John Piper first presented his philosophy of Christian Hedonism in his book Desiring God, published in 1986.
– Piper “It was the first copy of desiring God. I shut the door to my study as I opened it, and fell to my knees at my chair, with the book in my hands. I was trembling and tears came to my eyes. I laid the book before God and pleaded with Him for protection from the temptations to sin that the book would bring”
Over the next three decades Piper has taken every opportunity to promote his philosophy in numerous sermons, a number of books and articles, and many conference addresses, with a special focus on the annual Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
The subject of Piper\’s address to the Passion Conference in 1997 was Christian Hedonism. Preaching to a large audience of young people he said: “So my call to you now, in the name of God the Almighty is that you might make it your eternal vocation to pursue your pleasure with all the might that God mightily inspires within you.”
Since then, as the keynote speaker at many Passion Conferences, he has given seventeen Passion talks encouraging tens of thousands of young people to follow the way of Christian Hedonism. In 2001 he published a summary of his philosophical system in the book The Dangerous Duty of Delight.
– Piper “Desiring God, which is my core main book, is a big book. I took the core message of it and put it in this little one, called The Dangerous Duty of Delight: Daring to make God your Greatest Desire. It is a core duty, delight yourself in the Lord and he\’ll give you the desires of your heart. It\’s a command. You say: Nobody\’s ever told me, God wants me to be happy. In fact, He wants me to be happy so much he commands me to be happy in Him.”
In October 2016 Piper preached a sermon entitled \’Fifteen Dreams for the Future of Christian Hedonism\’. Piper began the sermon by describing the heart of Christian Hedonism.
– Piper “You are obligated to pursue your maximum joy in God. So here\’s my definition of Christian Hedonism, today. Since God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, therefore, in everything we do we should always be pursuing maximum satisfaction in God, and striving to take as many people with us into that satisfaction as we can, even if it costs us our lives. That\’s my definition of Christian Hedonism. In my 1961 high school Webster\’s Collegiate Dictionary Hedonism is defined as quote, \’a living for pleasure\’ and definition no. 2 is \’a devotion to pleasure as a way of life\’ and that is precisely what I mean by the word hedonism. And, I will immediately insist upon the radical position that the only pleasures that oblige us so seek them that is the only ones that we are morally obligated by God to seek are ones you cannot feel, until you are born again. They are spiritual pleasures in all that we do made possible by the creation of a new heart. Christian Hedonism, in other words, is not optional. It\’s not one way of life that you can choose among others. It is the heart of what it means to be a Christian, to be saved; you\’re not saved if you\’re not a Christian Hedonist. Not if you use the term. Christian Hedonism goes so far as to say, that if you don\’t pursue your maximum pleasure in God, you cannot worship Him. And, if you, you don\’t pursue your maximum pleasure in God, you cannot love people. So we\’re not talking about something marginal, when we talk about Christian Hedonism, we\’re talking about the very heart of a Christian.
John Piper is subtly introducing a new deviant way of thinking into the Christian Church which many find confusing. But as Scripture tells us, there is nothing new under the sun. piper\’s new deviant way is simply the old antinomianism dressed up in the new clothes of Christian Hedonism. In an interview John Piper is asked the question: Are Christians under the Ten Commandments? His response is unequivocal.
– Interviewer: John, are Christians under the Ten Commandments?
– Piper “No! The Bible says we\’re not under the Law, ha, ha, ha. So we died to the Law, you\’re not married anymore, you can have another husband, namely Christ, he\’s raised from the dead. So the approach towards ethics is different. You don\’t ask the question am I under the Law, we\’re under grace. The law\’s fulfilled perfectly by Jesus.
