What are your thoughts on Christian Hedonisn?

(Joel David Sanchez) #1

On sunday school in my Church we’re studying Christian Ethics, we have seen some of the options for non Christian Ethics, we have seen that Hedonisn is one self destructive system. But there’s a Christian Hedonisn that actually is been teached by Piper. I would like to know what do you thing of Christian Hedonisn?

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #2

This is a good question, @Joel_David_Sanchez. I personally like this quote from John Piper’s article:

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Or: The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. Does [Christian Hedonism] make a god out of pleasure? No. It says that we all make a god out of what we take most pleasure in. My life is devoted to helping people make God their God by wakening in them the greatest pleasures in him.”

You could see more here:

(Rebekah Mohn) #3

Good question. I have been wrestling with this a little for the past half a year. This is how I think about it. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says “The chief end of man is to glorify God AND enjoy him forever” while Christian Hedonism says “The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever”. So I think the main question is the difference between “by” and “and”. “And” suggests to me that there maybe times that we act out of seeking God’s glory which are not modivated by enjoying in him, there are times we act of of delighting in him without the expressed purpose of bringing him glory, and there are times we are motivated by both together. (I might spend time with God with the purpose of enjoying in him without the purpose of bring him glory although it will do that as well. Alternatively, I might seek his glory in a way that makes me uncomfortable and doesn’t lead clearly to my enjoyment.) I interpret the use of “by” instead of “and” to say that if I seek to enjoy God, I will bring him all the glory. Although I do think as we bring God glory when we delight in him, I am afraid that there are aspects of his glory that I neglect if I am just seeking to enjoy him. Because I think we are made both to glorify God and to enjoy him, I tend to disagree with Christian Hedonism. However, I would really appreciate hearing other people’s thoughts.

(Joel David Sanchez) #4

Thanks, i agree on that “and” and “by” diference, i’ve been wrestling with it too.

(SeanO) #5

@Joel_David_Sanchez I had never thought deeply about this topic before and @Rebekah.M’s point about the ‘by’ / ‘and’ difference got me thinking, so I checked out the Wikipedia page.

If Wikpedia can be trusted on this point, Christian Hedonism seems to make 2 claims very strongly:

  1. It is praiseworthy and good to seek reward from God
  2. God is most glorified when we are enjoying obedience to Him / God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him

Point (1) seems healthy and is a response to Kant’s argument that ‘actions are only praiseworthy if they do not proceed from the actor’s desire or benefit’ and the quote from C. S. Lewis makes the point well:

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and to earnestly hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I suggest that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Point (2) is a reiteration of Jonathan Edwards teaching. Piper is quoted as saying “the greatest thing I have ever learned from Edwards…is that God is glorified most not merely by being known, nor by merely being dutifully obeyed, but by being enjoyed in the knowing and the obeying”.

After thinking about this topic more as a result of this very intriguing thread, I disagree on this second point because I think it is too rooted in human emotion. I do not think Abraham enjoyed walking Isaac up to the mountain to be offered as a sacrifice. Joseph surely did not enjoy being thrown into the pit by his brothers. And it says in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus “for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” - the joy was not during His obedience, but rather after - when He brought many sons and daughters to glory.

I believe that faith is not only the evidence of things ‘not seen’ but also the evidence of things ‘not felt’ and that obedience, at times, may be difficult to the point that only by God’s strengthening can we endure it.

That said, one of my favorite passages is Paul and Silas rejoicing in prison. And certainly we are to ‘rejoice always, and I will say it again, rejoice’. And God’s Word is ‘more desirable than gold’ and following God better than the pagan’s joy when their ‘new wine abounds’.

I agree we should find joy in God and seek to enjoy Him, but I think the more Biblical word to use may be love - for love endures all things, hopes all things, believes all things - even when it cannot see or feel their reality.

So for me personally, I think the word I would prefer to use is ‘love’ and we love because He first loved us.

(Lindsay Brandt) #6

Sean, I agree with you, especially when you say that second point is too rooted in human emotion. This point may sound good to some because of our culture today and its emphasis on feeling, but it isn’t biblical to allow how we feel to lead us. The way this line of thinking is packaged is a bit deceptive. I would think that anyone who takes on and agrees with this might struggle when he senses God leading him to do something that won’t feel good or bring instant gratification (which is usually what allowing our feelings to lead us is about). We can see this in our daily lives, in practicing patience with our children or with other people while driving. We don’t enjoy that. However, patience is a fruit of the Spirit God wishes to develop in us as He works through the Spirit to form us more into the image of Christ.