John Piper’s pursuit of maximum pleasure
John Piper’s Christian Hedonism teaches that the pursuit of pleasure is central to the Christian life. At the Passion Conference in 1997, Piper said to several thousand young people, ‘If this is true, that God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him — and therefore there is no tension or contradiction between your satisfaction in him and his glorification in you — then the vocation of your life is to pursue your pleasure. I call it Christian hedonism.’
In his message ‘Joy is Never Optional’ (July 25, 2017), Piper says:
‘God commands all people, everywhere and in all times, to pursue their maximum pleasure. And by maximum, I mean two senses: qualitatively and in duration. So, he commands every human being to pursue 24/7 with all your heart and all your soul, all your might, all your strength, pleasure — maximum pleasure. Maximum in quality, maximum in duration.’
In Desiring God, Piper says, ‘I found in myself an overwhelming longing to be happy, a tremendously powerful impulse to seek pleasure… it is unbiblical and arrogant to try to worship God for any other reason than the pleasure to be had in him’ (DG p18). Piper proposes that man’s greatest pleasure should be found in God. ‘The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God. Not from God, but in God’ (DG p28).
‘This fact—that praise means consummate pleasure and that the highest end of man is to drink deeply of this pleasure—was perhaps the most liberating discovery I ever made… The pleasure Christian Hedonism seeks is the pleasure that is in God Himself’ (Desiring God, p23,24).
Piper again: ‘Between man and God, on the vertical axis of life, the pursuit of pleasure is not just tolerable: it is mandatory’ (DG p111). And: ‘The pursuit of pleasure is an essential motive for every good deed. If you aim to abandon the pursuit of full and lasting pleasure, you cannot love people or please God’ (DG p112).
In his sermon, ‘The Pursuit of Joy in Life and Ministry’ (January 23, 2009), Piper says: ‘To the extent we try to abandon the pursuit of our own pleasure, we fail to honor God and love people. Or, to put it positively: the pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of all worship and virtue.’
In his sermon, ‘Join Me in Soul-Satisfaction in God’ (September 2014),
Piper ‘says that all true virtue includes the effort to maximize pleasure in God… A Christian Hedonist doesn’t just accept such pleasure, or find such pleasure, he pursues it and makes an effort to maximize pleasure in God… It [Christian Hedonism] believes that pleasure in God is itself precisely what the heart should pursue, in all that it does… In fact, it is a sin of huge, God-belittling proportions, not to seek your maximum pleasure in God. God is honored when we find in him our supreme treasure. God is honored when he is our supreme pleasure.’
‘God will bring you — body and soul — through life and death to full and everlasting pleasure, if he is your safest refuge, and your supreme treasure, and your sovereign Lord, and your trusted counselor.’
Piper’s sermon at the New Canaan Society, entitled,
‘It Is Right to Live for Maximum Pleasure: Eight Reasons from the Bible’ (May 1, 2015): ‘If God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him, and if Christ paid the price of His most infinite blood, for that glory through that satisfaction, your vocation for the rest of your life on this planet 24/7 is to maximise your pleasure in God; period, no qualifications! In God, in God, in God!’
The term ‘hedonism’ is from the Greek word ἡδονή (hédoné) for pleasure. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, the word hédoné is used of the gratification of sinful desires. Strong’s Concordance says hédoné has a strong negative connotation, ‘generally referring to pleasure that is made an end in itself. That is, the satiation of bodily desires (lusts) at the expense of other things.’ The word occurs five times in New Testament, and each use has a negative connotation.
For example, the apostle Paul uses hédoné in his letter to Titus do describe the lusts and pleasure of a disobedient lifestyle,
‘For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another’ (Titus 3.3).
Apostle Peter uses hédoné to describe the pleasure of those who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness.
‘And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you’ (2 Peter 2.13).
In the early 1980s John Piper created Christian Hedonism by joining together the humanistic philosophy of hedonism with the Christian Faith. The purpose of hedonism is to pursue a life of maximum pleasure; it cares nothing about truth. The purpose to the Christian life is to pursue holiness and righteousness, established and guided by the Holy Spirit of Truth. Piper’s Christian Hedonism is a heretical doctrine that has done a great disservice to the Church of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
 Piper sermon, Passion for the Supremacy of God, 2 January 1997, Passion Conference, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/passion-for-the-supremacy-of-god
 Piper Post, Joy is Never Optional, July 25, 2017. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/treasure-god-magnify-christ-love-people/excerpts/joy-is-never-optional
 Piper sermon, The Pursuit of Joy in Life and Ministry, Session 1, January 23, 2009, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-pursuit-of-joy-in-life-and-ministry-session-1
 Piper sermon: SEPTEMBER 14, 2014, Join Me in Soul-Satisfaction in God, Village Church, Maple Plain, Minnesota, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/join-me-in-soul-satisfaction-in-god.
 Piper sermon, The Path to Full and Lasting Pleasure’ (August 11, 2015) https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-path-to-full-and-lasting-pleasure