Antinomianism means \’against the Law\’ and is the belief that there is no moral Law that God expects Christians to obey. It makes the error of confusing justification with sanctification. While we are justified by faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from works, we grow in faith and holiness by keeping God\’s holy commands. We delight in doing so out of deep gratitude for the grace bestowed on us by Christ. An antinomian, on the other hand, believes that because he is under grace he is no longer bound by God\’s oral Law as a rule of life. In his Passion talk 2017, Piper openly reveals his opposition to law-keeping. He first defines his understanding of sin. He says:
– Piper “The essence of evil is to lose a taste for God. Or flip side the coin: to prefer anything more than God is the essence of all your evil.”
Piper\’s definition of sin is not based on Scripture. Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the Law of God (1 John 3:4) and as rebellion against God\’s Word (1 Samuel 15:23).
– Piper “You will never devote your life to magnifying God by being satisfied in God, until you see that the ultimate essence of evil is the failure to be satisfied in God. The essence is I don\’t get any pleasure from God, so I want other things to drink, that\’s the essence of evil, I don\’t enjoy God anymore. The ultimate essence of evil is the loss of taste of God, as our all-satisfying life and joy, or flip the coin over: the ultimate essence of evil is a preference for other things, other people, anything created, more than God. That\’s the ultimate essence of evil, Biblically.”
But Piper is wrong. According to the Bible: Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the Law: for sin is the transgression of the Law. 1 John 3:4
Sin in the Garden of Eden
To understand Piper\’s teaching on Genesis, we need to understand God\’s command given to Adam: And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thous shalt surely die. Genesis 2:16-17
– Piper “Genesis chapter 3. What is the ultimate essence of the first, original, world-infecting sin? So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Let me say those three things again: Watch what\’s happening in the human heart that gives rise to an act: This is really good food, it\’s delicious and it\’s nourishing; I can see it, and you won\’t let me have it. He won\’t let me have it. This is beautiful, it\’s a delight to my eyes, and God wants to keep me from it. And they ate; and what did that mean? It meant: \’We will not be denied what we desire more than God\’ so what was the essence of evil as it began in the human race? What was the essence of the fall of humanity? Was it the eating of the forbidden fruit? NO! The moral outrage, the horror, of what happened here, was that Adam and eve desired, desired, desired this fruit more than God. That\’s the essence of evil, they delighted more in what the fruit could be for them than what God could be for them, eating was not the essence of evil. They preferred something else and that\’s the ultimate essence of evil.
Rebellion Against God\’s Authority
– Piper “Isn\’t rebellion against God\’s authority, deeper and more primal a problem than the preference of fruit over God? “
Piper\’s question needs to be seen in context. We must note that Piper has not mentioned God\’s commandment to Adam. After Adam and eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened, and they knew they were naked, and they hid themselves from the presence of God (Genesis 3:7-8): And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him… Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? (Genesis 3:9-11). clearly, in God\’s eyes the sin of Adam and eve was disobedience to his command. And then came God\’s judgment for their disobedience: And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commended thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (Genesis 3:17). Piper answers his question about rebellion against God\’s authority.
– Piper “I\’ve been taught that they disobeyed. Period. No! Disobedience to the command of God is not more basic, not more fundamental, not more ultimate than what they desired above God.”
Contrary to the teaching of Piper, the Apostle Paul teaches that the sin of Adam was the sin of disobedience. In the book of Romans the Apostle Paul, referring to Adam\’s sin, writes: For by one man\’s disobedience many were made sinners, (Romans 5:19).
– Piper “As long as you see commandment-keeping, as the essence of good, and commandment-breaking as the essence of evil you will never know why you do what you do!”
Piper\’s teaching is misleading, for he has completely ignored God\’s first command to man, and so he makes light of Adam\’s disobedience. The essence of Piper\’s teaching is antinomianism. Piper does not teach that disobedience to God\’s commandment is the original sin against God\’s holy, righteous character.
