Why I am no longer a Piperite

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Piper's Desiring God and its associated Christian Hedonism asserts that "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever". For many years, I agreed with Piper. Indeed, his book was instrumental to getting me to where I am today. But now I find his Christian Hedonism to be too weak. Piper makes some key insights but doesn't take them far enough. Instead he tries to combine those insights with a traditional model that can't bear their weight. These posts will explain why I disagree with Piper.

(For a primer on Piper's Christian Hedonism, read Jeremy's excellent post which summarizes Piper's view and contrasts it to other Hedonism frameworks.)

First off, regarding Jeremy's analysis, I have to agree that Piper is a psychological hedonist. He firmly believes that the pursuit of pleasure is our motivation for all our actions. But Jeremy is also correct in pointing out that Piper's Christian Hedonism is more than mere psychological hedonism--there is a strong ethical component to it. Furthermore, Jeremy's point that Piper's model centers around desire-fulfillment is correct.

Building on Jeremy's analysis, I assert that the ethical component of Piper's framework is that we are morally obligated to seek that which will most satisfy us. And that which will most satisfy is us God. This is no accident; God has designed it such that we are most satisfied in Him. So this is not ethical hedonism in which something is right because it brings us pleasure. Rather, the right things are designed to give us pleasure. Thus we should seek our greatest pleasure not for the sake of pleasure per se, but because the most pleasurable is also what is right. (I would say "because the most pleasurable happens to be what is right, but that is too coincidental. It doesn't just happen to be what is right, it is designed that way by God.)

Returning to Piper's thesis that "The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever", we should note that there are two halves to this thesis: the glory of God, and our enjoyment of Him. The two are tied together by the idea that "God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him" (see above). I now disagree with Piper on both halves of his thesis.

Glory of God

First of all, the "Glory of God" model. Piper believes that God's ultimate concern is His own glory. While that would be narcissistic in anyone else, it is only fitting for God. After all, He really is the greatest and most glorious being. If He were to be more concerned with someone or something else, then it would be idolatry on His part--he would be worshipping some lesser being.

The Glory of God model is the traditional model of the Reformed church. Piper's innovation is to say that we glorify God by enjoying Him forever, as opposed to the traditional statement whereby we glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Desiring God is Piper's attempt to make Christian Hedonism fit into a traditional framework.

Frankly, I don't think that the traditional Glory of God model is worth salvaging. While the Bible consistently talks about God being concerned for His own glory, I do not agree that His own glory is His ultimate concern. Rather I think that God's inter-Trinitarian love is His ultimate concern. That is to say that the Father's highest concern is to love the Son, and the Son's is to love the Father. Similarly so with the Spirit. Piper takes care to reject this idea using John 17:24-26. Piper states:

From these texts we learn that through all eternity God the Father has beheld the image of his own glory perfectly represented in the person of his Son. Therefore one of the best ways to think about God's infinite enjoyment of his own glory is to think of it as the delight he has in his Son who is the perfect reflection of that glory (See John 17:24-26)...As God the Father contemplates the image of his own glory in the person of his Son, he is infinitely happy." (Desiring God, pg 33)

Thus, according to Piper, God loves the Son because the Son reflects the Father's glory. However, this is in flat contradiction to the very verses he uses to make his point. John 17:24 says "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." The beloved disciple makes is clear that the Father glorifies the Son because He loves the Son, not the other way around as Piper asserts. Glory is a by-product of Love. (It is possible to glorify someone without loving them. But I assert that it is impossible to love someone with out glorifying them.)

Ultimately, the Glory of God model that Piper works with is not Trinitarian enough. It has the Father being ultimately concerned about the Father, making it too monarchial and quite possibly subordinationistic as well. Biblically, the Father is not most concerned with His own glory; He is most concerned with the Son and the Spirit. This is not idolatry for the Son and Spirit are no less deserving of worship and love than the Father. Indeed, it is the nature of love to be outward focused, and thus for the Father to be truly loving He must not be self-centered. A more Trinitarian framework allows for this, but Piper's framework does not.

Another issue I have with the Glory of God model is that it sees glory as an end in itself. But glory is not the content of God's greatness; it is the result of His greatness. God's righteousness and love (among other things) are what makes God great. His glory is the outward message of that greatness, but it is not the greatness itself.

