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John Piper's Advice to Parents on Teaching Children 'Christian Hedonism'

John Piper's Advice to Parents on Teaching Children 'Christian Hedonism'

Theologian John Piper speaks during the MLK50 Conference in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 2018. | (Screenshot:

Bethlehem College & Seminary Chancellor and Desiring God founder John Piper believes the theological concept of "Christian Hedonism" should be taught to children.

The influential author and theologian is a well-known proponent of Christian Hedonism, which is defined as pursuing divine pleasure, which leads to a sense of great joy in the believer.

In an episode of "Ask Pastor John" posted on Wednesday, a French pastor inquired about how to teach children the theological concept.

"How can I best communicate Christian Hedonism to my children during our family worship? Their ages are 5 to 12. What should be my aims and goals? Any tips for a dad like me?" he asked.

Piper responded that he advised not using the term "hedonism," but rather teach children about the concept through "clarifying" and "exemplifying."

When it came to clarifying, Piper said it was important to "show that the Bible commands rejoicing," citing Philippians 4:4 ("Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice") as an example.

"Now the children see they are not only permitted to be happy; it is required that they be happy 'in the Lord,'" said Piper.

"And it will involve a lot of conversation about what 'in the Lord' means, as opposed to just being happy with his gifts."

Piper suggested the example of showing children "the difference between being happy that they have a mommy, and being happy that mommy gets them some breakfast."

"'Which would you rather have: Mommy or breakfast?' you can ask. They get this," added Piper, who regarding the practice of exemplifying Christian Hedonism, stressed the importance of children seeing their parents "enjoying God."

"God should feel joyful to these children, because he feels joyful to us — that is, he feels to us like a burden lifter, not a burden giver."

In a 2015 piece for Desiring God, Piper defined Christian Hedonism as "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

Piper identified various Christian intellectuals as well as his own father as being the ones who led him to embrace the concept.

"My father was probably the happiest man I have ever known, and yet he was filled and consumed with the glory of God," wrote Piper.

"So there was this both-and in my father's life that had to have a resolution or explanation some day. Abundant joy and total commitment to the glory of God had to go together in some way."

In their entry on the topic of "Christian Hedonism," the website Got Questions identified the theological concept as "biblical" and having "much to commend it."

"Christian hedonism is not the pursuit of our own happiness as the greatest good; rather, Christian hedonism is the pursuit of the highest good (God's glory), which will ultimately result in our greatest happiness," noted Got Questions.

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