John Piper’s charismatic personality and powerful preaching style have made him extremely influential among evangelical Christians and especially among young people. His bestselling book, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (1986), has been called a 20th century classic that changes lives. Some reviewers even declare that, next to the Bible, Desiring God is the most life-changing book they have ever read. This is the book that introduced Piper’s novel philosophy of ‘Christian Hedonism’ to the Christian world, summed up in his phrase, ‘God is most glorified in in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.’ At the 1997 Passion Conference, Piper explained his philosophy to thousands of young people. He enthusiastically declared: ‘If this is true, that God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him… then the vocation of your life is to pursue your pleasure. I call it Christian Hedonism.’ He insists he is a Christian Hedonist ‘not for any philosophical or theoretical reason, but because God commands it’ (DG, p25).
Despite his huge popularity, there are those who believe that Piper is compromising the Christian Faith. While many Christians sense that there is something seriously wrong with combining the Christian Faith and the worldly philosophy of hedonism (pleasure-seeking), few understand why Christian Hedonism is a false doctrine. This video sets out to explain the errors of John Piper’s teaching.
Cracking the Insidious Code
The first thing to understand is that Piper is skilled in mixing truth with error, and in doing so in a way that is difficult to detect. In a series of articles, ‘Cracking the Insidious Code: John Piper’s Desiring God’, Pastor Michael Butler, of Fellowship Bible Church in Carson City, Nevada, explains the method of philosophical argumentation known as ‘recursive logic’, which makes it difficult to detect error within the book. Simply stated, Piper’s recursive logic works by enticing his reader to first give up a little grain of truth in chapter one, and then to give up two grains of truth in chapter two, and so on. By the time the reader arrives at the end, he has given up more truth to Piper than he has realised. In fact, the reader may have been persuaded to leave the boundaries of Scripture and be no longer able to discern truth from error.
Despite his massive reputation as a Bible teacher, Piper frequently uses Scripture out of context to support his Christian Hedonism, a doctrine that combines the philosophy of hedonism with the Christian Faith. To legitimise this syncretism, Piper misuses Scripture to create a new commandment, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord’, from Psalm 37.4. Piper has used this phrase to create a new commandment for the Christian Church.
In effect, Piper has equated his own ‘delight command’ with God’s Seventh Commandment, implying that they are, of equal authority! He has taken part of one verse, completely out of context, and created a new commandment. Piper’s attempt to add to the commandments of God is a serious error.