Enjoying God

Next we come to the idea that we have a duty to enjoy God. Now I certainly agree that we should enjoy God and Piper is surly correct that God is the best way to satisfy our desires. However, the Bible is clear that loving God takes precedence over enjoying Him. (Incidentally, it is by our loving God that He is most glorified, not by our enjoying Him.) Piper takes pains to make clear that our enjoyment of God is what drives us. So I find it odd that he entitled his book "Desiring God" instead of "Enjoying God". Piper makes the (in my opinion) profound connection that joy is linked to desire. However, I think that he ultimately conflates joy and desire, hence the odd naming of his book. Here is how I think that our motivations work:

desire --> object of desire --> desire fulfilled

That is to say, we have a desire or love. That desire has an object. Then the desire is (sometimes) fulfilled. And the feeling that is produced when that desire is fulfilled is called joy. So using mode conventional terms, we get:

love --> object of love --> joy

Now Piper sees joy as our ultimate motivator. Or maybe he sees a desire for joy as our ultimate motivator. It is hard to say since he ends up conflating the two. He is able to do so by using the word "delight" which can mean "joy" when used in a sentence like "I am delighted by God", and can mean "love" when used in a sentence like "I take delight in God". The shift in meaning is easily missed, and I think that it is possible that Piper did not notice that he has conflated joy and love by using delight in two different manners. However, given how careful Piper is with his terms, I think it is more likely that Piper has deliberately conflated the two because he really believes that they are, in the end, the same.

At any rate, it is not really love nor joy that is real motivation, but the object of love which is our real motivation. We should not be focused on our joy per se, though we certainly find joy in God, for that joy is something internal within us. Nor should we be focused on our desire per se, though we certainly love God, for that desire is also something internal within us. Rather our focus must be on God Himself whom we do indeed love and in whom we find our joy. When the Bible talks about our love for God, it does not focus on our love, if focuses on God, whom we love. This is simply not in accord with Piper's Christian Hedonism.

There is a passage in Desiring God where Piper talks about taking his wife out to dinner. He says that his motivation is the pleasure he gets in making her happy. This is his hedonism on display--he is focused on the joy internal to him even as he does and outwardly focused action. This is not wrong in his view because God designed this good action to be pleasurable. And while I agree that the action is a good one, the focus (i.e. the motivation) is all wrong. His motivation should not be his own pleasure, or even his love (per se) for his wife, but rather his wife herself whom he loves.

Epilogue

Instead of calling myself a Christian Hedonist, as I used to, I now call my self an Affective Christian. Christian Hedonism was a very important stepping-stone to getting me to Affective Christianity because it awakened me to issues of motivation, love, and joy. Affective Christianity sounds like Christian Hedonism when it says things like "We are driven (motivated) by our affections (desires/values)". But more carefully stated, Affective Christianity is about recognizing that we are driven by what we value/love/desire; not the value/love/desire itself, but what we value/love/desire. So the two frameworks explore the same issues, but they do not share the same focus.

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29 Comments

I think you're right that Piper sees no or little difference among love, joy, delight, enjoyment, and desire. I also agree with your evaluation of the literal meaning of his statement about loving his wife. However, I'm not sure he means that statement the way you do. When he thinks he's doing something because he delights in how his wife is pleased by it, he probably isn't focusing on his own inner state. He's probably focusing on her state, but because of his psychological hedonism he thinks he can describe that in terms of delighting in her enjoyment of it. His actual attitude when taking his wife out may be what you would recommend. The problem might just be (and probably is) how he describes that in his official theory.

That's in fact the reason why his argument is fallacious. He starts with something true, but then he uses language wrongly to take those statement to tie with other things that are true, and if they're combined by confusing one thing with another, even though he's using the same words in both cases, the conclusion doesn't follow.

I'm worried about your criticism of his views on God's glory. I don't think what you're saying is wrong, but I'm not sure you've gone far enough. In particular, I wonder if you've responded to his reductionism by extending the reductionist account but not removing the reductionism. You've expanded God's motivations from God's glory to God's inner-Trinitarian love. But does God do nothing simply because God loves us? That's where I think Piper is most reductionistic, by explaining God's motivation in all the scriptural statements of God's love for us as really just God's seeking his own glory. If I'm understanding you correctly, God loves us merely because it's the best way to love himself in terms of each Trinitarian person loving the other Trinitarian persons. That seems just as reductionistic as Piper's view.