– Piper “So no! Disobedience or Law-breaking is not the ultimate essence of evil. Paul put it like this, Romans 3:20, Through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. So, the Law doesn\’t make sin sin, it\’s there, in you, in me; it\’s in our desires. I want other things more than God. I enjoy other people more than God, that\’s the ultimate essence of evil. We have simply reduced evil to commandment-breaking and good to commandment-keeping. It\’s not the essence, it\’s all result, it\’s all overflow, it\’s all fruit from this this foul fountain of preferring anything to God. The greatness of God\’s majesty is magnified, not in hollow efforts to keep commandments, every religion does that, that doesn\’t make God look great, it makes you look moral.”
Note Piper\’s dismissive attitude towards God\’s commandments. He ridicules the \’efforts\’ of those who seek to keep God\’s commandments as \’hollow\’, and by implication, as unimportant. The apostle John wrote: And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:3-4). For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. (1 John 5:3). Piper\’s offhand comments about morality reveal his antinomian mindset. The apostle Peter teaches: \’As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”\’ (1 Peter 1:15-16 NKJV).
– Piper “Obedience to God\’s commandments, delight in God\’s character, have you got those two, which of these is more essential?”
Piper is presenting a false dichotomy. God\’s holy, righteous, gracious character is revealed in His Ten Commandments, which He wrote on tablets of stone. These Commandments, which are a declaration of God\’s moral Law, are for all people, for all time. Believers who love God, delight in His commandments (Romans 7:22), which are holy, righteous and good (Romans 7:12), and seek to obey them.
Speaking at the Passion Conference in 1997, Piper said:
– Piper “Does the Bible really teach that you should pursue your joy and you r pleasure? My answer is yes, with commandments like Psalm 37:4 \’Delight yourself in the Lord.\’ This is not a suggestion, this is a commandment. If you believe \’thou shalt not commit adultery\’ is something you should obey, then you should also obey \’Delight yourself in the Lord\’.”
But Piper is wrong to assert that the phrase quoted from Psalm 37 is a commandment. The Law of God was delivered to Moses, not David. In Psalm 37 David is bearing witness to the faithfulness of God. His purpose is to exhort believers in times of affliction to trust in the grace and goodness of God; although evil men appear to flourish the Lord will not forsake His saints. Those who understand the faithfulness of the Lord are encouraged, \’Delight yourself in the Lord.\’ Piper is wrong to insist that this exhortation is a commandment of God. In effect, Piper has made \’Thou shalt delight in the Lord\’ the 11th commandment. Building on the false claim that \’Delight yourself in the Lord\’ is a commandment, Piper says, \’I am a Christian Hedonist not for any philosophical or theological reason, but because God commands it.\’ So an essential justification for Piper\’s Christian Hedonism is the belief that we are commanded to seek delight in God. Here we should note that seriousness of Piper\’s attempt to add to the commandments of God. At Passion 2017, Piper was still adamant that Psalm 37:4 is a commandment:
– Piper “God turned the delight in His character into a commandment, Psalm 37:4. Delight yourself in the Lord. So now you\’ve got a commandment to field this.”
The prophet Moses wrote: Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (Deuteronomy 4:2).
– Piper “By His very nature, and His supreme beauty, and His supreme worth, it is right to delight in Him above all things, and that is why it\’s a commandment. God doesn\’t take random, neutral or bad things and say, \’I think I’ll make this one good\’, and then just create a commandment for it, and we\’re all into this external stuff, \’I’ve gotta keep the commandments.\’ That what\’s Christian Hedonism is. It\’s the smite on morality, it\’s the smite on religion, it\’s the smite on externality and performance, and stuff, laws and lists that don\’t come from in here that have never tasted the joy, that have never embraced the absolute rock solid, heart-enlivening truth.”
Piper is wrong to say that keeping commandments is external stuff. Jesus Christ said to his disciples: \’If ye love me, keep my commandments\’ (John 14:15). We should not be surprised therefore, that at the heart of Christian Hedonism is a profound antinomianism, which has the following characteristics: A neglect of the holiness of God; a disregard for obedience to God\’s Law; an indifference to the fear of God; an irreverent style of worship; an ambivalent view of duty; and a low view of Scripture.
