Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Chief End of Man...The Pursuit of Happiness

I am already loving "Desiring God" and I haven't even made it past the introduction yet. Piper quotes the Westminster Catechism and changes one little word in it to begin to introduce us to his term "Christian Hedonism". He changes

The chief end of man is to glorify God
AND
enjoy him forever.

to

The chief end of man is to glorify God
BY
enjoying him forever.

His basic premise so far is that he is building a philosophy of life based on 5 convictions derived from the scriptures.

l. The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful.
2. We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction.
3. The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God.
4. The happiness we find in God reaches its consummation when it is shared with others in the manifold ways of love.
5. To the extent we try to abandon the pursuit of our own pleasure, we fail to honor God and love people. Or, to put it positively: the pursuit of pleasure is a necessary part of all worship and virtue.

Two of my favorite quotes in the introduction:

"All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves." --Blaise Pascal

"If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit 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 about 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." --C. S. Lewis

Piper goes on to warn about distortions of this pursuit of happiness and basically to tell us that this is a meditation on the scriptures.

My only concern so far was when I read this statement, "Worship is basically adoration, and we adore only what delights us. There is no such thing as sad adoration or unhappy praise." My thought is this, when Abraham takes Isaac up the mountain to slay his son, I don't think he was happy, I think he was very sad. Yet, he went there to worship God, his greatest passion. I think that there actually may be such a thing as sad adoration, that is not hypocrisy and I think this is a Biblical example of that.

I love the idea that we should pursue happiness with passion and as a people of faith we know that the only truly satisfying thing is God himself.

I look forward to the days ahead.

No comments: