Monday, January 16, 2012

Significant Books: Desiring God

When Lewie Clark began discipling me in the winter of 1999 the first book he recommended I read was John Piper's Desiring God.

During our conversations I believe it became clear to him that I didn't have a solid theological foundation but I was eager to explore.  Although I had grown up in church I had never thought deeply about God's ultimate purpose for creation, his character, or his sovereignty.  Desiring God obliterated a significant portion of my world-view and re-oriented me on God's glory, his goodness, and his grace.  I remember reading a single paragraph or sometimes just one sentence and having to set the book aside to ponder and meditate.

It remains the most painful book I've ever read.  I lost my appetite and had trouble sleeping for a bit as I wrestled with it, but I ultimately fell joyfully in love with the picture of God which Piper painted from the Scriptures.

This is Piper's seminal work, and it undergirds his entire ministry (also named "Desiring God").  The book is subtitled, "Meditations of a Christian Hedonist," which can explained thusly: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."

The book is very well organized which was extremely helpful for me personally since the content was so mind-bending.  Here's a break-down:
  • Introduction: How I Became a Christian Hedonist
  • Chapters:
    1. The Happiness of God: Foundation for Christian Hedonism
    2. Conversion: The Creation of a Christian Hedonist
    3. Worship: The Feast of Christian Hedonism
    4. Love: The Labor of Christian Hedonism
    5. Scripture: Kindling for Christian Hedonism
    6. Prayer: The Power of Christian Hedonism
    7. Money: The Currency of Christian Hedonism
    8. Marriage: A Matrix for Christian Hedonism
    9. Missions: The Battle Cry of Christian Hedonism
    10. Suffering: The Sacrifice of Christian Hedonism
  • Epilogue: Why I Have Written This Book: Seven Reasons
  • Appendices (surprisingly helpful):
    1. The Goal of God in Redemptive History
    2. Is the Bible a Reliable Guide to Lasting Joy?
    3. Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained That Evil Be? Jonathan Edwards on the Divine Decrees
    4. How Then Shall We Fight for Joy? An Outline
    5. Why Call It Christian Hedonism?
Since I finished Desiring God I've read over a dozen other books by John Piper.  In essence, they are all the same book - Desiring God.  I've given almost 10 copies of this book away over the last 12 years, and I even recommended it to my philosophy professor in college.  Other than the Bible, there is no other book I more highly recommend to believers.

It is available for free in digital form or, of course, in print.

I'm curious about who else has read Desiring God and their opinions of it.  Was it challenging to read?  If so, was the challenge worth it?  Do you agree with Piper's vision?  Why?

P.S. The cover pictured above is no longer in print, but I chose it because it was the cover of my original copy and holds a special place in my heart.  

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