John Piper is a very smart man. This is extremely evident in all of his books. The sentence structure is complex and Piper makes arguments that leaves the average person scratching his head in bewilderment. Dr. Piper also knows his Bible intimately. He has probably forgotten more of the Bible than I will ever know.
I recently had the opportunity to read The Pleasures of God by Piper. In this book, Piper makes the argument that God takes pleasure in a number of things, including His Son, His creation, and in the prayers of the righteous, among other things. The chief argument of the book, however, is that God takes pleasure in His own glory because to take glory in anything else would be considered idolatry. Because God is the Ultimate, for Him to find His pleasure and enjoyment in anything else would be idolatry.
While I very much enjoy learning from Dr. Piper and his teaching has had a profound influence on me and others that I have learned from, I do have issue with his belief in election. I will readily concede that there are verses in Scripture that would imply that some individuals are chosen for salvation and others were created for destruction. However, I do claim to be smart enough to understand how this works. I think it is a beautiful idea that God would choose me, but I have a difficult understanding why some folks would be made for the simple purpose of sending them to Hell.
The entire book is not about this topic, but because it is such a central part of Piper’s belief system, it tends to work its way into all that he does. For this reason, I had a very hard time working through the book quickly. I often put the book down to ponder what I read or because I was unhappy at some of the implications.
For those readers who are of Piper’s stripe of theology, this will be a very enjoyable book. It portrays our God (backed up with Scripture) as a glorious God worthy of our praise. For those who believe a little differently, this book will be a challenge. That being said, there is a lot that can be learned and gleaned from reading The Pleasures of God. One thing I left with was a conviction to learn my Bible even more. I want to be able to recall the passages with the relative ease that Dr. Piper demonstrates.