Tim Keller Rejects Core Concept of John Piper’s Christian Hedonism
Rick Warden in his article, ‘Tim Keller Rejects John Piper’s Christian Hedonism’, (October 13, 2018), writes:
John Piper’s book Desiring God was first published in 1986. So basically 32 years after it was first published a popular Christian leader is finally acknowledging what scores of less popular Christians have been showing for decades, that the basic concept of Piper’s Christian Hedonism is false.
My skepticism began to grow about Piper as I read various criticisms against John Piper’s teachings, and God also gave me some personal insights as to why it is a false doctrine. E.S. Williams has compiled a list of some critiques of Piper at his website TheRealJohnPiper.com and I was glad to see that Williams published a book that focuses on the scripture twisting and scripture censorship that runs throughout Piper’s published work: Christian Hedonism?: A biblical examination of John Piper’s teaching (2017)
The first sign to me that Keller was beginning to break from Christian Hedonism was the title of his book, The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy (2012). The basic idea of the book is that a sense of self-forgetfulness is a good thing and we should not try to consciously connect every experience in our lives as Christians with how it affects us and our feelings. Jesus taught that joy is paradoxical, and the idea of self-forgetfulness is in keeping with Christ’s teachings on joy. This is contrary to Piper’s core (false) belief that we should always be consciously seeking our own joy in God as the prime motive in all that we do.
The second sign to me from Keller came with the following Tweet from October 3, 2018:
“Until you follow God expecting no personal benefit, you’re’ not really following God.”
This is diametrically opposed to Piper’s doctrine of Christian Hedonism. To help understand what Piper actually teaches, I wrote a review of Piper’s summary article on the subject of Christian Hedonism, titled Five Heresies of Christian Hedonism.
Keller’s statement on Twitter reflects the opposite extreme of Piper. While Piper claims that we must always seek God only for pleasure and reward, Keller says that we must expect no personal benefit from God. Neither view is accurate. The Bible does show that we will have rewards in heaven based on what we do with our lives, and it is appropriate to look forward to these benefits. However, any rewards and benefits from God, or in God, shouldn’t supersede the value of our prime personal relationship that we have with God by grace and the prime authority God has over us by design.