The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

Book Details

Discerning Reader Editorial Review

Reviewed 10/12/2010 by John Bird.

Recommended. A call for Christians to use their thought-lives to better know and glorify their Maker and Savior.

Our chief role in life is to love and worship God. But we can't love or worship Him if we don't know Him. How do we know Him? He reveals Himself through His word and His world. But, in order for us to see and know what He wants us to see and know, we have to think. That's the point of John Piper's book, Think: "That thinking is essential in knowing God."

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 you mind' means engaging all your powers of thought to know God as fully as possible in order to treasure him for all that he is worth.

What does Piper mean when he says, "think"? What are we to think about? Is Piper calling us to unguided thinking about whatever pops into our mind? No. His appeal is for thinking that is guided by reading good books, particularly the Bible: "That is mainly what I have in mind by thinking—working hard with our minds to figure out meaning from texts."

This doesn't necessarily mean we ought to read more. Lots of people read lots of books, including the Bible, without growing in understanding. And there are many reasons why, but the main culprit is a lack of thinking: "If we don't choose to think harder, we will settle for an adolescent level of understanding the rest of our lives."

Piper defends rigorous, biblical thinking from the most common foes. There are two chapters on relativism, or the belief that "No standard is valid for everyone." Piper shows that this thinking is so common that it is often unrecognized, describes "seven harmful and immoral things about it," and tells how to face it. The other main enemy of thought that he deals with comes from within the church: anti-intellectualism, which he divides further into pragmatism and subjectivism. Piper explains these attitudes, shows what's wrong them, and shows how the biblical texts used to support them are used wrongly.

So, what of all this thinking, learning, and scholarship? Doesn't it produce pride and quench the Spirit? Is Piper encouraging believers to build their minds but neglect their hearts? If we know anything about John Piper, we know that can't be the case. Throughout the book, he pleads for a balance of light and heat:

[This book] 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...All branches of learning exist ultimately for the purpose of knowing God, loving God, and loving man through Jesus...True knowing and true thinking produce not pride but love for God and love for people.

We need this book. One doesn't have to be in the Church long to see that. And no one better to write it than John Piper, a New Testament scholar and thinker with a burning passion for God's glory. Think is clear, convincing, helpful, and biblical. If you already think, this book will encourage you to keep thinking, help you think more clearly, and help to keep you from cold intellectualism and pride. If you are not a thinker, here's a great place to start.