The Pursue of Pleasure
– Piper “That anyone who agrees with the Westminster Catechism: What is the chief end of man? Namely, man\’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, would have to agree that the enjoyment of God, and the pursuit of it, is an ultimate duty for every human being. “
In seeking to persuade believers to become Christian Hedonists, Piper writes: \’We will tell them that delight in God is their highest duty.\’ In Dangerous Duty of Delight, Piper extols the overwhelming importance of Christian Hedonism as a way of life. He writes: \’It is what the whole universe is about. The radical implication is that pursuing pleasure in God is our highest calling.\’ He says: \’Maximizing our joy in God is what we were created for.\’ \’Maximum happiness, both qualitatively and quantitatively, is precisely what we are duty-bound to pursue.\’ And more: \’If Christ\’s honor is our passion, the pursuit of pleasure in Him is our duty.\’ At the center of Christian Hedonism is Piper\’s assertion: \’God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.\’
– Piper “If God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him. Your vocation for the rest of your life on this planet 25/7 is to maximize your pleasures in God. Period, no qualification – in God, in God, in God.”
Piper says that pursuing pleasure in God is our highest calling, our ultimate duty. Piper\’s assertion are deeply antinomian for they ignore the teaching of Scripture, which declares: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13). The clear teaching of Scripture is that God is glorified when we obey His commandments; live a holy life, and worship Him in the beauty of holiness. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 20:2). Our Lord said: Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:8). Scripture does not teach that God is glorified by a hedonistic approach to life. Our Lord said that the highest pursuit of man is to love God with all his heart, mind and strength by obeying His commandments. According to the Apostle John: And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. (2 John 6). But Piper\’s antinomian mindset has made the pursuit of pleasure in God a higher Christian duty than obeying God\’s commandments.
Piper\’s flawed view of worship
By his frequent attendance of Passion Conferences over the years, we learn much about Piper\’s approach to worship, for we see with our own eyes the style of worship that he says he loves. At Passion 2017, Piper was effusive in his praise of Passion\’s worldly style of worship.
– Piper “One of the things I love about Passion, is that Passion celebrates a majestic, holy, glorious, just, beautiful God and His Son, by the Spirit, and then it works its way out in the lyrics of the songs.”
What follows are a few examples of Passion \’worship\’ that Piper says he loves.
Hillsong United (Text: This is living now. You take me higher than I’ve been before. It\’s your perfect love that sees me soar. God your freedom is an open door. You are everything I want and more.) Next song ( Salvation sounds a new beginning as distant hearts begin believing. Redemption\’s bid is unrelenting. Your love is relentless. Your love is relentless. Your love is relentless. Your love is relentless.) This is counterfeit worship. Laserljus, strålkastare, flera meter höga tv-skärmar, dansande, studsande publik.
- Lecrae Rap artist Lecrae at Passion 2013. Revelry
- Rap artis Tripp Lee at Passion 2015. Singing Manolo, Manolo, Manolo, Manolo.
The ethos of a Passion Conference is indistinguishable from that of a worldly rave concert. We have seen a few examples of Passion\’s worship that in Piper\’s mind is celebrating, \’a majestic, holy, glorious, just, beautiful God.\’ We must conclude that ungodly, counterfeit worship is a central attribute of Piper\’s Christian Hedonism.
In the Dangerous Duty of Delight Piper writes: “Christian Hedonism” is a controversial name for an old-fashioned way of life. It goes back to Moses, who wrote the first books of the Bible and threatened terrible things if we would not be happy: “Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart… therefore you shall serve your enemies” (Deuteronomy 28:47-48). Piper has set out to prove, by a quote from Deuteronomy 28, that Moses was a Hedonist. Speaking at Passion 1997, Piper said:
– Piper “It\’s a quotation from Deuteronomy 28:47, and it\’s devastating: Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. God threatens terrible things, if we will not be happy in Him. I mean is that a warrant for hedonism or what+ is that a warrant for making it your life vocation to pursue your joy in God with all you r might?”
