with crooked sticks. Some of Piper's statements, actions, and positions are ridiculously wrong-headed--but what if that's just the crookedness of the stick? (After all, I read Augustine, even though he said some noxious things in his life.) Might not God have given Piper some insight, some truth that Jesus' followers need now more than ever? I hoped this would be the case.

As I read the Introduction and first chapter, I was hopeful. Piper seemed to be making an appeal for reconsidering the place of the affections in our discipleship. This is a message that I need to hear--too often I suppress my feelings in favor of what I know. I need my heart to burn with fierce longing for God's kingdom; I need to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. An appeal to a spirituality centered on joy seems like it may be just that.

But that's not the kind of joy Piper's talking about. Piper let's show a little bit of his own story in comments here and there. He grew up in a joyless branch of Christianity, a Reformed asceticism (the same one that drove the early industrial economy, right?). Joy--as in enjoy>ment was frowned upon as unholy and selfish. I trust that Piper needed a revival of joy in his life. It surely is joyful to follow God at times!

But joy, at its heart, is always a communal reality. It's something that we feel with others, with many others, or at least wish we could. Piper pays lip service to this idea with quote from C S Lewis. But joy as Piper presents it is fundamentally a personal reality--personal, as in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Piper's argument for Christian hedonism is that God commands us to delight in God. He spells this out as meaning we are to take delight in God's increasing glory. Rejoicing as God's becomes evermore glorious (in God's own Trinitarian self-regard) is the human person's greatest joy because this is what we were created for--to be amplifiers or magnifiers of God's joy. It is our greatest joy because the alternative is God's wrathful punishment. There is no third option. Every other source of happiness or delight becomes bitter if our lack of joy in God results in our eternal damnation.

The basic question of Christian hedonism is the orientation of the individual soul with respect to God: do we delight in God's glory or hate it? If one delights in God's glory, then one's personal, individual delight will be great, and one will cling to and be sustained by that ultimate delight, regardless of one's situation, experiences, and relationships. If one continues to hate God's glory, then one's eternal punishment will invalidate every accidental happiness. Joy is corollary to personal salvation and tangential to human relationships.

This tangential character of the pursuit of joy in God comes through in subsequent chapters where Piper tries to situate Christian hedonism in a variety of spheres: worship, service, money, marriage, missions, suffering. Piper's philosophy remains an abstract arm's length from any of these real, human, interpersonal situations. Each chapter feels more like an exercise in moral calculus than practical theological wisdom for living discipleship.

Piper's refrain by the end of the book is that Christian hedonism finds its fountain of joy in God and overflows in love for neighbor. That's how it feels: Rather than jumping into the stream, this stream that might bubble up just about anywhere, Christian hedonism feels like an industrial waterworks, with too many moving parts, gears and levers, to be the overflowing life of God.

Besides the conflict caused by my basic conviction that discipleship, as well as joy and glory, are fundamentally communal realities, I also found Desiring God frustrating to read at a literary level. Its subtitle is: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Each chapter felt like just that: a meditation, a detached pensee, rather than an unfolding argument. I want a sustained engagement with Piper's thought; here I found fleeting passes, never enough for me to really sink my teeth into.

Perhaps I chose the wrong place to start a serious interaction with Piper. Friends, if there are better books that Piper has written, please let me know. Overall, I found Desiring God disappointing.
Profile Image for Jenny Jo Weir.
1,545 reviews79 followers
February 2, 2021
Although I usually enjoy John Piper books, this one was a bit too scholarly for me personally. It felt a little too much like a college course and it was a bit to intellectual, versus relatable. It's not a bad book, but it's definitely more for people who like research and cross referencing. I'm more of a "tell me a story" type person. Also, it's a long book, but it felt like it would take me a month to get through.
Profile Image for Khari.
2,379 reviews56 followers
November 3, 2019
Hallelujah! It's over! Praise God!

Excuse me a moment while I go purge Piper from my to-read list. There. Done. Never again will I read another one of his books.

This book was disappointing on so many levels. It had a great title! Whose promise was never delivered. It had a couple of good chapters, at the beginning. I started it full of expectations, hope, and innocence, it quickly turned into disbelief, despair, and even a bit of anger.

