Insights in the Institutes – Christian Hedonism

31 07 2008

John Piper’s teaching on the enjoyment of God being the key to glorifying him has impacted the Reformed evangelical world very deeply. The teaching of books such as Desiring God, with the use of terms like ‘Christian Hedonism’ have been the inspiration of discipleship and debate in almost equal measure.

I have posted before about my initial struggles with the notion of Christian hedonism, and my eventual acceptance of it as authentic in biblical and historical terms. This is evidently the case when one comes to read the Institutes. A number of quotes could be drawn from the early sections of Calvin’s great theological treatise, but the following more than adequately summarises much of what he teaches about our relationship to, and enjoment of, God our creator.

“I call ‘piety’ that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces. For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him – they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him”.

[Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol.1, p.41]