You've expanded God's motivations from God's glory to God's inner-Trinitarian love. But does God do nothing simply because God loves us?

Good point. I should have been more clear. I think that God does do certain things ultimately because He loves us. And of course, he does other things because of His inter-trinitarian love.

But I don't think that God does anything that is not ultimately motivated by His love. In contrast to Abednego, I think that God really is primarily love and that all He does stems from that. So I am being reductionistic in that way, but not as reductionistic as you had feared.

For me, one of Piper's chief insights is to question the common notion that because worshiping God is a duty, it doesn't matter how I feel. Real praise flows from genuine delight, although it is possible to begrudgingly offer praise (like when my football team is beaten by a superior team).

I don't know whether Piper would go so far as to say, "it is my duty / ethical obligation to pursue pleasure", but he sees it as how we were made - joy-seeking creatures. God made us
this way so that we would seek him. As I see it, the moral imperative in the NT is to
"love God", not to "seek joy", but it is liberating to know that the two are not incompatible.

Piper's belief that the glory of God is his preocupation is I think strongly linked
to his Calvinistic beliefs (which I share). We know that God wills all to be saved,
but not all are saved. Assuming that he is not impotent, there must be something he desires even more. For an Arminian this may be "he loves us so much he wants us to have freedom to choose", but for Piper it is something like "he wants to get glory for himself by showing his mercy and justice - saving some, punishing others".

As to whether we can rank God's being loving as more fundamental than his concern for his own glory, (or for that matter than any other attribute - holiness comes to mind), I'm not sure that I would be willing to do this. What we know of God is because of his self-revelation, not our own philosphical deductions. It seems a bit presumptuous to claim to know "God's chief end", even if Scripture gives us some clues. Who has known the mind of the Lord? (Rom 11:33-34)

Mark, I think your skeptical note about ranking God's motivations is all Wink and I have been insistent on. This sort of criticism about Piper is more a resistance to be sure of a ranking like that and less an insistence on a system of ranking. We both have thoughts on how that ranking might go, but I know I'd both be willing to recognize that I shouldn't insist on it the way Piper does his as if scripture simply teaches that ranking. I believe the same is true of Wink, at least about much of what he's saying positively.

I understand Piper's motivation, but it seems to me that he not only goes beyond scripture but seems to contradict it when he says God's love is always merely a way to bring glory to himself, as if his hesed is not fundamental to his character the way Exodus 34 declares that it is, as if it's simply one way among many to declare his glory. If he simply rejoices over us, plain and simple (Zeph 3:17), then it doesn't seem to be just about his glory. It's not rejoicing over us if it's simply rejoicing over the glory he gets when he does nice things for us. The scriptures seem to teach that God rejoices over us. That suggests to me that Piper is wrong to reduce God's love to being merely an outworking of God's appreciation for his own glory. His rejoicing over us seems to be the sort of thing that you shouldn't describe in such terms unless it's directed primarily simply at his enjoyment of our well-being, without reducing that to something further like God's glory that results from such things.

Jeremy,

I've always been a little unsure of what to think about Desiring God since first reading it nearly two decades ago. Certainly, the phrase "Christian hedonism" is a little provocative. Unnecessarily so, I've tended to think.

And yet, fundamentally, I think it is vital to enjoy a relationship with God.

I've met Piper once about 20 years ago. As I'm sure you're aware, he's the long-time pastor of well-known church here in downtown Minneapolis, Bethlehem Baptist. I still go back and forth on what I think of the book, but your comments about rankings may have put into words what I've been wrestling with.

Jeremy - your skeptical note about ranking God's motivations is all Wink and I have been insistent on.

For the purposes of this post, yes, that's all I'm insistent on. But in general, I actually am pretty reductionistic on God's motivation--I really do think that He is primarily love and that all of His actions flow from that. So I may be just as bad as Piper on that point. (But then again, I could be right about it too. ;)) However, exploring that topic probably deserves its own post.

Mark - It seems a bit presumptuous to claim to know "God's chief end", even if Scripture gives us some clues.