I did not like this book. It was extremely difficult to finish reading it. I desperately didn't want to finish it, but it's important to read books you dislike, by people you disagree with, if only to sharpen your arguments against them.

I hated this book for several reasons, one is for how Piper takes things out of context right and left. Now, every author who writes about the Bible cherry-picks to some extent. The Bible is very long, and there is no way to write about everything that is in it, you have to limit the extent of what you are focusing on. However, when you are limiting your focus, you can't just completely ignore things that contradict the philosophical construct you are building, and Piper does exactly that. His basic idea is that Christians should live a 'Christian Hedonistic' lifestyle, where we live for our own joy which he defines as finding pleasure in God and in doing what he wants. Okay, nothing objectionable there, except everything implied by the word 'hedonistic'. Piper has obviously faced a lot of criticism about his use of that word, as evidenced by an entire prologue justifying his use of it, two chapters, and an appendix defending himself against basically every current day theologian. (You would think if all of these people were writing well thought out and biblical critiques he would pause for a moment and reconsider his usage, but nope). He's faced a lot of criticism and he defends himself by giving a partial definition from a dictionary. Partial. Hedonism is living for the purpose of your own pleasure. Yes, that's partially the semantics of the word. But let's focus on that word 'your own' as in 'self'. Hedonism is pleasure of the self, you cannot simply sneak God into it by saying that you are pleasing yourself 'in God'. That's like saying pleasing yourself in sex. Sex is the tool by which you are pleasing yourself. God has become a tool. Piper skeeters off this by saying something to the effect that God doesn't care that you are using him as a tool because what God wills is being done, never mind the fact that it is being done in a mercenary manner. No, it cannot be mercenary because it's for God.

Not only that, but Piper is ignoring the part of hedonism where it's living for the pursuit of the pleasure of the now. There is no consideration for the future self, future others, family, nation, state, world, anything. You can't just ignore that part of the definition, which Piper does. He says we live for pleasure in God, we experience, joy, delight, satisfaction, and pleasure in God....in heaven.

No duh.

That's kind of the definition of heaven. And definitely not the definition of hedonism, I'm pretty sure that has another term, could it be 'delayed gratification'? But no, let's not use the term that everyone knows and understands, let's twist the word 'hedonism' around into something that it never meant, and will never mean and give it something new and exciting, so that we can present really basic Christian truths like 'don't steal' 'pray' and 'give tithes' a breath of fresh air.

It's not only basic English and Greek words that he uses out of context, it's the Bible itself. He takes all sorts of verses about delighting in the Lord, and being glad, and defines them out to an extreme, then ignores other verses that go against his idea. At one point he said 'If we do not find pleasure in doing God's work, then God doesn't find pleasure in us'. Pardon me, but Christ sweat blood in the garden because of his suffering in view of what he was going to have to do on the cross. He begged God to make a different path for him. Yes, he went through the crucifixion and carrying our sin for us, but he wasn't doing it while singing praises and having a grand time of it. He suffered. He told us 'take up your cross and follow me.' He never claimed following him was going to be roses and butterflies of joy. He promised it would be difficult, involve sacrifice, and persecution. He promised that there would be times of joy, and times of sadness, times of dancing, and times of crying. Piper completely ignores the suffering half of the equation.

It's not only basic biblical truths that are twisted out of alignment in this book. If you were to read this book you would think that historical theologians of all backgrounds: Barth, Augustine, Edwards, Chesterton and Lewis all agreed with Piper that 'christian hedonism' was the way to go. That seeking after the feeling of joy and pleasure was the end all and be all of Christianity. Well, maybe Barth, and Edwards would agree with him, after all, I've never read Barth, and only read 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God' by Edwards, so for all I know that is what they say. But Augustine? Chesterton? Lewis?!!! I've read nearly everything Lewis has ever written and he would have some exquisitely polite British barbs for the sheer audacity of Piper to so misrepresent his way of thinking about Christianity. Lewis struggled for years with his relationship with God because he never experienced transcendental joy or a conversion moment. His coming to Christ was gradual, and intellectual. God found him through his mind and through his reason and through his attraction to mythology. God is cool like that, he will approach each person as an individual, finding the chink in their armor that will open up their heart. One of Lewis' greatest points was that feelings are transient and you cannot use them to measure your relationship with God. Feelings will change. You cannot cling to them. If God blesses you with joyful worship, thank him for it, enjoy it and praise him for it, but don't try to cling to it. It will pass, and even though it passes it doesn't grant you absolution to cease worshiping.

