Desiring God, By John Piper
TOWARD A DEFINITION OF CHRISTIAN HEDONISM
Fresh ways of looking at the world (even when they are centuries old) do not lend themselves to simple definitions. A whole book is needed so people can begin to catch on.
Quick and superficial judgments will almost certainly be wrong. Beware of conjecture about what lies in the pages of this book! The surmise that here we have another spin-off from modern man’s enslavement to the centrality of himself will be very wide of the mark. Ah, what surprises lie ahead!
For many, the term Christian Hedonism will be new. Therefore, I have included the appendix: “Why Call It Christian Hedonism?” If this is a strange or troubling term, you may want to read those pages before plunging into the main chapters.
I would prefer to reserve a definition of Christian Hedonism until the end of the book, when misunderstandings would have been swept away.
A writer often wishes his first sentence could be read in light of his last—and vice versa! But, alas, one must begin somewhere.
So I offer the following advance definition in hope that it will be interpreted sympathetically in light of the rest of the book.
Christian Hedonism is a philosophy of life built on the following five convictions:
1 The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful.
2 We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead, 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 only in God. Not from God, but in God.
4 The happiness we find in God reaches its consummation when it is shared with others in the manifold ways of love.
5 To the extent that 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. That is: The chief end of man is to glorify God.
This book will be predominantly a meditation on Scripture. It will be expository rather than speculative.
If I cannot show that Christian Hedonism comes from the Bible, I do not expect anyone to be interested, let alone persuaded.
There are a thousand man-made philosophies of life. If this is another, let it pass. There is only one rock: the Word of God.
Only one thing ultimately matters: glorifying God the way He has appointed. That is why I am a Christian Hedonist. That is why I wrote this book.