Maybe I should qualify and say "God's chief end insofar as He reveals it in scripture" and then trust that scripture gives both an accurate and representative account of what God is like and what His motivations are. But that seems a bit unnecessarily wordy. ;)

Jeff - I think it is vital to enjoy a relationship with God

Indeed. Piper's insistence on getting past cold duty was vital to getting me to where I am now. He was the first one to really get me to see the affective dimension of life. That said, it still doesn't mean I have to agree with his whole paradigm.

wink,

yes, meant to say too, excellent posts. Some good thinking going on there.

wink, I don't think you've established a Biblical framework for your super-trinitarian view.

And I think you begin to stray into Biblically unsafe territory pretty quickly when you say:

"Ultimately, the Glory of God model that Piper works with is not Trinitarian enough. It has the Father being ultimately concerned about the Father, making it too monarchial and quite possibly subordinationistic as well. Biblically, the Father is not most concerned with His own glory; He is most concerned with the Son and the Spirit."

Haven't you lost sight of 1 Cor 11:3 and others which clearly state there is a sub-ordination going on in the trinity. Christ in His function as Son of God does submit to the Father. The Father is pleased to call Him Son. I also think Is. 53 weighs in here concerning the monarchial role of the Father.

You don't establish at all your counter-thesis with any kind of Biblical framework and your dismissal of the glory of God framework is not a Biblically established one here either. Maybe I've missed previous arguments where you've done this and you can point me there - but at this point I can see nothing Biblically convincing.

If the Bible is our rule for understanding God, where are your Biblical arguments for your understanding of God?

I've read theses before that attempt to establish some kind of "God is all love and all that He does is a result of this" framework and none have been Biblically convincing.

Sorry if I sound arrogant... not my intention. My intention is to understand your framework - but not as mere philosophy.

There are two very different views that might be called subordinationism. One takes the Son to be ontologically inferior to the Father, and that was officially declared to be a heresy at some council in the early church. The other simply speaks of eternal submission chosen by the Son, and that's what I Cor 11:3 and I Cor 15:28 are getting at. I'll let him comment on what he meant, but that distinction at least needs to be made. When some people criticize subordinationism, it's the official heresy that they're talking about. Egalitarians conflate the two, but that doesn't mean there's no view called subordinationism that's a genuine heresy. I think some complementarians forget that.

Fully agree re the two possible views of subordination, but wasn't sure where wink was heading with it. The way he stated it made it seem as if he was almost denying that there are roles within the Godhead. I think there are clear distinctions between the way Father and Son relate to one another.

Having said that, I don't know that I'd fully take on board Piper's restatement of Edward's position on the trinity where they have the Holy Spirit basically as the expression of love between Father and Son (but so powerful and so complete as to exist as another person within the trinity). I think it becomes more philosophical than Biblical when they head in that direction also.

Erm, I meant I fully agree with you that there are two possible views. Not that I agree with both views (that'd be strange!)

kristan - Sorry about being unclear. Clearly the Bible indicates that the Son submits to the Father. I have no problem with this kind of subordination--there are definitely roles within the Trinity.

What worries me is the idea that the Son is inherently less glorious than the Father. Granted, Piper doesn't explicitly say that, but that is the danger of where Piper is going. (And that lack of explicitness is why I said "quite possibly subordinationistic" instead of an unqualified "subordinationistic".)

Also worrisome is the idea that the Son is merely a means to an end of the Father's glory. That would place the Son in an inherently lower status or nature than the Father and is thus both monarchial (in the heretical sense) as well as subordinationistic (also in the heretical sense).

Hope that clears things up.

You don't establish at all your counter-thesis with any kind of Biblical framework and your dismissal of the glory of God framework is not a Biblically established one here either.Maybe I've missed previous arguments where you've done this and you can point me there - but at this point I can see nothing Biblically convincing.

You're right, I haven't really done that yet, so you haven't missed it. I'll have to do that soon I guess. I skipped that for now as I know that there are at least a few who read this who read this who already agree with me and thus don't require the argument.

thanks wink... helps me a lot to understand your post better... i guess i should have read more of your blog before i commented...

I agree that the idea of the Son being just a means to an end of the Father's glory too is a wrong position to take.

I've just re-read my original comment. It really does come across as too glib and arrogant. Sorry about that too.

I'll stay tuned for extra posts on this when you do get the time.

