Three ways to live

Which is your way?

On John Piper and Christian Hedonism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 10:27 am on Sunday, November 25, 2007

John Piper is probably most famous for promoting so-called Christian Hedonism. In case you are wondering, a hedonist is one who lives a life devoted to finding and experiencing maximum pleasure or happiness. Sounds incompatible with Christianity, does it? Wrong, says John Piper.

Here is his logic, very simplified but hopefully still true to the original.

  1. There is nothing wrong with the desire for pleasure, but there are many wrong ways to go about achieving it.
  2. Since God is our creator, he intended that ultimately we achieve this desire by taking pleasure in Him
  3. God has created the world and us for His own glory
  4. These two things (God seeking his own glory and us seeking pleasure in God) must go hand-in-hand. We find the deepest pleasure – God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him

When I first heard these ideas, I readily accepted points 1 and 2, due to my familiarity with numerous C.S. Lewis notes on these, see my earlier post. But point 3 came to me as a big surprise. What? God is so selfish as to seek his own glory? If you have a similar issue, you might want to to take a look at a long list of scriptural references that supports this view.

If you are interested in learning more, read Pleasure of God, by John Piper, where all these ideas are presented in much greater detail. The first three chapters are also available as a free download here.



Comment by Huai Tze

November 26, 2007 @ 5:00 am

Thanks for summarising Christian Hedonism! Its useful.. However, I think one important omission in the summary is that the pleasure we seek in God is not just one of many pleasures (i.e. choose chocolate or choose God, both bring pleasure), but is the ultimate, truest and deepest possible satisfaction. As Lewis said, it is not that our desires are too strong, rather they are too weak. Can I suggest rewritting point 4 this way ?

4. When these two things (God seeking his own glory and us seeking pleasure in God) come together, we find the deepest pleasure – God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him


Comment by gummie

November 27, 2007 @ 12:13 am

There is a debate over God’s “self-centredness” here:

I think a missing element (which is a very basic point) is what do we really mean when we say that God is glorified.

It cannot mean that God becomes more than what he was previously (since by that definition, God will be less than perfect before he was glorified). However, it can and it should mean that the perfections are God are so perceived that it results in Him being more praised and appreciated. That is, if God’s aim is to show forth his perfections that results in praise, there is no incompatiblity of God’s God-centredness with his love for man since his love for man is simply a showing forth of one of God’s chief attributes – namely, love.


Comment by Vitali

November 27, 2007 @ 11:33 am

Piper gets flak for this quite often. And his answer is very similar to yours – God seeking his own glory does not mean he lacks it but that he wants us to see it more fully, which is for our benefit. Piper used an analogy of a telescope that brings the magnificence of planets and stars closer to us. When God glorifies himself, he makes his glory more apparent to us, which in turns results in our praise and ultimate pleasure.


Comment by All Things Bright and Beautiful....Creative Flair Chic

November 28, 2007 @ 9:33 am

I just think he likes bing loved & glorified – kinda like people – I mean we are made in His image & if it makes Him happy – more glory to Him I say!


Comment by The Hedonese

December 4, 2007 @ 11:48 pm

“Pleasure is the measure of our treasure” amen


Comment by Eduardo

December 22, 2007 @ 4:59 pm


I am new to your blog. Found it through my wife who loves your wife’s blogs. Anyway…I started reading yours today, and found this post very interesting.

I am a piper fan. I love his telescope example too. But what I think is the best way to understand God’s seeking His own glory is this: God is the infinite perfection. He is the most valuable treasure. How will He show us His love for us? Well the same way us, as parents will try to do for our own kids…give them what is best for them…So God gives us and shows us the most valuable treasure there is…Himself! God is self-centered because He is the most valuable treasure…Because He loves us…He brings us to Himself through Christ (1 Peter 3:18).

God bless!


Comment by Hannah

February 17, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

I just found your blog, and I like this summary a lot. What an interesting concept! Thanks for sharing.


Comment by John Calvin Hall

November 1, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

I would agree with this if our inherent sin nature had not corrupted our “compass” for happiness.

If you pursue after happiness rather than obedience to God’s Word, you will invariably find nothing more than destruction.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

If you want true and lasting joy, then obey God’s Word,

Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

John 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

Now, I have a choice. Either believe God’s Word or believe John Piper. Though the decision will not always bring me happiness, it will honor the One who dies for me.

Sorry JP, you lose.


Comment by John Calvin Hall

November 1, 2009 @ 11:51 pm

Addendum to Post 438

*… the One who DIED for me.

oops! { Aorist, not Present Tense!}


Comment by steve

December 31, 2010 @ 9:22 am

If you think God is self centered you do not know the Father, as seen in the Son, Christ Jesus. God is God, infinite, all knowing, all wise, all powerful, all sovereign..and suffered much, spilled every drop of his precious blood for each and every one of us… God shows his love in that whilst we were sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.
People who say he is unjust blaspheme his name. He IS JUST AND THE JUSTIFIER, who knew NO sin, but was made sin in order to make us the righteousness of God.

We are talking about a trice holy God!! You people need to study the attributes of God. Those who doubt, or question, who unbelieve, who pull him down, and not lift Him up.. do not know him.

The very one who is holy, righteous, and truth.. you cannot judge God with your finite mind, that cannot comprehend the vastness and magnificence of Him!

Look at cross and see God’s character and how just he is with sin, yet choses to pursue it, and take Gods wrath in order that we may be free. How can you comprehend this mystery of God?!?

John Piper has is so right… the fullness of joy is knowing joy… God is joy… its a gift of the spirit… knowing God , all that he is, and all that he has done, and all that he will do, brings such joy. But when we look upon the cross, and see his sufferings, and that He spoke ‘It is finished’.. how wonderful!! Nothing can seperate us from the love of God, found in Christ Jesus.

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