John Piper’s newest book will help Christians think about thinking. Focusing on the life of the mind helps us to know God better, love him more, and care for the world. Along with an emphasis on emotions and the experience of God, we also need to practice careful thinking about God. Piper contends that “thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God.” So how are we to maintain a healthy balance of mind and heart, thinking and feeling?
Piper urges us to think for the glory of God. He demonstrates from Scripture that glorifying God with our minds and hearts is not either-or, but both-and. Thinking carefully about God fuels passion and affections for God. Likewise, Christ-exalting emotion leads to disciplined thinking.
Readers will be reminded that “the mind serves to know the truth that fuels the fires of the heart.”
- An encouragement to the church from the heart of a pastor to properly value the role of thinking in our Christian faith.
“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”
As I continue on my attempt to buy no more than one book a month for at least the first six months of this year, I am going back to a lot of old Christianaudio.com free books of the month that I picked up when they were free, but did not listen to at the time.
In the case of Think by John Piper, I am pretty sure that I picked up the audiobook because I respect John Piper. And I chose not to listen to it, because I get frustrated every time I read John Piper. I respect Piper because his heart for ministry, and because of his desire to encourage and edify the church. I get frustrated with Piper because it seems he has little imagination to see how anyone can believe something other than what he believes.
This books proved my previous experience yet again. Piper is writing this book to encourage the church to think more deeply, so that we can love the Lord better and more thoroughly and also love others. In many ways a book about why the reader should think more is like Tony Reinke’s book about why you should read more. Anyone that is going to pick it up, probably already agrees with the premise.
But Piper is writing with a particular focus on what scripture has to say about thinking. This is not a re-hash of Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind or any of the variety of other sociological or historical books about why the Evangelical church tends to be at least somewhat anti-intellectual in it approach. And it is different. I have read some of the other books about why we are in this place. Piper is writing about why it is a mis-reading of scripture that we are in this place.
As such I think the sections on why we should be thinking are quite helpful, although I do not theologically agree with everything. And unsurprisingly it is the sections on how to think rightly that I am frustrated. As with many other books that Piper and other conservative Evangelicals write, the enemy is ‘relativism.’ If relativism existed broadly, as they write about it, it would be a problem. The problem is that relativism as they write about it doesn’t seem to exist, or at least not in large numbers. And correspondingly, the prescription for fighting against relativism includes fighting against things that if relativism was presented accurately would not be included.
Everyone pretty much agrees that questions about relativism do not exist around questions of math. 2 + 2 = 4, no matter what you feel like, or who you are, or if you are going faster than the speed of light. But too often, it seems in the fight over absolute truth, the arguments are based around this type of a strawman.
Piper actually starts in a fairly good place. He agrees that only God possesses absolute truth and fully understands all truth. If he stopped there it would be great. But he goes on to dismiss differences in truth as being something that we should all be able to agree on, if we just see more deeply as God sees. It is when discussions like this come up that I want to ask, so is Giordanos or Gino’s pizza better. And if we can’t get to that truth, we just need to ask God and we should be able to get to the root of that particular truth. The problem is that some things really are a matter of preference. Not all things certainly, but many are.
Even in matters of sin, it is clear that some things are sin for one person but not for another. Drinking alcohol for instance, is not inherently a sin for all people. But to say it is not ever a sin, is problematic. If you think it is a sin to drink alcohol, then it is a sin for you because the act of drinking is a rejection of what you believe to be God’s direction. Another historical example is slavery. Douglas Wilson and some others in their attempt to fight against relativism and to preserve their view of inerrancy believe that slavery is not inherently wrong or sinful. I do not believe that Piper would agree with Wilson, but it shows some of the problem of Piper’s views about relativism.
Piper presents the world as if truth were easy, or at least possible, to discern for all things. If all things, even all theological things, were as easy to discern as it seems from his discussions of relativism, then we would not have such deep and real theological differences. That is unless the real reason for the differences is sin. Piper does not expressly say that differences are the result of sin. But I don’t know how else to understand differences based on his presentation other than sin.