Honestly, Piper should read a bit more and actually think about what people are saying instead of reading to justify his own ideology.
Profile Image for J. Aleksandr Wootton.
Author 6 books134 followers
January 3, 2022
DNF. So don't put too much stock in that two-star rating.

Someone gave me this book in my early teens. I tried reading it twice, and both times stopped after the introduction: it seemed to me that Piper had conveyed his complete argument there, and if I kept on reading, all I would uncover was needless elaboration.

When I first heard of the book, its core idea did indeed seem to be as "paradigm-shattering" as its hype and marketing are pleased to proclaim. And in that respect, as the vehicle that popularized a foundational Christian idea which the Calvinist / Puritan / Reformed traditions had under-emphasized almost to the point of total loss, it is a worthy work which has done many people good.

On the other hand, Piper does claim to present, as if for the first time, an insight long-present in Judeo-Christian theology that was hidden in plain sight. But it wasn't hidden at all. Many theologians, poets, psalmists, and devotees of both faiths had written much the same thing. Nor did they consider it particularly wondrous or profound. Perhaps the most striking example appears in C.S. Lewis' Reflections on the Psalms (published ~30 years before Desiring God), in which Lewis makes the exact same observation about the Westminster Catechism and claims that "a moment's thought" will reveal to anyone that worship and enjoyment of God are one and the same.

As I've gotten older and better informed about Christianity, my mind keeps straying back to the Desiring God phenomenon. And I've begun to wonder whether its popularity has less to do with how insightful it is, and more to do with how underexposed and ignorant we of non-liturgical churches have become, through successive generations of tradition-shedding, to the fullness and richness of our theological heritage.

To illustrate that thought with a personal anecdote: I'm pretty sure that despite growing up "churched," the back cover of Desiring God was the first place I encountered an actual quote from the Westminster Catechism.
Profile Image for David Steele.
Author 5 books177 followers
January 16, 2013
Desiring God is a book devoted to helping readers find their happiness in God. The theme is that "God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in him." Dr. Piper carefully builds his case for this concept and calls it Christian hedonism. The issue for the Christian is one of desire. Will one feast on the pleasures of sin or will he run to the streams that God offers and drink from his delights.

Christian hedonism is really a philosophy of life that is driven by five convictions. 1) The longing to be happy is a universal experience, and it is good, not sinful. 2) We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy. Rather we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction. 3) The deepest and most enduring happiness is found in God alone. 4) The happiness we find in God reaches its consummation when it is shared with others in love. 5) To the extent we try to abandon the pursuit of our own pleasure, we fail to honor God and love people. Or, to put it positively: the pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of all worship and virtue. In other words, the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.

Piper develops the concept of Christian hedonism by applying the principles to the subjects of conversion, worship, love, Scripture, prayer, money, marriage, missions and suffering (Suffering has been added to the tenth anniversary edition of the book).

Desiring God is filled to the rim with strengths. The writing is clear and thought-provoking. The content is not abstract and unrelated to life. Rather it hits the reader right between the eyes with the truth of God. Second, the writer comes to the table with a Reformed worldview which pervades the book [I might add that the writer rejects the Reformed emphasis on the Covenant of works]. Third, this book forces the reader to deal with matters of the heart. Forth, this book is radically God-centered. Every subject discussed comes back to the issue of the Lordship of Jesus and whether or not the reader is finding his complete satisfaction in Him.

Piper has written a tremendous book. He has the heart of a pastor and the mind of a theologian, a combination difficult to find in twenty-first century pastors. Desiring God is a passionate book. The contents will not only bring the reader to tears, but will engage his thinking in ways beyond the scope of his imagination. Desiring God is a practical book. It challenges readers to re-examine cherished presuppositions and think biblically about crucial life issues.

- One of the most important books written in the last 100 years!

