Headhunting Hedonists Pt.2: Thomas Watson

1 04 2008

I’m contemplating a short series on the influence of John Piper’s ministry on the Body of Christ globally (but then again series on this blog don’t always get off the ground!!). I am coming to a growing conviction that his preaching, writing, and resourcing ministry are being signally used of God for the glory of Christ’s Name, and the edification of His people. I, for one, am deeply grateful to God for the lessons I am learning from Piper, and the staff at Desiring God.

What is most striking about this worldwide phenomenon is that Piper is not teaching anything new, but is bringing old truth to God’s people in fresh ways. As I’ve shared in a previous post, one of the issues which I have struggled most to assimilate into my own theological thinking is his concept of Christian Hedonism. It is here that he is most cutting edge and (predictably) most criticised. I have pondered the notion that we should seek to seat our joy in pursuing God, and that the desire for such joy is noble and right – that duty in the service and worship of God is not enough. It has taken me some months, but I am now firmly convinced that not only is this teaching viable, but that it is vital to the spiritual health of God’s people.

What is most refreshing, however, is the adumbrations of this teaching which one finds in writers from different eras and geographical locations who advocate Christian Hedonism – although they do not use the actual term.

My latest discovery in this realm has been Thomas Watson, whose ‘The Godly Man’s Picture’ was last month’s book on Timmy Brister’s Puritan Reading Challenge. This is a wonderful little volume, with fascinating and heart-breaking reflections on the nature of true godliness. Mixed in among the gems in Watson are a number of references to very Piper-esque ideas and phrases. I trust they bless and challenge you to pursue your joy in the worship and service of God. I know that they have richly blessed me:

‘Let us test our godliness by this touch stone: Do we love God? Is he our treasure and centre? Can we, with David, call God our ‘joy’, yes, our ‘exceeding joy (Psa. 43:4)? Do we delight in drawing near to him, and ‘come before his presence with singing’ (Psa. 100:2)? Do we love him for his beauty more than his jewels? Do we love him, when he seems not to love us’ [31].

‘If we are prizers of Christ, then we take great pleasure in Christ. What joy a man takes in that which he counts his treasure! He who prizes Christ makes him his greatest joy. He can delight in Christ when other delights have gone: ‘Although the fig tree shall not blossom, yet I will rejoice in the Lord’ (Hab 3:17,18). Though a flower in a man’s garden dies, he can still delight in his money and jewels. He who esteems Christ can solace himself in Christ when there is an autumn on all other comforts’ [52].

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