In 2015 John Piper preached a sermon to the New Canaan Society entitled: \’It is right to live for maximum pleasure. Eight reasons from the Bible.\’
– Piper “We are threatened terrible things if we will not be happy in God. God threatened us if we ill not be happy in Him. Deuteronomy 28:47: Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things, therefore, you shall serve you r enemies. Which makes us serious, massively serious about happiness. You go to hell if you are not happy in God – supremely.”
Piper\’s comment, \’You go to hell if you are not happy in God\’, is entirely without Biblical warrant and just plain wrong. It seems he is trying to frighten people into joining his \’Christian\’ Hedonism movement by threatening them with hell. For Piper to treat the subject of eternal damnation in such an irresponsible way reveals much about his flawed ministry. Here we should also note Piper\’s deceptive interpretation of Deuteronomy 28:47. He has excluded the previous two verses, which are essential to a correct understanding of the passage. The reason for God\’s anger and punishment of Israel was not because Israel did not \’serve with joy and a glad heart\’, but because they did not obey His commandments; it was disobedience that led to their failure to serve with joy and a glad heart. Piper has twisted Scripture to make it appear that God commanded Israel to pursue their joy or suffer terrible things. But Piper has misrepresented Scripture. If he had quoted from verse 45, then we would see an entirely different picture. Moses writes: Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou harkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and hist statues which he commanded thee: (Deuteronomy 28:45). The whole purpose of Deuteronomy 28 is to set before the Israelites the blessings and curses that will result from obedience or disobedience to God\’s commandments. One does not need to be a theologian to see this. As a committed antinomian, Piper has avoided the true reason for God\’s anger, namely Israel\’s disobedience to God\’s Law. His mishandling of Deuteronomy 28 is shameful, for it demonstrates his ability to twist Scripture to suit his own ends. Piper\’s misleading use of Scripture discredits his dogma of Christian Hedonism, and his reputation as a serious Bible teacher.
Is the Apostle Paul a hedonist?
Piper writes into Scripture the idea that the Apostle Paul was a Christian Hedonist. In dealing with 2 Corinthians 1:23–2:4, Piper invites us to notice, quote, \’how Paul\’s pursuit of their joy and his own joy relates to love\’. Piper goes on: \’When this joy abounds in his converts, Paul feels great joy himself, and he unashamedly tells them [Corinthian Church] that the reason he does not want to rob them of their joy is that this would rob him of his joy.\’ Piper writes: \’This is the way a Christian Hedonist talks.\’ Piper concludes, Paul \’did not want to be pained. He wants joy, not pain. He is a Christian Hedonist!\’
The Folly of Christian Hedonism
Christian Hedonism is a man-made concept that has no Biblical warrant. Over many decades John Piper, who admits to a \’tremendous longing for happiness\’, seems to have spent his ministry trying to persuade the Church at large that Christian Hedonism is Biblical. Most alarming, is the way he has blatantly distorted and misrepresented Scripture in his personal crusade to achieve this end. We must conclude that Piper\’s Christian Hedonism is a heretical doctrine that is deceiving many. It has no place in the Christian Church.
For those deceived by Piper\’s false doctrine of Christian Hedonism, we recommend:
- Reject Piper\’s antinomianism and obey God\’s moral Law;
- Reject Passion\’s counterfeit ungodly worship;
- \’Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man\’ (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Part 2 The Errors of John Piper
John Piper\’s Charismatic personality and powerful preaching style have made him extremely influential among evangelical Christians and especially among young people. His best-selling book, Desiring God – Meditation of a Christian Hedonist, published in 1986 has been called a 29th 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, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” ~John Piper.
