Thursday, April 14, 2011

Think by John Piper

Piper argues that, “careful thinking is integral to a full apprehension of the gospel.” (11) Yet, “against the prideful use of the intellect, he argues that clear thinking following biblical patterns will lead away from self to a full delight in God's grace as the key to every aspect of existence.” (12)
Piper's book “is a plea to embrace serious thinking as a means of loving God and people. … It is a plea to see thinking as a necessary, God-ordained means of knowing God.” (15) It is different from other Christian books on the topic in that there is more biblical exposition. Piper is a Bible expositor, figuring out what the Bible means and how it applies to life. That is what he does in this book.
Piper is not an intellectual elite. He merely wants Christians to use thinking as one of the means to know God, love Him and serve people. “I would like to encourage you to think, but not to be too impressed with yourself when you do.” (17)
Piper shares his own story of being awakened to the life of the mind. He writes about the impact Jonathan Edwards has had on thinkers and how thinking and feeling relate to each other. He looks at reading and how it relates to thinking. Then he investigates how thinking functions in the process of coming to faith and sustaining faith in Jesus. He relates thinking to loving God. He speaks to the failure of relativism. He looks at the anti-intellectualism that has been the mark of recent Christian history. He warns against being prideful with a “knowledge that puffs up.”
Piper suggests, “that loving God with the mind means that our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.” (80) Loving God with all your mind Piper takes to mean “that we direct our thinking in a certain way; namely, our thinking should be wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.”
He shows that having zeal is not enough. One can have zeal but not be saved. (Rom.10:1-2) The knowledge has to be there too.
“The aim of this book,” he says, “is to encourage serious, faithful, humble thinking that leads to the true knowledge of God, which leads to loving him, which overflows into loving others.” (154) Piper says the Scripture passage, together with the use of our minds, alongside the power of the Holy Spirit, will actually change our lives.
He ends his book with the conviction that all knowledge, all learning, all education, all schooling, exists for the love of God and the love of man.

Piper's is not the easiest book to read. There were several places where I got bogged down. Unfortunately, thinkers will be attracted to this book (they already think) but I doubt non thinkers (who really need it) will find the book attractive.

Crossway, 184 pages.

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