Piper points to the passage about the Pharisees questioning by who’s authority Jesus was speaking as an example of relativism and a clear teaching by Jesus of the sin of relativism. But Pharisees were not relativists, even mild ‘de facto’ relativists as Piper suggests. The believed in absolute truth and their offense was that Jesus was not citing where he was getting his truth, not that they were offended by Jesus proclaiming truth. So the problem with the Pharisees according to Piper was that they were sinning in not acknowledging Jesus as God and his authority as coming from God. Of course that is true as far as it goes. But that does not seem to go as far as the passage intends.
I think that sin is a real problem with how and what we think. And Piper presents the problems of sinning as we think well. We sin when we do not acknowledge God as the founder of truth. We sin when we are not humble in our knowledge or when we use knowledge to tear down instead building up, etc., etc. These are all worth working through, but as presented, it is a bit repetitive.
Piper is good about concluding with the bottom line. The end section with practical advice for those that do not like to think and those that do like to think is good. The summary focus on all truth is God’s truth is good. The reminder that we can sin just as much by relying on our intellect as ignoring our intellect is good. But honestly, I am still not sure who I would recommend the book to.
- More solid teaching from John Piper
Think is yet another book filled with solid, Bible-based teaching from John Piper. I highly recommend it, as I do all his works.
- A fan of John Piper
First I want to say I'm a big fan of John Piper. Over the past 14 years I’ve listened in on many of his sermons and read several of his books. “Think” started off with a bang. I found it really good and interesting, but it slipped into tedious and even irrelevant notes of John on the importance of thinking. I found myself looking forward to the end. I should say that I had the audio version of this book and I personally disliked the style. The reader made me feel like I was a child listening to Mr. Rodgers.
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Makes you Think.
- Highly recommended
Think: The Life of Mind and the Love of God, by Pastor John Piper. In this book Piper encourages Chritians to think!
“thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God”. Piper backs this claim up with scripture, and brings to light the dangers of the anti-intellectualism movement in the church. If you think it is a waste of time to read a book or to learn anything about theology or doctrine - you may be part of this movement without knowing it.
At the same time, he makes it clear that using human intellect alone is also not scriptural. He also addresses relativism, showing the immorality, dangers and illogical constructs of this line of thinking and how to safeguard against it.
Like all of Piper’s works, it is incredibly deep and will require repeated reading to allow what is said to sink in. It is a good thing that it is a small book with very short chapters, to allow this to take place without using up too much of our time. Piper’s expounds the scriptures to carefully to explain that either extreme in this Intellectualism/Anti-Intellectualism debate is dangerous.
I listened to the audiobook edition from christianaudio and found the recording quality excellent. Wayne Shepherd did a great job of reading the book and presented it in a way that I think brings out the authors intent accurately.
I urge you to read or listen to this book if you want to learn how to grow closer to God.
- Like a deep-flowing river
In Think: The Life of Mind and the Love of God, bestselling author and pastor John Piper aims to encourage and help Christians to think. He argues that “thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God” and uses scripture to debunk and bring to light the dangers of the anti-intellectualism movement in the church. At the same time, he makes it clear that using human intellect alone is also not scriptural. He also addresses relativism, showing the dangers of this line of thinking and how to safeguard against it.
I found this book insightful. Like all of Piper’s works, it is incredibly deep and will, at least for me, require repeated listening before I will glean all of its insight. Piper’s approach is fresh and full of scriptural basis and he is careful to explain that either extreme in this debate is dangerous.
I listened to the audiobook edition from christianaudio and found the recording quality excellent. Wayne Shepherd read the book clearly and used proper inflection, keeping the reading interesting.
I urge you to read or listen to this book if you want to learn how to grow closer to God.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this audiobook free from the christianaudio Reviewers Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
- Excellent, HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
I want to thank the christianaudio Reviewers Program for the opportunity to listen and review this excellent work.
