Thursday, December 04, 2008

And Speaking of John Piper...

Here is a recent transcript of a short talk he gave at ETS where he basically outlined, in 7 thesis, what he has spent the last 25 years of his life saying.

It was the spring board for a time of Q&A, which, if the audio does surface, I will try to post here.

But here is what Mr. Piper had to say.

Feel free to discuss.


Joel said...

You said discuss, so here I am...getting you to discuss.

Greg - what are your thoughts on piper's "Christian Hedonism"? It shows in those theses mainly in #6 and 7.

I think Piper states clearly that "Christian Hedonism" is his main purpose in life - to get that message out. While I don't necessarily disagree with it, I'm not sure it's complete, and I'm not sure it's 100% right. Your thoughts?


Greg said...

I'm curious as to what you think might be missing.

I think if we take what he means by it at it's bare base it is difficult to argue with.

Our chief end and God's chief end are the same. To glorify and enjoy God forever. If I understand him correctly, Christian Hedonism is simply making those two things into one - that to glorify God IS to enjoy Him.

So, as Christians, we ought to be seeking our highest possible joy - which, as it stands, has nothing to do with us. Our highest joy comes from exalting Christ - because that is God's highest joy.

I think it's just another way to help us put our perspective in the Christian life squarely where it ought to be. The language may be a bit misleading to the world, and perhaps people could easily twist it to mean something it does not mean, but at base it takes our eyes off of ourselves and our own desires and puts them on God and what He desires for us - which is our greatest possible joy - which is Him.

Piper is in no way promoting "do what you want" Christianity. It is purely understanding that pursuing God and what God wants is the only way to be truly satisfied and enjoy your own life, and so - be as satisfied as you can possibly be, enjoy it as much as possible - by pursuing God as much as you possibly can.

That's how I understand it.
Tell me what you don't like about it - you don't have to necessarily interact with what I have written above.

Thanks for writing!

Joel said...

I'm still thinking through it, and the theses definitely helped my thought process and eased what little concern I had, but I guess my "beef" comes in how he adjusted WSC #1: "Man's chief end is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever." You hinted at the possibility of people twisting what he's saying, and maybe that's what I'm wary of. It seems like people could take what he's saying, and think during a tough time "hmm, I'm not 'enjoying God' right now because I'm not happy or whatever."

Also, aren't there other ways to glorify God outside of the perspective of our joy? God's glory is not dependent on my joy. It would seem like that's kind of narrow, and still hints at human centeredness - i.e. can't God be glorified even when we aren't joyful? (even the rocks would cry out...). I do understand the implications of sinning by not being joyful in all things, and appreciate his ministry in calling people to radical joy, but I just think there's more.

Am I making sense? Am I taking crazy pills? Am I way off in interpreting Piper? Am I reading too much into it?

Greg said...

I think you are right - he is calling us to a radical joy - but its not our joy - not immediately... it's God's joy - regardless of how we 'feel'.

It's not about seeking my joy - it's about seeking God's joy, which ultimately will be my joy - but not because of anything to do with how I feel about it...

It's quite simple, but very easy to twist - so wary is good, but there really isn't anything wrong with it. It does not deny suffering or struggle - it's only about putting God's ends before ours, and putting aside self in all its forms.

It's extremely broad, and so it can be applied in a myriad of ways and can be taken as deeply or as shallowly as you like - which also adds to its ability to twist...

John Piper is not right about everything, but as an overarching theme and perspective, properly understood, this is pretty good stuff.

Alex said...

Hi Greg, I discovered your blog today and got to reading. Hope things are well. Now to continue the discussion:

“It's quite simple, but very easy to twist - so wary is good, but there really isn't anything wrong with it. It does not deny suffering or struggle - it's only about putting God's ends before ours, and putting aside self in all its forms.”

This seems to be a radically different view of the Christian faith, than the one I held as a member of the church. I guess, I always interpreted heaven, the ultimate goal and reason behind Christianity, as a place where our selves go to live with God forever… kinda like earth, but more shiny and less bad stuff going on. Clearly, I was WAY off! The faith is much more about submitting to God’s will, Thy will be done, not my will. This is the heart of joy, in fact this is joy. It’s not about making it through this life so we can finally rest in glory in heaven. When we submit to the Will of the Creator we can see that place we have always longed for even NOW. I’m pretty sure the self you speak of isn’t going to Heaven, we cant take anything with us so lets let go now and bask in the glory right now by submitting to the Will.

A couple things I’m still unsure of and can maybe throw in the discussion. I’m not sure it is possible to “put aside the self in all its forms” in this lifetime. As long as we have a body and a mind we will have some form of self, right? I don’t think this is a bad thing because God has put us on this planet for a reason; God has given each of us a body and a mind to more thoroughly enjoy Him. We each have a design and a purpose, a true self given to us by God, so perhaps we should be letting go of the not self, the “sinful”, unbalanced desire to be God in this physical world. When we do that, through the redeeming work of Christ who has made us heirs to the kingdom, adopted in perfect love, we can embrace our true selves, that made-perfect child of God, through faith of course. That way we can live in accordance with God’s Will while we are still on this earth. If we were trying to put aside the self in all forms while here we could never actually submit to God’s Will, which is being played out even now. In Love. Alex.

Greg said...

Great to hear from you. This sounds like you are in a very different place than the last time we talked. Maybe you could write me on facebook or something and let me know where you are spiritually these days.
(You could do it here, but perhaps you don't want the world reading it... not that very many people read this blog... but you get it....) Anyway, I'd love to catch up to speed.

But back to your comments:

First, I should have been more clear on what I meant by 'self' I suppose. I did not mean identity or person, but was focusing more on what Paul calls the 'old self' - or maybe even more specifically 'selfishness', and focus ON the self. I agree that we can never be rid of that in this life fully because of sin - but we are still to strive for it. Not because we need it for salvation - Christ has achieved perfection for us - but out of gratitude for that.

And I agree THAT self (described above) will not be going with us to heaven. But I still believe in the bodily resurrection, where that old self has been purged out, but where I will certainly maintain an identity, and be a person, even while united to all others in Christ spiritually.

"When we submit to the Will of the Creator we can see that place we have always longed for even NOW."
I can agree with that statement as well, with only a couple minor perfections... I would say we can see 'part' of that place we have longed for - no less real - but yet veiled, "in a mirror darkly" as Peter puts it. A taste of the real thing... I believe we do get to glimpse that... we glimpse that in worship, public and private - we glimpse that when we are obedient sometimes, when we are submitting the God's will, even when it crushes us... We see it when we are actively being Jesus Christ in the lives of others and sacrificially giving of ourselves... yes, we can see it now. But still only a shadow... not because its not real, or not great - but because it will completely pale in comparison to the better reality that is coming.

Your second paragraph, as I understand it, is all very good, and brings me joy to see you write much of it.

Looking forward to hearing more from you, man. I hope you are well also.