Monday, February 21, 2011

Think, by John Piper

Despite the fact that I sat on Think for longer than I intended (Jonathan beat me to it) I found it worth the wait.

I had to confess I was drawn to the title because I think people fail to do just this with their Christian faith. As a society we've grown complacent. We look at books about theology and we think they are too hard for us to read. We look at old hymns of the faith and consider them outdated and too difficult to sing. We run into someone who thinks differently than ourselves and we're sometimes too afraid to just stand up and say, "I disagree." Words as simple as that won't fall from our lips because we are afraid of the consequences. (And it's true. Tell someone you don't agree with them and hold fast to your convictions and you will be judged and attacked for it, if not simply thought poorly of.) All the more reason for us to learn how to think properly, so that we will be ready to give an answer when it is needed.

Then I opened the book and Piper gave me perspective. Oh yes, this is a book about thinking, to be sure. It is a book about learning to think Biblically, accurately and in a God-oriented way.

"Thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God. Thinking is not an end in itself. Nothing but God himself is finally an end in itself. Thinking is not the goal of life. Thinking, like non-thinking, can be the ground for boasting. Thinking, without prayer, without the Holy Spirit, without obedience, without love, will puff up and destroy (1 Cor. 8:1). But thinking under the mighty hand of God, thinking soaked in prayer, thinking carried by the Holy Spirit, thinking tethered to the Bible, thinking in pursuit of more reasons to praise and proclaim the glories of God, thinking in the service of love - such thinking is indispensable in a life of fullest praise to God." (Page 27)

The basic message Piper is communicating in this book is that thinking's primary purpose is to drive us into passionate worship of God. It is to know Him more fully, to learn to serve Him with all of your heart, soul, and mind.

Thinking is to be an indispensable part of our Christian walk. Yet there is a call to emotions as well - since we were created with them and therefore must learn how to manage them! Having been on both sides of the church aisle, if you will, between thoughtful worship and an emotional experiences, I would have said before reading this book that both sides have merit. After reading it, I think the same. However, I do agree with Piper in the idea that relying solely on emotional experiences and "feel good" moments holds the potential for greater danger. If we lose our heads when pursuing Him in worship, failing to make a conscious effort to study Him and understand His words and His requirements then we are on dangerous ground. When we refuse to think, we subject ourselves to false teaching and poor influences which ultimately weaken our faith. Piper says this in his introduction:

"This book is a plea to embrace serious thinking as a means of loving God and people. It is a plea to reject either-or thinking when it comes to head and heart, thinking and feeling, reason and faith, theology and doxology, mental labor and the ministry of love. It is a plea to see thinking as a necessary, God-ordained means of knowing God. Thinking is one of the important ways that we put fuel of knowledge on the fires of worship and service to the world." (Introduction)

In other words, to be able to worship passionately, we must learn to love wisdom and knowledge. To learn is to grow in a myriad of situations but specifically to know the Lord.

"Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get understanding." Prov. 4:7

"How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver." Prov. 16:16

I think perhaps the chapter I enjoyed the most in this book was Piper's chapter on The Immorality of Relativism (Chapter 8) and helped me to understand what the arguments of Relativism is as well as how to think about it. I could write up an entire post just on the one chapter!

Think is very approachable book. Piper's writing style is easy to read and follow along with. It's hard to miss the points he is trying to make and his arguments are worth a listen.

Obviously, I liked it. I appreciated his emphasis on learning to love God and others. I appreciated the way he concluded the book by stressing the importance of non-thinkers relying on thinkers, and thinkers to admit and confess their ultimate dependence on God and to not shut out all emotions. I thought Think was well-balanced in both its approach to thought and its encouragement of it. I highly recommend it.


Janet said...

Sounds good. I suppose the only weakness of books that remind us of the importance of thinking is that it's generally those who already think who read them. But maybe there is power in a name -- maybe there are people who would read John Piper who wouldn't read other authors saying the same thing.

Enjoyed getting your thoughts on this one!

Barbara H. said...

Sounds like to provides much to think about. :-D

Seriously -- looks like one I should put on my list.

Melissa said...

Bumping this one up on my wish list so I can read it. After reading your review, I see how much I really, really need this book right now.

Ronnica said...

I'm not a huge John Piper fan, but this book I'm very interested in. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I can not recall if I read Piper before but this one sounds worth trying. Thanks for sharing about it.

Anonymous said...

Awesome expected! I hope I can find this on on audio-book, sounds like it'd be the perfect travel companion on my way to and from work!

bekahcubed said...

I'm gonna have to read this one some day here. Last year was my year of "exercising my mind towards the things of God"--and I definitely learned that moving the mind can move the heart towards worship. I'm HIGHLY in favor of the integrated form of worship that engages both mind and emotion. After all, are we not called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength?

Shonya said...

Wow, this looks outstanding! Sounds somewhat like the book "Spiritual Discernment" which is on my list of books I'd like to get. Wonder which would be better. . . :D

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