Well...I am going to come right out and say it. I really struggled reading this book. I agree with with what the author is saying, but I found it very difficult to read. It came highly recommended by my father-in-law who is a pastor, so I know it's good. I have read two other books by John piper that I really enjoyed. He has a very warm writing style. I think the content was a little too technical for me right now.
I received this book for free for the purpose of review from Waterbrook Multnomah.
From all the books I've reviewed for Waterbrook's this one is the hardest book I've read, I had to literally force myself to read it. I can't buy into the whole Christian Hedonism philosophy. My best advice is to read it for yourselves, then you make the call if this book is good or bad for you. I've included a short video of Piper discussing his book. I apologize to Waterbrook and Mr Piper but I have to be true to my interpretation of this book. Remember it's my interpretation others may find it a better read than I have. So again i say read it for yourselves and then make your own conclusions.
In this Christian classic, John Piper serves up a delicious meal of meat-and-potatoes doctrine, and explains why it is almost correct for the Westminster Catechism to say, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Piper modifies this to say, "The chief end of man is to glorify God BY ENJOYING Him forever."
Piper points out God has a passion for His own glory. At first that sounds like an arrogant statement, but Piper convincingly shows that God's glory is of paramount importance to Himself and is supported by Scripture. See John 11:1-6, John 17:1-5, and John 17:24-26.
I highly recommend this book for Christians who want to understand how God can be most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. That is John Piper's thesis throughout Desiring God as he argues that we are meant to experience an abundance of joy in life through the glorification of God. Early on, Piper spends time defending this idea he calls "Christian Hedonism." In this argument, he ties together God's sovereignty, His desire to glorify Himself, and our pursuit of pleasure in God. This culminates with the idea that, "God's pursuit of praise from us and our pursuit of pleasure in Him are the same pursuit" (50).
According to Piper, the idea that work for God is unholy if done in pursuit of happiness is incorrect as long as this pursuit centers around brings glory to God instead of achieving worldly gain. Thus, we should desire joy and happiness so long as it flows from glorifying God. In order to demonstrate this point, he breaks down the Christian life into several sections that revolve around things like worship, prayer, money, and marriage. In each of these, he shows the proper way to delight/fulfill joy in God while properly glorifying Him. For example, in regards to worship, Piper suggests that emotion, like joy, is actually a necessary part of worship because emotion reflects the "worth of God's glory" (88). Meanwhile, in regards to money, Piper opines that the proper manner to delight in God through money revolves around fulfilling His mission in the world (201). In the end, Piper suggests that pursuing joy through glorifying God will lead to more scriptural living, deeper affection within the body of Christ, and will glorify God.
At first glance, it appears Desiring God is nothing more than Calvinistic "health and wealth" doctrine. However, Piper actually weaves an extensive scriptural case that does not center around health or wealth, but about glorifying God through enjoying Him. The sovereignty and glory of God is at the center of the book and Piper is clear that material possessions and blessings are for God's glory. Only through using them properly will man find true happiness. Thus, instead of merely teaching that man should be happy, Piper properly avoids heresy by connecting joy to working for God. This is theme found within Scripture and Piper proves it well (Philippians 1). In this, he avoids the trap of the prosperity gospel while making some key and well proven points about joy in the Christian life.
That said, Desiring God is about two hundred pages too long. The different sections of application are helpful, but they essentially repeat Piper's main point, but in different terms. This is helpful, but often makes reading redundant and limited. In addition, the massive amount of quotations from C.S. Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, and the Bible make the book rather choppy and hard to follow. More summarization would have served Piper well and perhaps shortened this lengthy discourse.
These objections, though, are mere points of technicality. Ultimately, Piper argues well for Christian Hedonism and speaks on enough issues to challenge almost any reader. While Desiring God is a difficult read at times, it is well worth the time to investigate and think through the claims and challenges of John Piper.
Reviewed by Matt Ahearn for Waterbrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging for Books program. I received the book as a review copy and I was not required to give a favorable or unfavorable perspective.