Robert Stump's Reviews > Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist

Desiring God by John Piper
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's review
Feb 09, 2012

really liked it

John Piper's "Desiring God" reveals the solution to one of societies greatest hindrances--that is, that we are too easily pleased. In its initial statement this is the theme of the book. I have seen a number of other reviewers stating the the purpose of the book is to extol that we find our joy, our pleasure, in God, and while on the surface this is true, it is not in fact the point of the book. The point of the book is not to give an exposition of Christian Hedonism, but rather, Christian Hedonism is a tool, one well wielded by Piper, to point to this "stumbling block" in Scripture. The stumbling block is our pleasure in things unworthy of it, it is our apathy, our weakness, our self-love in place of, instead of through, our love for God.

Some will think I have over thought this, or over looked the obvious. One might say how very apparent it is that Piper means to tell us: do this. Delight yourself in the LORD! But we do not need John Piper for this. It is clearly, and plainly stated before us in His Word. What Piper says instead is, "God commands this, and you aren't doing it." It is through the means of a jolting term (Hedonism) and unflinching scholarship that he seeks to open our eyes to the truth that is plainly before us.

A number of other reviews have given complaint to Piper's Calvinism. Which I admit shows up in a number of places throughout the text, but I could find no fault in it. That is to say that if properly understood his arguments, whether we agree with them or not, do hold water. I personally do not agree in every pablum of theology as it is presented, but this does not keep me from enjoying the work and the passion that has gone into the life of the one who presents it. If one is only every willing to accept what is good from another that they agree with in totality on all points and in all minutiae then this book is not for him.

There is another class of people who may find little pleasure in this volume. If style in a written work is not important, or rather if the speed in which you can read a work is the measure by which you judge it, this book is not for you. Piper writes in a style that reflects the depth and breadth of his life of reading and of learning. He turns phrases that would please even as harsh a literary critic as Oscar Wilde in his prime. More than this Piper's style is suited to the work at hand, and to the references in that work. In its writing I would be surprised if every passage and sentence were not mulled over, examined, refined, and in the end put back polished or replace with new literary silver. Piper places his words next to those of giants who could ask him not to present his very best. It would be a great loss if he had not.

Let me end with two quotes, the first is a quote Piper pulls from C. S. Lewis' "Weight of Glory":

". . .Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

The second quote is from Coleridge. I offer it to rebut those reviews which make ignorant and erroneous claims against what they do not understand, like one who thinks Sophocles worthless because he doesn't read Greek:

"When we meet an apparent error in a good author, we are to presume ourselves ignorant of his understanding, until we are certain that we understand his ignorance."

If you are willingly to consider the first quote, and can abide patiently by the second, then nothing but good fruit can come from reading "Desiring God."

*This book was provided to me free of charge from the publisher, with the express intent that I would review it. I was not asked to offer a positive review, but only an honest one. This much I have done.

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