Author: John Piper; Narrator: Wayne Shepherd; Runtime: 4.73 Hrs. – Unabridged; Publisher: Crossway
Reviewed by Derek R. Iannelli-Smith
John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied at Wheaton College, where he first sensed God's call to enter the ministry. He went on to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary (B.D.) and the University of Munich (D.theol.). For six years he taught Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in 1980 accepted the call to serve as pastor at Bethlehem. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at desiringGod.org. John and his wife, Noel, have four sons, one daughter, and an increasing number of grandchildren.
If I could summarize the topic of Think I would define thinking; as a balance between stewardship, critical analysis, meditation, and God’s holiness in light of our sinfulness and Cross getting bigger.
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 the fuel of knowledge on the fires of worship and service to the world.
What if relativism, Mortimer Adler and anti-intellectualism were addressed with scripture and we heard what God really wanted to communicate?
Piper outlines succinctly in the introduction how he is going to map out the book, giving the same introduction discussion that was done 70 years ago with Mortimer Adler’s classic, “How to Read a Book.” I thought this was quite helpful but also affirmative in that he reflected a compliment to Adler’s challenge to us from the past.
This book addresses the anti-intellectualism of the evangelical mind quite well by addressing the many facets of thinking. I was struck by the “both/and” tone throughout the book in which Piper addresses our hearts when we feel the need to swing the pendulum one or the other ways (all we need is the holy spirit or holding to a critical thinking level as a sign of maturity). Regularly throughout the book Piper brings us to BOTH, and many times shows through the scriptures that it is BOTH. His work on expositionally addressing the longstanding anti-intellectual arguments of Luke 10:21 and 1 Corinthians 1:20 is fantastic!
I thought the book was exceptionally done! Many years ago, someone recommended J.P. Moreland's book to me because of my love for wrestling with the text of the Bible and what it means for the modern day disciple. Piper’s book, Think is another I will have as a reminder of the importance biblical balance when it comes to challenging myself and others with doing the hard work of meditation and studying as well as reminding me that it is not easy work and that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Piper states,
In summary then, all branches of learning—and this book about thinking—exist ultimately for the purposes of knowing God, loving God, and loving man through Jesus Christ. And since loving man means ultimately helping him see and savor God in Christ forever, it is profoundly right to say all thinking, all learning, all education, and all research is for the sake of knowing God, loving God, and showing God. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).
I highly recommend this book for all believers who desire to know God more fully and enjoy Him forever. This book will challenge our apathy to study, to swallow relativism, and to jump on the anti-intellectualism in our age. I like the fact that Piper takes our souls to task and reminds us that it is NOT about us, our victory, but a result of the victory of Christ at the Cross. I like that THINK embraces critical thinking versus ABC (already been chewed) Christianity. I also appreciate Piper’s reminder that this is not a new occurrence in the body of Christ but through the historical references (Jonathan Edwards and others) that they too attempted to address this deterioration that is so prevalent in the Christian worldview. I highly recommend it and would see this being a great small group study or even a sermon series to bring about revival in the evangelical mind. It was amazing to me that not much was said about this book like many others out there and it slowly vanished the ‘popular’ Christian book lists. However, I think this book is right up there with Mortimer Adler’s classic – How to Read a Book and should be a part of any Christian’s reading as they journey on the road of discipleship.
- Will cause you to Think!
This short, easy to read/listen to book encourages us to love God with our mind. Many books on this topic get pretty weighty. This one does not, but still covers the topic well, and causes you to Think. While Piper definitely gets the point across that we are to use our minds and think, his focus is clear that this isn't about a "head knowledge" only "intellectual" Christianity. But he clearly and scripturally refutes an anti-intellectual Christianity also. Our purpose is to study God's Word diligently to know God better to be able to love and glorify Him better, and show His love better to others. We need both disciplined study of the Word, and to trust God to teach us through His Holy Spirit. Piper, as always, calls us to the deep - to deep love of our great God. Piper also does a good job of Scripturally refuting relativism. The narrator of this audiobook does a fine job.
- Thoughtful audiobook
What I appreciated most about Think is that it is not for the thinker. What I mean is that many books that deal with the intellectual Christian are for the intellectual Christian. For some of those books, you need an M.Div to be able to even discern what is being written. Not so with Piper's book. As a matter of fact, he expressly states this in the introduction of this book. He says, "I am a preacher--a Bible expositor. Most of my time is spent trying to figure out what the Bible means and how it applies to life. That's what this book will taste like."