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 satisfied 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.” Piper insists he is a Christian Hedonist \’not for any philosophical or theoretical reason, but because God commands it\’ (Desiring God, p25).
In a perceptive review of Desiring God, Pastor C.W. Booth of The Faithful Word.org, comments: \’While studying philosophy books, both Christian and secular, Dr. Piper states that he hit upon the idea of Christian Hedonism and then turned to the Bible to see if it could be supported… This book disappoint the discerning Christian on many levels. The entire premise of the book is built primarily on an extra-biblical creed, derived from a single question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.\’ The review concluded: \’Desiring God is not really a book about having joy in God, it is a call for all Christians to become hedonists. In so much as the book has only secular philosophy, edited creeds, and misinterpreted Scripture supporting it, the philosophy of “Christian Hedonsim” is truly unworthy of further attention by the Church…
This reviewer strongly recommends that young Christians should avoid this book, and its subject-philosophy altogether\’ (Reviewing Titles from Dr. John Piper, 2002, by C.W. Booth).
Purpose of this video
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 Piper\’s Christian Hedonism is a false doctrine. This video sets out to explain a number of errors in John Piper\’s teaching.
Cracking the insidious code: John Piper\’s “Desiring God”
The first thing to understand is that Piper is skilled in mixing truth with error, and in doing so in a way that is dufficult to detect. In a series of articles: Cracking the Insidious Code: John Piper\’s “Desiring God” Pastor Michael Buttler, 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 four in chapter three, and so on. 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 may have been persuaded to leave the boundaries of Scripture and no longer be 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 which integrates the concept 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. Speaking on the subject of Christian Hedonism at the 1997 Passion Conference, Piper commented on Psalm 37:4: “Does the Bible really teach that you should pursue your joy and you r pleasure? My answer is yes, with commandments like Psalm 37:4 \’Delight yourself in the Lord\’: This is not a suggestion, this is a commandment. If you believe, \’Thou shalt not commit adultery\’ is something you should obey then you should also obey \’Delight yourself in the Lord\’.
But Piper is wrong to insist that this exhortation is a commandment of God. He has equated his \’delight command\’ with God\’s Seventh Commandment, implying that they are of equal authority! Piper has taken one verse from Psalm 37, completely out of context, and created a new commandment for the Christian Church. But Scripture is clear. Moses wrote: \’Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you\’ (Deuteronomy 4:2).
Piper\’s attempt to add to the commandments of God is a serious error. Another text Piper often misuses is Deuteronomy 28:47-48, which he calls a terrible threat to all who will not be happy (Desiring God, pp293-4). In a keynote address to the New Canaan Society in 2015, entitled, \’It is Right to Live for Maximum Pleasure – Eight reasons from the Bible\’, Piper dealt with Deuteronomy 28:47 and made the amazing statement, “God threatens us if we will not be happy in Him Deuteronomy 28:47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart for the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies, which makes us serious, massively serious, about happiness. You go to Hell if you are not happy in God, supremely.”
A mere glance at verses 15 and 45 shows that Piper\’s interpretation is false and misleading. Deuteronomy 28 is about obedience to God\’s commandments, not about being happy in God, as Piper wants us to believe. Piper again manipulates Scriptures to make the claim that the Apostle Paul was a Christian Hedonist (Desiring God, p122). Piper even claims, in his \’Ask Pastor John\’ interviews, that the Lord Jesus Himself was a Christian Hedonist. Piper said: \’So, my answer is yes. Jesus was a Christian Hedonist. He is today a Christian Hedonist… Jesus was the best Christian Hedonist who ever existed, both in His own motivation and His teaching about motivation…\’ (APJ, episode 998, 3 Feb. 2017).