Profile Image for Adam Nelson.
Author 3 books36 followers
April 22, 2011
This one got to me, and I sort of expected it to. I had high expectations, actually, because Piper has developed a strong reputation as sort of a C.S. Lewis in a post-modern society. That's not to say HE'S post-modern--far from it--I'm just using that term to indicate how relevant he is. And there could not be a more accurate title for this book. It really is about what it means and sometimes what it TAKES to desire God. While this is a discussion of Christian Hedonism--a term I think Piper can be given at least partial credit for coining--it never once descends to the more common mentality in Christian writing that we can so easily "forget our troubles, come on, be happy" or, God forbid, "pack up our gloomies in a great big box and sit on the lid and laugh." No, Piper gets into the hard stuff, like is it possible for us to be at the lowest point of our suffering and still enjoy God with a radiant countenance? What is worship all about? Does God even need it, or is it a tool for US to enjoy HIM more? That one REALLY spoke to me because I too often worship with a heavy heart, never realizing how hypocritical that is. Piper cites from Jonathan Edwards a lot and seems to owe his entire ministry to him, and another of the book's marvelous achievements is to destigmatize the author of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by discussing the author's MUCH more numerous works on heaven and enjoying God. Edwards is more relevant today than ever, and I think every human being, if not every Christian, should at least give his discussion of God's will of command and will of decree a glance. This book affected me deeply and I recommend it for every Christian, although it's not an easy read. Piper seeks to engage your mind because that's where the battle is REALLY fought. You have to take your time with this. It's not chocolate and candy all the time. Sometimes it's broccoli and carrots--it doesn't go down easy, but it's really, really good for you.
Profile Image for Jaison Abraham.
26 reviews2 followers
May 5, 2015
Before reading this book, I had become a Christian, but I was still working through this terrible thinking I had that the Christian life was supposed to be boring because what's right is always less fun than what's wrong. This is the first place I encountered the thought that the Christian life was about joy, the greatest joy that a person could have. That's a transformational thought, and for anyone who needs to hear it, this book is for you. It is dense and long, but I would say it is worth the read.
Profile Image for Alexis Neal.
463 reviews55 followers
September 30, 2011
I like Piper's overall point, but I'm not sure this book needed to be quite so long. Granted, I was already in agreement with Piper (after all, as Joey Tribbiani once said, there is no such thing as a truly selfless act--the only reason people do anything is, on some level, because they see it as somehow being in their own self interest) and thus was not a tough sell, but it still seems like Piper could have made his point in fewer than 300 pages (plus another 150 pages of appendices).

Still, I appreciate his encouragement to enjoy God. So many Christians obey merely out of duty, and while I think God is still glorified when we choose to obey Him in the absence of an emotional desire to do so, I don't doubt that we should seek to obey with joy. As Piper notes, the relationship between Christ and the church is pictured by human marriage, and no spouse wants to be loved only out of obligation. There will certainly be times when duty is what drives us, but if it is all that drives us, the marriage will hardly be the vibrant picture of sacrificial love that it was intended to be.

Piper does his best to address the criticism that have been offered since he first started his platform of Christian Hedonism--that is, that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (a slight tweaking of the Westminster Catechism), and that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. I don't think Piper's wrong in his choice of label, nor do I think the idea itself is theologically questionable. However, I do see the potential for abuse. Piper certainly does not mean to encourage human-centered theology, or to make emotions and pleasure into gods, but I can definitely see how a philosophy of Christian Hedonism could be vulnerable to a general tendency to drift in that direction. In other words, he's not wrong, but Christian Hedonists will need to be very careful to keep God's glory--as opposed to man's pleasure--at the center of their beliefs.

