I have a lot of respect for John Piper and his lifelong work of exalting the glory of God, and I have been challenged and encouraged by a lot of his writings and sermons. Yet when I hear him or read him, something just doesn’t “click” for me, and I find myself not fully identifying with his Christian hedonism. Maybe because in his teachings there is too heavy an emphasis on individualism that I am reticent to embrace, or there is a latent emphasis on law and imperatives mixing with the gospel, or that I find it most edifying and God-honoring to glorify and enjoy God without focusing on my efforts to glorify and enjoy him. On this last point, it’s like telling someone not to think about a pink giraffe. What are they going to think about? It’s not going to be a green monkey. Likewise, focusing on my own subjective delight in God too much, or constantly asking myself if I am enjoying God enough, or worrying if I’m wasting my life takes away from my actual delight in God.
D.G. Hart’s recent post on Piper, Jonathan Edwards, piety, and introspection encapsulated and articulated much of my reluctance to fully embrace Piper. Check out the post here: Desiring God Enough? I also found many of the thoughtful and respectful comments helpful for putting to words much of my own thoughts. R. Scott Clark also posted briefly on his worry “about the long-term consequences of the influence of [Piper’s] theology, piety, and practice on the confessional Reformed churches.” Hart recently followed up his original post with an excellent quotation from Luther that speaks to these issues.
I’m with Hart and many of the commenters in being careful to not argue that all things subjective or introspective need to be eliminated. That wouldn’t be biblical. But I’m weary of overemphasis with such. I also heartily agree that Piper is doing lots of great things and bringing many into a beginning understanding of the glorious truths that come with a Reformed world and life view. I plan to read all of Piper’s Desiring God later this year, so I’ll be better able to wrestle with his teachings. I may or may not embrace Piper more afterward, but regardless, I’ll be thankful to have mingled with others in the hallways of mere Christianity and be ever more thankful to return to the warm, welcoming confessionally Reformed room.
Much further discussion can be found from the keyboard of Doug Wilson, which Hart probably would never link to: Christian hedonism; confession of sin.