Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Christian Hedonism and Angst

For a long time, I have fallen victim to angst. I get sad about the passage of time. I get a small existential crisis around New Year's. And as someone who probably thinks too much, what non-professional advice can I give to those who are prone to angst like me?

One of the best insights into reality has been by John Piper, who is a pastor in Minnesota. The insight didn't quite originate with him. But he gave the concept a wonderfully descriptive name "Christian Hedonism".

Most of the world and even many Christians don't view godly living and seeking after God as fun. Sin is fun, or at least some sin. Doing what you want. God, with all His rules, is a cosmic killjoy.

Christian Hedonism turns this on its head. We are built to enjoy God. While sin can be fun or pleasurable short-term, long-term it is an awful way to live. It won't make you ultimately happy. God isn't trying to decrease your joy, but to increase it.

Now, if your heart hasn't been regenerated, you won't find God enjoyable. But you are still built to find satisfaction in God. As Augustine said: "Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you."

Put another way, God is most glorified when we are most dependant on Him.

I fully encourage you to visit John Piper's ministry to learn about Christian Hedonism. From the site:
Does seeking your own happiness sound self-centered?Aren't Christians supposed to seek God, not their own pleasure? To answer this question we need to understand a crucial truth about pleasure-seeking (hedonism): we value most what we delight in most. Pleasure is not God's competitor, idols are. Pleasure is simply a gauge that measures how valuable someone or something is to us. Pleasure is the measure of our treasure.

We know this intuitively. If a friend says to you, "I really enjoy being with you," you wouldn't accuse him of being self-centered. Why? Because your friend's delight in you is the evidence that you have great value in his heart. In fact, you'd be dishonored if he didn't experience any pleasure in your friendship. The same is true of God. If God is the source of our greatest delight then God is our most precious treasure; which makes us radically God-centered and not self-centered. And if we treasure God most, we glorify Him most.

Does the Bible teach this? Yes. Nowhere in the Bible does God condemn people for longing to be happy.

I'll have to check that out...speaking of "existential crises", I used that same exact phrase to someone a few months ago when a co-worker who is slightly younger than I brought her new baby into school. That precipated an existential crisis for me, in which i lost sleep and wondered "what the hell am I doing with my life". I'll check it out...

OK, i read it...i don't know if that's going to fly for some people..i know what he's saying, but sounds as if he's not being honest about the fact that in most religions there is a measure of self-deprivation that can result in less pleasure. I suppose you can file that under the "short term pleasure" but something doesn't sit right to me with what he is saying. I can't really say now, i have to run, but i'll think about it some more and can have a more sensible response...

John Piper is a deep thinker and is well-aware of self-denial. But the overall point is that we are denying our sinful nature. It does result in less pleasure. But we should find our pleasure in God which goes much deeper. It is more complicated. I would recommend his book "Desiring God."
well, la-de-dah for John Piper

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?