If you are going to read anything by John Piper then the place to start is Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. This book, which began as a teaching series at Piper’s church, became the catalyst for Piper’s ministry—both at the local as well as the global level. In fact, an examination of almost any of Piper’s “post-Desiring God” books will reveal the influence that this work had on Piper.
Most people are familiar with the content of Desiring God either by reading the original edition, or through hearing Piper speak. But just in case, Desiring God is an apologetic for what Piper calls “Christian Hedonism.” In other words, Piper argues that all Christians should be living for their own greatest joy. This sounds strange until one realizes that our greatest joy is achieved by loving God and others (i.e. the greatest commandment). Throughout the book Piper works to show how “Christian Hedonism” can and should affect every area of a Christians life. The list of subjects covered by Piper includes:
- An explanation and defense of Christian Hedonism
In each of these areas Piper labors to show how Christians, just like Christ, should be laboring for the joy that has been set before us.
The importance of the Desiring God in the world of evangelicalism cannot be overstated. This book, along with Piper’s ministry, was part of the leading edge of the Reformed resurgence in evangelicalism. Desiring God has helped this movement avoid the extremes of “dry theology” and has preserved the revivalist spirit of men like Jonathan Edwards (For those familiar with Edwards, Piper has depended greatly on Religious Affections to shape his thinking on Christian Hedonism).
Not only is Desiring God a valuable read, but getting your hands on the new edition will prove valuable as well. There is a great deal of new and updated content in the New edition. In fact, one of the most enjoyable parts of reading the new edition was comparing the new edition with the original. There are a great deal of updates, new footnotes, and additional content that has been added to make this edition a wise purchase even if you have the old edition (Plus, there is a study guide provided in the back in case you are using this as a bible study resource).
Piper pushes the envelope in places, and intentionally uses language that can be challenging to our conceptions of Christianity. You might not agree with everything, but I think you will agree with me that the message of this book is valuable.