The \’Happy God\’ of Christian Hedonism
Piper emphasizes the point that the happiness of God is a central doctrine of Christian Hedonism. He writes: \’Therefore if God is not a happy God, Christian Hedonism has no foundation. The aim of the Christian Hedonist is to be happy in God, to delight in God, to cherish and enjoy His fellowship and favor. Therefore, \’the foundation of Christian Hedonism is the happiness of God\’ (Desiring God, p33). Though none of the many English translations of Scripture refer to God as \’happy\’, Piper\’s Christian Hedonism demands the \’happy God\’. With a clever, quote, \’digging up\’ of Scripture (others might call it a clever manipulation of Scripture) Piper is able to transform the \’blessed God\’ of Scripture (1 Timothy 1:11) into the \’happy God\’ of Christian Hedonism. But Piper\’s \’happy God\’ is not the God of Scripture, who is the \’blessed God\’ and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Piper makes no attempt to explain the difference in meaning between \’blessed\’ and \’happy\’. In Scripture \’happy\’ always refers to human beings, who are experiencing a pleasant emotion in favorable circumstances; it is never used of God. (Pleasures of God, 1991, p23). We must conclude, therefore, that Piper\’s \’happy God\’ is purely of his own invention and has no legitimate basis in the revealed Word of God.
Piper\’s understanding of Love
Piper\’s understanding of love is an important dimension of Christian Hedonism. Piper writes: \’ethicists have tended to distinguish these two forms of love as agape and eros., but conceptually both resolve into one kind of love at the root. God\’s agape does not “transcend” His eros, but expresses it\’ (Desiring God, p124). This is vital to his Christian Hedonism, as eros love is fundamentally self-seeking or hedonistic. Piper insists that all love, as expressed in good deeds, is motivated by the pursuit of pleasure. By this he means that the only love of God, and the only love of man that will please God, are both at root erotic, motivated by self-pleasure. While he acknowledge agape and eros as different Greek words, he denies that they distinguish between two very different concepts of love. Piper simply rejects the New Testament understanding of \’agape love\’ (sacrificial and self-giving), to promote his hedonistic view of love. So, he coins a new definition of love, one that combines agape and eros, namely – \’holy, divine eros\’, and he does this despite not one mention of eros in the New Testament.
Piper\’s commitment to antinomianism (an age-old heresy) is examined in my book Is John Piper an Antinomian? (2018). In the Ask John Interviews, he responded to the straight-forward question: Are Christians under the Ten Commandments? No! The Bible says we\’re not under the Law.. huh, huh, huh” Piper relied on what many see as the proof text for antinomianism, Romans 6:14 \’For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the Law, but under grace.\’ But he used only the second part of the verse, out of context, and ignored the first part of the verse: \’For sin shall not have dominion over you\’. The word antinomianism means \’against the Law\’. It may be defined as the doctrine which holds that because Christians are under grace, they are no longer under God\’s moral Law as expressed in the Ten Commandments. An antinomian therefore believes that God\’s moral Law is not binding on Christians as a rule of life. However, Reformed Biblical Christianity rejects antinomianism as a heretical doctrine. It holds that while believers are delivered from the aw in its covenant form, they are still under it as a rule of life. Yet, answering a question about antinomianism (APJ, episode 366, 18 June 2014), Piper claimed that the word is not defined enough for him to respond, and he listed a series of absurd definitions to muddy the waters: “The term antinomianism is often, is not defined enough for me to know what to say, I’m not sure what people are referring to when they talk about it… I just want to scream sometimes, say Oh, for definitions please, definitions!” He failed to affirm that obedience to God\’s moral Law as a rule of life is fundamental to living a sanctified Christian life. In his address to the Desiring God Regional Conference in March 2008, entitled, \’The Origin of the Unwasted Life\’, John Piper dealt with the question: \’What\’s the nature of our depravity, sin, fallenness, corruption?\’ “We prefer His gifts over Him, that\’s the essence of our wickedness. Now why do I define depravity that way? Why not define depravity in terms of law-breaking? I sort of grew up this way. God has a Law: Don\’t eat this tree. You break the Law by eating the tree. God punishes you with judgment. You must find deliverance from that judgment. That\’s the paradigm I grew up with, and the reason I’m not talking that way is because it is so non-penetrating to your soul\’s need. Law-breaking is not your main problem!”
