Cracking the Insidious Code: Review of John Piper’s Desiring God

Michael Butler, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church, Carson City in Nevada, has posted a review of John Piper’s book, Desiring God on the Pulpit & Pen website.

The review is entitled: ‘Cracking the Insidious Code: A Review of John Piper’s Desiring God: Part 1’.

Michael Butler explains the reason for his review. He writes in a discussion on Facebook:

‘Oddly enough I have never read Piper until after I graduated from TMS [The Master’s Seminary]. Now that I have been in the pastorate I have experienced the most troubling situations in communicating the gospel with young people. The difficulty comes from a perversion within the doctrine of God’s Love. After researching what most of the young people had in common, I found a tie to Piper’s Desiring God. I originally asked the same question as you, why now after 30 plus years? Why haven’t the leading pastors of the past 30 years dealt with this book? I don’t know. What I do know is that I have been handed the responsibility to deal with the book for the sake of those in my flock and the salvation of many souls.’

Butler understands the cost of contending for the gospel. He writes: ‘I am deeply grieved in my heart to write this post as I am most certainly sure I will not only suffer the cost of exposing a man who is considered by many to be orthodox and thoroughly Reformed, but I anticipate that I will also suffer the loss of friendships as the same man is loved by the masses of Christian young people everywhere. It goes without saying that John Piper is a very noteworthy man.’

Butler starts his review by identifying four principles of engagement:

‘The first principle, Piper openly admits he wrote Desiring God “to be a philosophy of life that he believes is biblical” (23-24). Piper’s statement is crucial to the cautious Christian reader as there is a strong warning from Scripture regarding the dangers of philosophy. Furthermore, can one trust what a man believes to be true and therefore read his book without a critical eye?’

‘Second principle, Piper asserted “In short, I am a Christian Hedonist not for any philosophical or theoretical reason, but because God commands it (though He doesn’t command you to use these labels!)” (25). While it seems that Piper contradicts himself in the introduction, it would be a good idea to ask the question, does God command believers to be a Christian Hedonist?

If God doesn’t command me by using the labels Piper employs, how can I know God has commanded me to be a Christian Hedonist? God is not ambiguous.’

‘The third principle, any good book will provide a simple definition up front on the topic being discussed and then demonstrate its truth. Typically, this is referred to as a thesis. A simple thesis statement tells the reader what the author is striving to prove. But Piper does not believe telling the reader what he is thinking up front is the best way to go. For example, Piper said:

“Fresh ways of looking at the world…do not lend themselves to simple definitions. A whole book is needed so people can begin to catch on…I would prefer to reserve a definition of Christians Hedonism until the end of the book when misunderstandings would have been swept away”(27).

‘Fourth and final principle to be employed in this book is the use of systematic theology to understand the book through the biblical lens. The previous three principles demonstrate a high probability of error being contained in Piper’s book. Furthermore, a high probability of Piper purposely leading his reader astray exists as his book is a philosophy, not a theology. In order to pass through the Christian reader’s judgment without being detected, Piper must utilize a form of writing that appears to include a biblical argument while at the same time prevents the reader from detecting the philosophical contradictions.

After reviewing the book, this author was able to detect a system of communication that made it difficult for the error within the book to be detected. A form of philosophical argumentation known as recursive logic is utilized in the writing style of the book.

Simply stated, Piper’s argumentation works by asking of his reader to at first give up a little grain of truth in chapter one and then to give two grains of truth in chapter two and so on until the end of the book. By the time the reader arrives at the end, he has given up more truth to Piper than he has realized. In fact, the reader has left the boundaries of Scripture and can no longer discern truth from error.’

Published on Pulpit & Pen

Read Micheal Butler’s review part 1