All in all, it's a decent enough book, and encouraging for those of us with a tendency to prioritize obedience over emotion.
Profile Image for Joseph.
93 reviews
June 27, 2021

Worth the read. If you are skeptical because of things you’ve read or heard about this book, I’d recommend skipping straight to the Epilogue where Piper lays out his responses to common objections to Christian Hedonism. He also has an Appendix on why he landed on the term and sub-title for the book, which has a shock value for a reason. My favorite chapter was the one on Worship. At certain points in the book I was confused whether the joy is something we experience now or if it’s just something we look forward to as a reward. He is saying both, but at times he was only saying one or the other. Summary of the book, from a quote at the end:

“Does Christian Hedonism put man’s pleasure above God’s glory? No. It puts man’s pleasure in God’s glory. Our quest is not merely joy. It is joy in God. And there is no way for a creature to consciously manifest the incite worth and beauty of God without delighting in him. 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... if we want our quest to honor God, we must pursue him for the joy in fellowship with him.”
Profile Image for Annie Monson.
157 reviews12 followers
August 24, 2020
(4.5) An expository, thorough, and perspective-shaping explanation of the Christian’s most foundational Q&A:

Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

In short, “Desiring God” is a defense of delight, the textbook for joy.
Profile Image for Clifford Luebben.
124 reviews1 follower
November 28, 2019
Desiring God has been one of the more influential books among American Evangelicals the past couple decades. I kind of knew it as the book that made my fellow Baptist friends Calvinist in their soteriology (either this book or Mark Driscoll, haha). Convincing people of Calvinism is not actually the point of the book, but that being my main association with the book and having been raised Calvinist by my father, I've never felt much need to read the book. However, a year or so ago I became convicted by the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:21-23 "21 For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am torn between the two. I long to depart and be with Christ—which is far better—". I knew that I did not desire Christ near so much, but I knew that I wanted to and should desire Christ that much. I had already acquired a copy of Desiring God. Since the book seemed to directly speak to the issue which the Spirit was convicting me on, I thought it time to finally read Pastor John Piper's magnum opus.

Desiring God is not a quick read. It is dense and heady. It is dense because Piper is thorough. And though it is heady it is quite clearly articulated. His writing is also quite beautiful. Piper's style is clearly influenced by all those 18th century Puritans he loves to read. He makes his case for so called "Christian Hedonism" so passionately, clearly, beautifully, thoroughly, and strongly, it is easy to see why Desiring God has become a passionate favorite of so many believers. I would recommend the book to anyone who struggles with their faith being emotionally & spiritually dry or dreary and/or anyone that is curious to key works influencing the reformed resurgence in early 21st century America.
Profile Image for Karen.
63 reviews9 followers
February 8, 2021
A thorough, Biblically-based explanation for why the chief end of man if to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever. In addition, I appreciated several sections on how to respond when we don't feel the full sense of enjoyment and satisfaction in Christ that the Bible commands.

"Even in the miserable guilt we feel over our beast-like insensitivity, the Glory of God shines. If God were not gloriously desirable, why would we feel sorrowful for not feasting fully on His beauty"

1) confess the sin of joylessness, 2) pray earnestly that God would restore joy of obedience, 3) go ahead and do the duty in the hope that doing so will rekindle the delight.

"if life were a steady ascent with no dips in our affection for God, we wouldn't need to be revived" (as mentioned in many Psalms including 19 and 23)

Three stages of movement toward ideal worship: 1) full enjoyment and satisfaction in God, 2) longing and desire - we preach to ourselves not to be downcast, 3) scarcely feel any longing but repentant sorrow for having so little love - this is "where all genuine worship starts and where it often returns for a dark season" - "God is pleased with all three stages on the way to full joy in Him"
Profile Image for Lindsay Tucker.
129 reviews5 followers
February 7, 2021
Paradigm-shifting book that has me rethinking what it means to pursue joy, deny self, and find delight in Christ. John Piper never fails to show how the Christian faith transforms both our minds and our hearts to seek God’s glory and find true satisfaction in Him. The opening chapters on worship and love, particularly about Jesus as our treasure and Someone to be delighted in (rather than merely followed out of duty), were the most impactful to me. There’s a lot more that I could say, but this is a book I will definitely be returning to and thinking on!
Profile Image for Alex Shepard.
63 reviews1 follower
November 27, 2021
I’ve been listening to John Piper for a while now, and I have heard “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him” countless times. This book is essentially explaining that phrase. Piper argues that the chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever. He begins by providing the biblical foundation for this, then applies it to various areas of the Christian life. This book could change your life by pointing you to God Himself as your Treasure.