Two things:

I think you've missed what Piper means by "loving God." It doesn't mean that we love Him like we love a homeless person by doing nice things for him. It means we enjoy Him like ice cream. You know that figure of speech we always use, "I looooove ice cream." Well, when we love God that way, that is the essence of what it means to 'love God.' This is laid out in the beginning of A Godward Life book 1 which I don't have around to quote right now. When we understand love as enjoyment and glorification there isn't the difference you try to point out when you say, "His motivation should not be his own pleasure, or even his love (per se) for his wife, but rather his wife herself whom he loves."

Second thing: I think your framework leaves out hell, wrath, justice, severity, and the consuming fire of God. Maybe I missed it.

TL, Wink didn't talk about hell, wrath, justice, severity, and the consuming fire of God. He also didn't talk about heaven, compassion, mercy, grace, and the transforming fire of God. The fact that he didn't talk about something doesn't mean he doesn't believe in it. If you can give an argument that he can't believe in it based on what he's said, then that would be a starting point for discussion. As it stands, you haven't explained why you think what he says rules that sort of thing out.

As for what Piper means when he speaks of loving God, I'm a little confused about what you're getting at. Piper does indeed see loving God as akin to loving ice cream, and I'm sure Wink is aware of this. That doesn't touch what he said, though. What he said is that love's motivation is the person being loved, not the feeling one gets when one gets what one enjoys. It's not like that when you love ice cream. With ice cream, you love the feeling you get when you eat it. If you loved ice cream the way you should love God, you wouldn't eat it but would rather want what's best for it and preserve it. Love for ice cream is exactly what Piper needs as an illustration to make love for God hedonistic in his sense. The problem is that this is exactly what we shouldn't do. We shouldn't love God the way we love ice cream. We should love God the way we love people and the way God loves us.

If God loved us the way we love ice cream, it would be dishonest to speak of God as doing things for us because they're best for us. We'd have to say that God does it only because it's best for God. Piper is honest enough to admit that he believes this, but it just seems so strongly against biblical teaching. Piper reduces love to enjoyment. That's wrong. So it's not that Wink misunderstands what Piper is saying. He knows what Pipewr says and is just disagreeing with it. He's also giving a reason why, which I hope I've explained more thoroughly.

TL - I think you've missed what Piper means by "loving God."...It means we enjoy Him like ice cream.

You apparently missed the part where I say "However, I think that he ultimately conflates joy and desire", because in saying so I am pointing out that Piper means "enjoying God" whenever he says "loving/desiring God".

Also, what Jeremy says above.

Interesting thoughts, so thank you for posting them.

I wanted to say as a side note that in our day we really have no idea what "glory" or its related term "honor" meant to people in the days of Jesus and earlier. The time of the Westminster assembly was a bit closer, though certainly much had changed culturally by then.

I'm referring to your first paragraph under "Glory of God". To say that God's ultimate concern is His own glory (and that such would be improper for us (perhaps this is from Piper? Been a while since I read it)) assumes that we know what "glory" means.

I have been working with the idea that glory should be taken as some thing like "the visible or demonstrated appearance of honor." I'm sure that could be tightened up a bit. For some good reading on that subject I cannot highly enough recommend Jerome Neyrey's book Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew. Also useful are Bruce Malina's works, with The New Testament World; Insights from Cultural Anthropology being a book starting point.

None of that is a criticism--just pointing out some areas where I've found I had a LOT to learn about the language of scripture.

Hmmm...I am late to the discussion, as usual.

A long time ago I abandoned Christian Hedonism. God is love. Everything He does is motivated by that nature of love.

As regenerated creations everything we do is motivated by our love for Him, our desire to reflect His glory.

Someone above posted that "love is affection." Perhaps a small component of love is affection, however, when I study what Jesus says over and over again about love being obedience, I am swayed that love is primarily not affection. That is the major hole in Piper's thesis. Well, that and that God is not really a hedonist at all.

Having just begun to study Piper's Desiring God with a friend, I too became unhappy with what I saw as the lack of a trinitarian dimension to his thesis. Does he later in the book develop it at all?

I'm sorry I don't have more time to formulate a response, but after quick reading of your post I'm not sure I understand how you think a Trinitarian-Love can be the ultimate goal of God.