Piper nailed it. Think is more a devotional book dealing with the verses in the Bible that deal with the thought life and how to apply those verses to our lives today.
If you struggle with the balance between thought and emotion in your Christian walk, reading Piper's Think will go a long way to help you understand the need for both--especially the thinking. So many congregation members today do not think hard about their faith or their actions while many leaders in those congregations do not challenge their hearers. John Piper will exhort all Christians, regardless of the call on your life, to become a more thoughtful Christian.
I would recommend listening to this audiobook more than once to really be able to glean the most from it.
- It made me think!
The title of the book, "Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God" says so much about what this book is about. Piper weaves the fabric of these two topics together to reveal their fundamental connectedness. In other words, you can't truly have one without the other.
I know that some might disagree with that statement, but not if you truly understand the statement. Get the book, download it, listen to it.
Piper does a great job in this book of revealing the nature of thinking and the importance of thinking and the importance of good thinking. He even breaks down some Biblical examples of poor thinking.
I am fighting the desire to unfold all of the aspects of this book because of all of the brain synapses that started firing after I listened to it. It made me think!
The audio talent for the book also did an exceptional job. He brought the words to life in such a way that all of the proper emphasis were placed correctly.
If you've never purchased a Christian Audio book, this would be a good place to start.
- Lacking in style...
Narrated by Wayne Shepherd, "Think" is yet another audio book available by John Piper. Focusing on the necessity to think, this audio focuses on thinking of thinking. This audio book is presented in a manner to reflect that of a radio subscription or series, with the musical interludes between each "session."
Check out the rest of this review on my blog...
- An Improvement to the Life of the Mind
John Piper is a blessing to a generation. His books are very thought-provoking, and his latest work, appropriately titled Think: the Life of the Mind and the Love of God, does not disappoint here. Actually, it doesn’t disappoint anywhere. Piper encourages his readers (or listeners) to think.
Think is about using our minds in worship. The best section of the book delves deeply into this subject, analyzing the great commandment to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart… soul… mind… and strength.” Piper argues that thinking is essential to loving God with our mind, which weighs against anti-intellectualism. But he finishes his argument with the point that thinking should stir our affections (emotions) towards Christ.
The only downside was that his chapter on Jonathan Edwards seemed short. Since he has written extensively on Edwards elsewhere, this minor flaw can be overlooked. Actually, with Christian radio voice Wayne Shepherd narrating, the book is one of the best audiobooks I’ve gotten to enjoy from ChristianAudio (and that’s saying something).
Any library can be improved with a title from John Piper. Think has certainly improved my digital library, and I think it has improved the life of my mind as well.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from ChristianAudio as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
- I found this book to be a really good listen.
Early in the book, I was disappointed because it seemed to simply be a discourse between the two arguing camps of evangelicals about the importance of deep intellectual thought and the gospel. While this is a large part and reason for the book, that I eventually found enlightening and edifying, there is a deeper purpose to the book that is rooted in the fact that we are to love God will all our mind. This quote from the book sums up this thought.
"Knowing God is the root of loving God. The main reason that thinking and loving are connected is that we cannot love God without knowing God and the way we know God is by the spirit enabled use of our minds. So, to love God with all your mind means engaging all your powers of thought to know God as fully as possible in order to treasure him for all he is worth."
That quote, along with this entire section of the book is enough for me to encourage others to listen to this book.
Another section of the book that was very educational for me was the dangers of relativism. Now, I've known for a while that Relativism is wrong and essentially evil but John Piper throughly shows relativism to not only be false, but prideful and ultimately enslaving.
Wayne Shepherd also does a great job in the reading.
- Solid Stuff from Piper
Do intellectual integrity and Christianity mix? In Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, John Pipers says they do. Piper writes one of his most interesting recent works as he endeavors to show how a diligent scholarship is very much appropriate for one’s love of God.