“The tragedy of the world is that the echo is mistaken for the Original Shout.”
Profile Image for Lydia Wood.
11 reviews1 follower
February 8, 2023
Took me a while to get through, but that was partly on me. Honestly a total mindset shift for me; viewing the Christian life as an opportunity to partake of the joy found in God-centered satisfaction. This is not a stoic duty, but a glorious, hedonistic chance to find more pleasure and fulfillment than we’ve ever encountered on earth.
ALSO a great “basics of the faith” book for new believers up to the reading task.
Profile Image for Cole Ragsdale.
88 reviews28 followers
June 25, 2022
I felt that this was on the “must read” shelf for me so glad to have worked through it!!

I find Piper’s thesis, “glorifying God BY enjoying Him forever”, refreshing and helpful.

To see God as the ultimate treasure/the ultimate source of joy keeps us from religious games of performance and ultimate hypocrisy. Instead, it grounds us in the goal/aim of christianity: we get God.

He is not a means to an end. Contentment/Satisfaction/Joy in Him.

I never agree with everything Piper says but his allegiance is certainly not to the affluent, western Church and I appreciate the biblical fidelity throughout.

April 1, 2022
Although it sometimes felt like the book was straining too hard just to persuade me of the premise, Piper’s exploration of how his idea spills into life - practically and personally - is exceptional, especially in the later chapters.
Chapters on prayer, money and mission were particularly good.
Would really recommend, just takes a bit of work to push through certain sections.
Profile Image for Grant Thinesen.
2 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2022
Challenging, convicting, and teaching. Despite what initial conclusions one may draw from the term “Christian hedonism” (the basis for Piper’s writing), it is far from a comfortable read.
Profile Image for Jacob O'connor.
1,407 reviews18 followers
November 30, 2018
Didn't I tell ya I'd read this every year?


(1) Downpour

(2) Sorrowful yet always rejoicing

(3) Breaking the power of sin: gain a distaste for it by a greater satisfaction in God

(4) The chief end of man is to glorify by BY enjoying Him forever

(5) The law of the human heart is to seek happiness

(6) God is the end of our search for pleasure, not the means to some other pleasure

(7) Christian hedonism is a philosophy of life built on the following 5 presuppositions: (1) The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good (2) we should not try to deny or resist this (3) the deepest happiness is found in God (4) share s- with others (5) pursuit of pleasure is necessary

(8) God is happy because He is sovereign

(9) How do you glorify God? Praise.

(10) We praise what we enjoy because the delight is not complete until we express it.

(11) What does it mean to glorify God? It means to acknowledge his Glory. To value it above all things and to make it known. Implies trust.

(12) Worship is the feast of Christian hedonism

(13) Fact - faith - feeling

(14) the intrinsic nature of religious affections. This is not something that can be manufactured.

(15) We cannot honor God if our heart is far from Him

(16) Worship is reflecting back to God the radiance of His worth

(17) Desiring to desire counts. "The sorrow we feel when our hearts are lukewarm".

(18) Sorrow cannot be induced by human effort.

(19) Love is the overflow of joy in God

(20) A dissatisfied contentment, constantly looking for more of God

(21) Piper's explanation of "ask anything in my name" (7/17:43:20). We are on a mission. They have been sent to bear fruit. Prayer is to accomplish this mission. so long as we are on mission, God will give us fruit.

(22) Self denial is about giving up one good for a greater good

(23) Piper admits that if Jesus is not raised, then this current life would be easier if we didn't leave as if he were (11/17:6). Based on Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, "if in this life we have hope only..." Personal note: This is significant because there are many temporary joys that appear more fulfilling in the moment.

(24) The joy of sacrifice are grounded in the future hope. No future hope, no joy of sacrifice.

(25) Boasting says I deserve admiration because I've achieved so much. Self pity says I deserve admiration because I've sacrificed so much. Unnapplauded pride.

(26) The battle is primarily to see God as He really is.

(27) Glorifying God in your body means eating healthy and getting enough sleep. When you don't, you don't feel like glorifying God
As I was reading Desiring God by John Piper, I couldn’t wait to get back to it. Piper put his finger on the C.S. Lewis "desire" so well, that reading became euphoric. I'm meditating on Christ as Piper coaches, and the pleasure is so intense that it's transformational. I've never thought about God in these terms, but I'll never think about Him the same again.