Granted, Piper may de-emphasize the Trinity to a fault (though I haven't noticed this personally), but it seems to me that a basic understanding of the nature and character of God proves that Trinitarian-Love is not a goal, but an eternally existent reality.

God does not change, the Father's love for the Son does not increase, neither does the Son's obedience and submission to the Father. If it were possible for the members of the Trinity to improve in their roles it would also be possible for them to digress, and would prove that they were not perfect to begin with.

I would appreciate some clarification on your meaning in this regard.

Love is a attribute of God's glory. So to say that God's ultimate goal in all is trinitarian love is schwag. It is schwag because love is a attribute of glory. John Piper is the Man.

How about an argument rather than a mere assertion? Why should we reduce God's love to a mere aspect of his glory? I'd also like some evidence that this is Piper's view. What I've seen suggests that he sees God's love as a means to achieving more glory (or more accurately a means to having God's glory more recognized), not that God's love is an actual part of God's glory.

it looks like this discussion has been going on for some time! having just read a recent post on supererogatory actions and God, which led me to review this discussion.

i would be interested in wink and jeremy's response to what i think brett may have been hinting at. most of the texts regarding God's concern for His glory are Old Testament texts, speaking from before the revelation of the Trinity, and the mystery (Ephesians) which involves the glorification of men and women by virtue of the union with Christ. i have previously understood the Trinity as the outworkings of God's concern for His own glory. concerning trinitarian love, communicatio idiomatum is worth bringing up - if the Father is concerned for His own glory i can't see how that disturbs the Trinitarian function of His being (with respect to glory).

the analyis of wink's original post is very helpful, and i wonder if there is any official discussion from the DG end?


bruce

a few thoughts from andreas koestenberger concerning the glory of God and trinitarian love:

'For in it [God's incarnate glory] God revealed his redeeming love for humanity. God's glory and his love do not stand in tension; God's love rather is part of his glory, the primary missionary motive that, in turn, brings yet further glory to God.'

John's gospel repeatedly sees God being glorified by means of Jesus' glorification.

Wink's statement -

'it is the nature of love to be outward focused, and thus for the Father to be truly loving He must not be self-centered'

seems to address the godhead in ways that the doctrine of the trinity doesn't allow. to what extent is the Father's love outward if he loves the Son and Spirit? I doubt very much that John Piper sees God's seeking His own glory as the Father's seeking of glory apart from the Son and Spirit, yet the Father remains the 'font divinitus.' the definition of glory with respect to love appears to be crucial as per koestenberger.


bruce

I'm not going to defend Wink's particular positive account.

Kostenberger seems to have a different view from Piper's. Piper thinks God's love depends on God's glory. Kostenberger thinks it's part of God's glory. I think it's safe to say that God's glory is partly because of his love, but I don't think it itself is part of God's glory. He doesn't get the causal order wrong, as Piper does (by basing God's love on God's glory rather than the other way around), but I'm not sure I like his formulation either. I do think it's a step in the right direction, though, when compared to Piper's account.

I may have always been projecting this view onto Piper, but it was my sense that when speaking about God seeking the maximum glory for Himself it was in the terms of the Oneness and Unity of God. I never saw it as setting the persons at odds with one another. And 1 Cor 15:27-28 seems to suggest that same idea. (Notice Paul says, 'so that God may be all in all' - not that 'The Father may be all in all')

I really like what Wink brings out about love being God's motivation, but I too am concerned about taking one attribute of God and somehow making it more important or a higher percentage of His essence (as if God was filled with a certain amount of stuff: 40% love, 10% Justice, mercy, etc...) God's attributes are not descriptions of God, but they are who He is. God is love, He is also justice and wrath, goodness and truth. We can only use them descriptively because He is them. So to say that God is more love than justice or more mercy than truth is to set up a false dichotomy.

And God's glory is not one of His attributes, His glory is the white hot reflection of the sum total of who He is in His trinitarian essence.

I have been a Piperite for awhile (minus a few key points, as I am Presby), but I am certainly willing to shed that association if I have been wrong about his view. And it seems Wink is onto something, at the very least.

Looks like this thread has been quiet for awhile... but I thought I would just add that Wink's conclusion about being an "Affective Christian" is developed very, very clearly in Dr. James K. A. Smith's book "Desiring the Kingdom." I would highly recommend this book if you're interested in Wink's conclusion. I should note that Dr. Smith also writes from a Reformed perspective.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Wink. I found your Trinitarian misgivings with Piper's Christian Hedonism very helpful.

