This is a summary of John Piper's defense of the term "Christian hedonism"
from his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist:
- The term "hedonism" means "a living for pleasure". If the chief end
of man is to enjoy God forever, then we should live our lives for pleasure --
the pleasure of knowing God.
- The term does not refer to a single, pagan philosophy but is a generic
term that has been applied to a wide variety of philosophies that elevate
the pursuit of pleasure. For the Christian hedonist, it includes the idea
of pursuing the greatest pleasure, not in the short term, but maximized
- Many wise, old Christians have chosen to describe the Christian life
in these terms. C. S. Lewis and Soren Kierkegaard are among them.
- The term has a jolting effect. This is appropriate for a philosophy
that has a life-changing effect on its adherents. Furthermore, this
philosophy can be extremely threatening to nominal adherents of Christianity,
since it focuses on the motives of the heart rather than superficial actions.
- Although the word definitely has a pagan connotation in most
circumstances, Scripture itself uses words with normally negative
connotations to teach positive truth. For instance, Jesus compared
himself to a thief in the night. He also commended the shrewdness of
an unrighteous steward. Surely, a word that is in essence quite
neutral can be used to express the truth that we should find our highest
delight in God!
- Finally, the word "Christian" as a modifier of the term "hedonism"
signals loud and clear that this is no ordinary hedonism. It is controlled
and defined by the Christian revelation, the Bible. Only by submitting
ourselves to the authority of Scripture can we know what is everlastingly
For more information, I strongly encourage you to read Piper's book. Click
here for more details.