--Christianity is seeking pleasure

--"Christian hedonism"

--God is the source of pleasure.

--God is in control. He is happy

--We glorify God by enjoying him

--the basis for God's happiness is His sovereignty

--Receiving Christ as our Lord and "treasure"

--Plan to pray

--Don't desire to be rich

--Is outreach failing due to lack of martyrs?

--Tit for Tat. If a non-believer asks for a justification of the Christian worldview, he should be prepared to provide one for his own. Otherwise there is an assumption that his is the secure one

--Christian Hedonism does not make pleasure a god but it asserts that we've already made a God out of our highest pleasure
Profile Image for Autumn Slaght.
Author 3 books32 followers
September 27, 2021
I could not bring myself to finish this one, guys. I tried, but I could not.
I hit a brick wall from the very first chapter and continued to hit brick walls until I could no longer read. Why? Not because the writing style is bad but because the teaching is incorrect and should be read with cautious eyes or not read at all.
Let me start with chapter one. I don't even know how to put it into words, but the entire chapter focused on "God's happiness in Himself." The basic gist is this. God is happy with Himself and enjoying Him-self (Not Himself, but Him-self if you get my English grammar drift) therefore we can approach Him because who would want to approach a dismay, joyless God? Okay. Am I saying that God IS joyless and dismal and has n0 delight? No, I absolutely am not saying that. But I could not help but get the feeling as I read the chapter that God was painted out to be a pleasure-seeking, self centered being. When the author brought up this question, I felt that he gave a very weak argument. It was basically saying:
"Is God self centered to demand our glorifying Him."
"No He is not and here's why: God is not self centered to demand our glorifying Him. Next point."
I felt like I was reading in circles and I even had my mother read it to make sure I was interpreting it right. The first chapter basically said God's main focus was on HIS GLORY. Even though the author denied it, he made God out to sound like a very arrogant, "You WILL give me glory!!!!" Kind of God. Are we commanded to worship and glorify God? Of course we are! But our relationship with Him goes a little bit beyond that. While glorifying Him in everything we do, we are also to work for Him, love Him, etc.
Okay that was chapter one. Are you sure you want to read the rest?
Chapter two began with a phrase that should have made me put the book down. On page 55, the author states:
"And might not many slumbering hearts be stabbed broad awake by the word 'Unless a man be born again INTO A CHRISTIAN HEDONIST, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'"
Born again into Christian Hedonism? What? Where is that found in the Bible? John 3:3 is where Jesus says to Nicodemus that a man must be born again to see the kingdom of God. Right underneath it in verse 5, Jesus states "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Born of water (our birth from the womb) and the Spirit (God's Holy Spirit.) Hedonism has nothing to do with that. Absolutely nothing.
I will admit that chapter 3 was fairly good. It spoke of the awe that we have lost in our Creator and how important it is to find that silent awe in Him. I agree with this, as it is the main point of my new novel in the process of writing. But let's move on to the next chapter. Love. I agree also that love is more than action, some feelings are involved. I believe that love consists of both. However, love is not just about feelings. If it were, everlasting love would not exist. At least among us humans.
Page 116 states: "One thing is for sure: Love cannot be equated with sacrificial action! It cannot be equated with ANY action!"
So Jesus sacrificial act on the cross...wasn't an act of love? If love cannot be equated with any sacrificial action, then why did Jesus die?
I will say no more on this and leave it there.
Chapter 5 begins with a quote by George Muller (my computer does not do the two dots above the "u" sorry) which states "The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord, but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished."
Inner man, eh? Can you say "Ooommm" with me, anyone?
Chapter 5 did emphasize the importance of Scripture and how important it is to meditate on it, drench your life in it and how it really is the key to joy in Christ. Again, I agree. But should we meditate on Scripture only for the purpose of "getting our soul into a happy state" or "how our inner man can be nourished?" Scripture does many things for us. It teaches us about God, about ourselves, about how to live life around us, and yes, reading Scripture will satisfy your inner desires. But the sole purpose of reading Scripture should not be self-motivated, but God motivated.
Finally, chapter six. The chapter is titled "prayer" but really, it should be titled "service." And the basic message of this chapter? Well, let's just start with a paragraph heading on page 168.