Piper has created a caricature of the orthodox view of the Fall. He rejects the \’paradigm\’ that God punishes law-breaking, declaring, \’law-breaking is not your main problem\’. But he is distorting Scripture, which makes it clear that Adam and eve rebelled against God\’s command regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: \’thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die\’ (Genesis 2:17). They disobeyed this very first commandment and stood guilty before God as lawbreakers. But Piper rejects the idea of punishment and judgment as \’non-penetrating\’ to the soul. He wants a Gospel that downplays judgment and the consequences of disobeying God\’s Law, replacing it with a false Gospel that \’prefers\’ God above all things.
Speaking at Passion 2017, Piper openly revealed his opposition to law-keeping. He said that obedience to God\’s moral Law is secondary to seeking pleasure in God. \’So no! Disobedience or law-breaking is not the ultimate essence of evil.\’ And \’No! Disobedience to the command of God is not more basic, not more fundamental, not more ultimate than what they [Adam and Eve] desired above God.\’ But the Apostle Paul says otherwise: \’For as by one man\’s disobedience [Adam] many were made sinners, so by the obedience of on [Christ] shall may be made righteous\’ (Romans 5:19). Paul does not identify a deeper \’desiring\’ behind disobedience, but Piper\’s Christian Hedonism needs this. Piper summed up his Passion address in these words: \’The ultimate essence of evil is a preference for other things, other people, anything created more than God, that\’s the ultimate essence of evil, Biblically.\’
Our Lord Jesus obeyed God\’s Law perfectly, and true believers, those who are justified by faith in Christ alone, should strive to do the same (Matthew 5:18-10). Christ gives the true spiritual meaning of the Law. The purpose of His mission was not to annul or repeal God\’s standards of righteousness, as set out in the Law; He did not lessen the law\’s authority or free men from the duty to obey the moral Law. Indeed, every human being under Heaven is under a lasting obligation to obey God\’s Law, summarized in the Ten Commandments. A true believer loves his heavenly Father and delights in His Law, which is holy, just and good (Romans 7:12). \’O how love I thy Law! It is my meditation all the day\’ (Psalm 119:97). But Piper\’s interpretation of the first sin is unbiblical and encourages a hedonistic approach to life. According to the Bible, sin is transgression of the Law of God (1 John 3:4). So it is disobedience to God\’s commandments, not a lack of \’desiring God\’ that is our problem. Piper\’s Christian Hedonism is predicated on antinomianism – they stand or fall together.
A fuller evaluation of Christian Hedonism is provided in my book: Christian Hedonism? A Biblical examination of John Piper\’s teaching – E.S. Williams 20017. It reveals a man-made concept based on an antinomian view of Scripture, a false view of God\’s love, an ungodly view of worship, a worldly view of happiness, a twisted view of Scripture, and a wrong view of salvation. Over several decades Piper has preached his false doctrine of Christian Hedonism throughout the world, utilizing the internet to do so. Most alarming is the way he has subtly distorted and misrepresented Scripture. Plausible as his mix of truth and error may seem, we must conclude that John Piper\’s Christian Hedonism is a heretical doctrine that has no place in the Christian Church.
Christian Hedonism? A Biblical examination of John Piper\’s teaching (2017), ES Williams, Belmont House Publishing,
The Pied Piper: Is John Piper and New Calvinism destroying the Church? (Dec 2017), Enoch Burke, Burke Publishing.
John Piper in the Dark
Piper\’s Journey into Hedonism
The Folly of Christian Hedonism
Is John Piper an Antinomian?
John Piper\’s Hero: C.S. Lewis
\’Cracking the Insidious Code\’ series (2017-18), published in English Churcman, and available from therealjohnpiper.com