Many believers do not see that solid thinking is important in the life of faith. Some argue that too much intellectualism will somehow harden a believer against the things of God’s Spirit. Piper, however, faithfully argues that God never called his people to be non-thinkers. While God clearly abhors the concept of human arrogance and men thinking they have found their own way to heaven, God loves when his people humbly use their mental faculties to know him better and love him more dearly.
If you are not much of a serious or deep thinker, reading this book could be a helpful exercise. Perhaps looking at Piper’s reasoning would encourage you to read more, to study harder, and to see how doing so will enable you to better follow God. This book may also help you to have a greater respect and appreciation for those who have been gifted by God as deep thinkers.
If you are more intellectual by nature, reading this work might help you both to better appreciate the gifts that God has given you while helping you to think more humbly about your own abilities. We cannot rely on intellect to make ourselves into anything. Yet, God demands that we work through our minds to love Christ appropriately.
I personally was encouraged by Piper’s work. Think helped me to remember that I cannot become mentally lazy in my faith. I would recommend this book to many different kinds of Christians, and especially to those who need to hear an argument that defeats anti-intellectual tendencies.
For this review, I listened to a free copy of the book as part of the Christian Audio reviewers program. The text was well-read and the quality was up to Christian Audio’s high standards.
- Good for anyone with a brain :)
I never tire of reading Piper books for two reasons:
1. They cause you to engage your mind and think hard about some big truths about God
2. They always leave with delight in God and encourage you to pursue and treasure Him more
Like his past books, this books does both, I would say ESPECIALLY the thinking part (given the title) but it causes you to want to treasure God with all your faculties, INCLUDING your mind.
The thesis of Piper's "Think" is that Christians should "embrace serious thinking as a means of loving God and people."
He starts off the book by giving you his backgroud (which will not be unfamiliar if you have read Desiring God) then giving props to Jonathan Edwards for thinking the way he does (which again, if you know Piper you already know.)
If your familiar with Piper I would skip down to chapter 3, it is a great chapter that deals with reading and how it is something we must give ourselves to, particularly since God gave us His Word in … well, WORDS!
Piper then goes into what our minds have to do with faith, it may sound obvious, but thinking and reading about it will give you more and more reasons to glorify God, in all you do, even things that may seem mundane since we do them all the time.
If one is particularly interested in the challenge from Relativism then chapters 7 and 8 are for you, in fact I hope that these two chapters would come out in a little pamphlet as that would be very handy in our postmodern society to share with people. Not only does Piper do a good job (and is far) at debunking Relativistic thinking, but also provides safeguards for keeping up drifting into that area. This was my favorite section of the book.
Piper then spends a lot of time doing good exegesis on passages regarding thinking and passages that often come up to support “anti-intellectual” Christianity. Of course Piper keeps the balance by not only encouraging us to be intellectual but to know that that is not the end... he encourages the thinkers that their discipline should make them more loving and he encourages the loving crowd to be harder thinkers.
All in all an excellent book, one I need to go through again.
I heard the audiobook version from ChristianAudio.com. It is done very professionally and the narrator did a good job of not putting you to sleep, epsecially when dealing with some heavy, mind-racking subjects.
- Great listen by a great preacher
Think was a great listen. The only thing that could have made it better is if John Piper had been the narrator (the person who reads it is also great). The book is working to show a biblical context for learning/thinking and trusting on the Holy Spirit to learn the things of God. John PIper argues (from scripture) that either extreme (relying only on one's ability to learn/study or only praying) is not the correct way. The correct way is to diligently study while trusting God to show you the correct path. He also shows the dangers of straying to far to either path.
The first couple of chapters describe Piper's own experience in how this book came to be and the remainder is biblical exposition to prove the view that he has. Any Piper fan will recognize that Jonathan Edwards has drastically helped shape his view.
The key scriptures he uses are 2 Timothy 2:7: 'think over what I say and the Lord will give you understanding in everything' and Proverbs 2:4-6.
He challenges readers to use their minds to come to a full knowledge of God, while trust God to guide their path. It's a short listen and well worth the time!
This review is made possible by the christianaudio.com's reviews program.