Here is my question: Why the desire to think of God from our point of view? From God's point of view, He doesn't need affirmation for who He is. It seems that that is what Christian Hedonism advocates. Making God "something" as a result of human's taking pleasure in Him.

Is that a fair assertion of how simple Piper's view really is?
I find that Piper seems more obsessed with finding pleasure in this world than is dealing with suffering. One could say he's trying to be optimistic, or I propose, is it possible Piper is trying to avoid...reality? avoid suffering?

Corrie Ten Boom's view of God is simply that God loves man. Period. No need to go "deeper" into seeking pleasure to do anything that makes God react.
Secondly, she suffered greatly and I don't think she ever took pleasure in any of the suffering, BUT she did see God work through those circumstances and good came from it, but I, who am NOT a Calvinist in any way, see that she suffered greatly and yet, still had faith in the Lord, but only because...she cried out to Him for help.
The Lord proved Himself faithful, in that He answered her cry to keep the faith, just like the disciples asked "teach us to pray" or "give me more faith".
I find Calvinism seeping through every pore of how Piper thinks, and Christian Hedonism to me seems like another "Calvin" popping up on the horizon of "big book authors" who attempt to view God from Man's viewpoint. Calvin tried to isolate God's ability to create humans with a free will, and thus removed free will with pre-destination.
Piper tries to isolate pain, by what I consider denial of the original curses consequences on life. I believe his view on "Christian Hedonism" is actually an attempt to create a false reality and thus a denial of life as it really occurs. Seems to deeply contradict Solomon's proverbs, and Pauls Epistles and the many suffering that we all will face.
I find Piper's view on "CH" to be...American is it's thinking based on sadly, a possible "rewriting" of Christian culture. I have not been overseas, but...this thought of "pleasure" in sufferings...doesn't exist. But the view of "seeing the prize before us" is what keeps Christians who are persecuted going in tough times, not "wow, how can I find pleasure in this".
I find Piper's view on life..somewhat...immature possibly? Not grounded in...reality of that life can be painful, and yet God good?
Any thoughts?

I don't think Piper would say to think of God as needing anything. But God does want what's best for us, which is to recognize what is truly good and love it, and that would mean loving God more than anything else and seeking others to do so as well.

Piper talks a lot about suffering. His main concern is to point out how God works good through it. Piper certainly is a Calvinist, so I'm not sure why you're surprised to find Calvinism influencing what he says. I have no complaint with Calvinism, and Wink doesn't either. We both insist that Calvinism is what the Bible teaches. The issue we take with Piper is more specific than that.

I do want to correct your mistaken view of what Calvin and Piper hold, however. Calvinists do believe that God predestines everything that happens, which is what the Bible teaches. Calvinists do not believe that we are not free. That's hyper-Calvinism. Calvinism has always insisted on compatibilism, namely that freedom is compatible with divine predestination. Our thinking process, our choices, our emotions, our desires, our beliefs are what lead to our actions. We are morally responsible for those things. So we are morally responsible for what we do. This is so even though God also stands behind all that we do in some sense. And that's something that you don't have to be a Calvinist to believe. Open theists, who think God doesn't know the future, might deny that. But anyone who holds to an orthodox view of divine sovereignty, according to which everything that happens is in some sense in God's plan, will affirm this. If God can predict what will happen and does not prevent it, even if God doesn't himself ensure that it will happen, then God better have a reason for allowing it. And Calvinism adds only that God ensures that the thing God has a reason for happens rather than just predicting it. But Calvinists do not insist that God makes evil things happen in the same way that God makes other things happen.

I don't understand what you're saying about contradicting the curse. Piper certainly believes in fallen humanity and a fallen world. He certainly believes that Christians will suffer in this life and that indeed we should expect suffering. That's the whole point of Christian hedonism, to find delight in God rather than in the things of the fallen world that can't satisfy. He doesn't think we should see terrible things as intrinsically good but just as being used by God to produce inner good in us and to further the kingdom of God.

I suggest that you find some of the passages that you don't think Piper takes into account very well and search his website for them to see if he's preached on them. I suspect you'd be very surprised and would realize that he doesn't think anything like what you're taking him to think.

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