Preacher, author, and theologian John Piper addresses a contemporary issue in the Body of Christ’s view on intellectualism in his 2010 book. Titled Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, Piper’s work calls for Christians to embrace the kind of thinking Jesus encouraged: that is, a balance between deep thought and pursuing God-revealed truth. The problem, Piper notes, is that Christ followers tend to lean one of two ways on the spectrum. Either we elevate human intellectual achievement too highly, or we rely on mystic, spiritual experience for our revelation of God.
To illustrate his point, Piper’s book is both filled with appeals to logic and packed with Scripture. Using two principle verses, 2 Timothy 2:7 and Proverbs 2:1-6, he points out that finding truth results from two elements coupled together: our ardent seeking, and God’s benevolent giving of the truths we’re powerless to discover as finite beings. He concludes: education is not for our personal prowess or pride, but for the purpose of more fully knowing and worshipping God, as well as subsequently loving others.
This book is enjoyable to listen to: the audiobook is read by Wayne Shepherd, who does a superb job. I had it on 1.25X speed and still understood every word. Additionally, the chapters aren’t too long. Listening to Piper talk, I felt wonder at the concept of my mind and consciousness. He reminds readers what miracles our brains are: so finely-tuned and complex, these created machines of ours.
The only downside I would point out would be that, given the deep theological nature of his writing, the text at times began to feel dense, a bit repetitive, and long. For instance, Piper refutes several important arguments, which occupy most of his second half, and at times feel a bit distant from his main point. However, that could simply be my personal preference.
Overall, Think was beneficial and positively convicting for me. A lot of times, I can slip into the trap of feeling haughty because of my education level or experience with the Word. Piper reminded me that that’s not Christ’s intention for His followers at all. It was refreshing to hear him call out believers to be loving and embrace continued learning at the same time.
If you’re looking for an intellectual challenge, whether you’re a believer in Christ or not, I would encourage you to give Think a try. Do consider taking it in four-ish doses, which I didn’t, for your mental stamina’s sake. To whet your appetite a bit, here are some of my favorite quotes.
What’s your favorite spiritual or intellectual read?
I hope you guys have a good week.
“I would like to encourage you to think, but not be too impressed with yourself when you do.”
“If all the universe and everything in it exist by the design of an infinite personal God, to make his manifold glory known and loved, then to treat any subject without reverence to God’s glory is not scholarship, but insurrection.”
“We are meant to know that the Gospel is true and that we are saved—not cross our fingers.”
“Relativism cloaks pride with the guise of humility.”
“Not thinking is no solution for thinking arrogantly.”
[Quoted from Norval Geldenhuys]“The contrast pointed out by the Savior is not that between educated and uneducated, but between those who imagine themselves to be wise and sensible, and want to test the Gospel truths by their own intellects, and to pronounce judgment according to their self-formed ideas, and those who live under the profound impression that by their own insight and their own reasoning, they are utterly powerless to understand the truths of God, and to accept them.”
“Knowing and thinking exist for the sake of love, for the sake of building people up in faith.”