"Glorifying God not by serving Him, but by being served by Him."
Basically, come to God for what He can give to you, not what you should give to Him. Should we take our needs to God and trust Him to fulfill them? Absolutely! But that does NOT exclude that we are to serve Him!
Look at the Apostle Paul, himself, who wrote half of the new testament. "Paul, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ..." (Romans 1:1) And James, "James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ." (James 1:1.) Or take, for example, the teaching of Jesus Himself in Matthew 25:34-40. Does this passage not ring of servitude? How about 1 Samuel 12:24: "Only fear the Lord and SERVE Him in truth with all your heart, for consider what great things he has done for you." (Emphasis added.)
To close this mile long rant/review, I believe the very title of this book should be changed from "Desiring God, Meditations of a Christian Hedonist" to "Meditations of a Christian Hedonist."
I will make one thing clear. Do I believe it's wrong to desire and pursue joy? Absolutely not, so long as you do not sin in your pursuit. Do I believe it's wrong to pursue these things in God? Again, no, for this is the only true way to find this joy. But am I a Christian Hedonist? Absolutely not. Many may unfriend me for this, but it's okay. The main problem I see with Christian Hedonism is that it puts the pursuit of pleasure and joy above everything else in God. Your relationship with God becomes more of a "get joy" relationship rather than a reverent fear and obedience to God.
I'll close with this thought. God is sovereign and He is well deserving of our obedience and delight in Him. Whether or not joy in Him is involved. Thank God He includes this, but regardless, He is GOD. If joy were not attached to serving or worshiping Him, would you still do it? or would you do it simply because He is God and worthy of it? That is why I am not a Christian Hedonist.
Profile Image for Chris Comis.
366 reviews13 followers
February 13, 2009
This is one of the most gnostic treatments of so-called Christian Hedonism that I have ever read. Throughout the book you will be hard pressed to find much of anything on enjoying God through the physical pleasures He has given us to enjoy. Nothing on enjoying good beer. Good food. Good sex in marriage. You end up at the end of the book trying to turn to your own little heart to find your pleasure in God. Read Doug Jones' article in C/A called Wine, Women, and Sabbath if you want a more biblical approach to hedonism.
Profile Image for Bob.
15 reviews
January 9, 2017
Great! Showed some good correlation between how God really feels about us, what He expects from us, and how the world has twisted our priorities as Christians.
Profile Image for David.
21 reviews
April 5, 2022
It is the most incredible book I have ever read. Christian Hedonism brings so much joy to my soul for the Lord and a longing to give Him more praise and glory. I am so thankful for this book.
Profile Image for Kiya.
24 reviews
January 18, 2022
There's no doubt that this book has done a massive work in the Church, especially the American Church. Piper's careful argument that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him" has had huge implications on the direction of theology, worship, and practice, and for good reason. This book has been a rudder for the Church, shifting Christians toward pursuing genuine love and joy in God rather than cold duty, and that's a wonderful thing.

Piper's arguments, especially in the first few chapters, are thorough and clear, with careful dependence on Scripture and a clear devotion for God. He draws on church history and quotes many teachers and theologians, and every chapter has a quotable line or several. This really is a cornerstone book for the development of the modern church, with points that cannot be ignored.

I only have two concerns that make this book not as effective as it might be. In my opinion, this book could have ended after Chapter 6. Chapters 7-9 feel like separate arguments, more about Piper's own concerns than material that is directly related to the main premise of the book. In these chapters, Piper presents as theological fact what seems to me like debatable opinions: strict complementarianism, with the husband having "supremacy" over the wife; a clear disgust for TV and other media; a firm rebuke for Christians looking to retire or own a second home; etc. While the first parts of the book felt like a revelation, these chapters brought the entire book back into the realm of one man's personal opinions.

While I understand and appreciate his points made in Chapter 8, even this chapter felt like entirely separate material from the first few chapters, which may be why Piper went on to develop it into its own book, Let the Nations Be Glad.

Overall, this book presents ideas that, at the time, were so new and fresh and essential that they changed the Church. I only wish it could have been more carefully edited so that it remained a pure call into a new theological era rather than becoming Piper's personal manifesto.
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