How Christian Hedonism Uniquely Denies the Necessity of the New Birth

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In a recent post, I mentioned theological reductionism. Christian hedonism is such an example. It basically reduces biblical teaching for the Christian to the pursuit of joy, which is self-centered and, at the very least, devalues the Biblical imperatives of Christian instruction regarding our training in righteousness. It is a gelded theology.

Dr. Piper is well known for the phrase, ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.’ I’ve recently read a book of his entitled God is the Gospel, which continues the promotion of his ‘Christian’ hedonism.

I would like to state unequivocally that I reject such teachings as absurd nonsense. Firstly, the multi-faceted doctrines of Christianity cannot be reduced to a single concept such as ‘joy’, and secondly, the personifying of the Gospel is equally absurd. God is not the Gospel. It makes for a catchy book title, but no matter that Piper clarifies what he means by that, the teaching of the book when taken in it’s entirety is still personifying the Gospel.

I could not agree with Dr. Peter Masters of the Metropolitan Tabernacle more when he says:

Dr Piper concentrates on seeing his delighting system in all the Bible, so that his recognition of the rules and principles which bear on other issues is seriously impaired.

Yet, there is further, greater, more subtle danger to Christian hedonism, and that is in it’s unique way of denying the necessity of the new birth. Sound far fetched? No, not at all. In new Calvinism, since ‘the centrality of the objective (read “outside of us”) Gospel only requires you to focus on the Gospel and, according to them, everything flows from that, including your obedience. Well, that’s simply wrong. It’s also unbiblical.

On January 4th, 2012, Dr. Piper posted this interesting, short article:

“What would the doctrines of grace sound like if every limb in that tree were coursing with the sap of Augustinian delight. (that is, Christian Hedonism)?

  • Total depravity is not just badness, but blindness to God’s beauty and deadness to the deepest joy.
  • Unconditional election means that the completeness of our joy in Jesus was planned for us before we ever existed as the overflow of God’s joy in the fellowship of the Trinity.
  • Limited atonement is the assurance that indestructible joy in God is infallibly secured for us by the blood of the covenant.
  • Irresistible grace is the commitment and power of God’s love to make sure we don’t hold on to suicidal pleasures, and to set us free by the sovereign power of superior delights.
  • Perseverance of the saints is the almighty work of God not to let us fall into the final bondage of inferior pleasures, but to keep us, through all affliction and suffering, for an inheritance of fullness of joy in his presence and pleasures at his right hand forevermore.”

What would the doctrines of grace sound like? I’ll answer that. Like complete unorthodox heresy.

Listen brethren.

Total depravity is regards the necessity of the new birth, not joy.

It means the depravity of man extends to the whole being of a man, that, being born in sin, he requires the new birth to be reconciled to God.

Unconditional Election regards the necessity of the new birth, not joy.

It means that God chose to save some not at all based on their own merit, and therefore the new birth is required to be saved.

Limited Atonement regards the necessity of the new birth, not joy.

Christ came for and with a purpose, and He accomplished it, to redeem those given to Him by the Father to be redeemed….not all mankind- and the new birth, regeneration, is required.

Irresistible Grace is about the necessity of the new birth, not joy.

Because God chose to save some, He does indeed! They will be saved. How? Regeneration, the new birth! New creatures!

Perseverance of the Saints also regards the necessity of the new birth, absolutely not ‘joy’.

Those whom God has chosen to be redeemed, will be, and they will continue in belief by the upholding power of the Holy Spirit of God Himself. They will sin, they will stumble, but they will persevere, and be preserved – and it will not be because they pursued the hedonistic joy of God.

Bottom line? You must be born again!

In this short article by Dr. Piper, the necessity of the new birth, as usual in Dr. Pipers teaching as well as that of new Calvinists in general, is conspicuously absent. It is standard, New Calvinism teaching. It is subtle. It sounds so pious and right, yet it is incredibly harmful to Christians in understanding the whole counsel of God.

Brethren, there is more to Christianity than the pursuit of joy in God. If you follow that path, you may indeed be ignorant of whether you are even saved at all. I cannot emphasize enough how dangerous New Calvinism is, and Christians should be running as fast and as far from these guys as possible.

You must be born again! John 3:3; 3:7. And the new birth is part of the Gospel that saves!