The compulsory pursuit of joy in Christian Hedonism = compounded mind control for victims of abuse
John Piper’s Christian hedonism has added an extra requirement to saving faith: the requirement of right affection, right emotion.
The pursuit of joy in God is not optional. It is not an “extra” that a person might grow into after he comes to faith. Until your heart has hit upon this pursuit, your ‘faith’ cannot please God. It is not saving faith.”
— p. 69, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, Multnomah 2003.
But Scripture says, Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. It does not say, “Abraham believed God and pursued joy in God and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
Piper has added to scripture, and that, dear friends, is very very dangerous.
All single-dominant-issue schemes tend to be blind to individual matters of deep concern. Their major preoccupation creates a kind of tunnel vision, and perception fails.
— Dr Peter Masters, Christian Hedonism — Is it Right?
By making the pursuit of joy essential to saving faith, Piper lays heavy burdens on people about their emotions.
When the pursuit of joy in God is urged on the victim of domestic abuse simultaneously with Piper’s no-divorce teaching, the victim is cow-prodded into a corner and made to lie on a bed of nails while trying to artificially crank up the emotion of delight in God— or at least the pursuit of it. This can only be done by a self-willed mind control whereby the victim tries to corral her thoughts and emotions to follow certain paths, such as ‘having faith in future grace’ (one of Piper’s favorite expressions).
The spiritual heaviness she feels because of the abuser’s sins is not seen as a natural vexation with evil and a healthy refusal to be content with living in proximity to the wicked, as Lot’s vexation was described by the Apostle Peter —
Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless, for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard (2 Peter 2:7-8 NIV)
— rather, she must urge herself to repent for her coldness of heart. By trying to conform herself to Piper’s theology, she sees herself not as someone who is being abused, but as a dreadful sinner because despite all her efforts her pursuit of joy in God has been in vain.
An insight into John Piper’s marriage (in his own words) — and a further lesson in mind control
When the person himself (or herself) has written publicly about their marriage, it is reasonable to quote their words. Here are some interesting words from Piper about his marriage. Emphasis (bolding of text) has been added by me. The excerpt comes from the article What God Requires Christ Provides (2004) by Justin Taylor and John Piper.
. . . why would a pressured pastor . . . devote time and energy to the controversy over the imputation of Christ’s righteousness? . . . I will explain why I have taken up this issue. My reasons are personal, but in fact they apply to all who wish to glorify Christ, contend for the faith, and edify the saints.
For the Sake of My Family: Marriage
I have a family to care for. My marriage must survive and thrive for the good of our children and the glory of Christ. God designed marriage to display the holy mercy of Christ and the happy submission of his church (see Eph. 5:21-25). Here the doctrine of justification by faith and the imputed righteousness of Christ can be a great marriage saver and sweetener.
Marriage seems almost impossible at times because both partners feel so self-justified in their expectations that are not being fulfilled. There is a horrible emotional dead end in the words, “But it’s just plain wrong for you to act that way,” followed by “That’s your perfectionistic perspective” or “Do you think you do everything right?” or by hopeless, resigned silence. The cycle of self-justified self-pity and anger can seem unbreakable.
But what if one or both partners becomes overwhelmed with the truth of justification by faith alone—and especially with the truth that in Christ Jesus God credits me, for Christ’s sake, as fulfilling all of his expectations? What happens if this doctrine so masters our souls that we begin to bend it from the vertical to the horizontal and apply it to our marriages? In our own imperfect efforts in this regard, there have been breakthroughs that seemed at times impossible. It is possible, for Christ’s sake, simply to say, “I will no longer think merely in terms of whether my expectations are met in practice. I will, for Christ’s sake, regard you the way God regards me—complete and accepted in Christ— and thus to be helped and blessed and nurtured and cherished, even if, in practice, you fail.” I know my wife treats me this way. And surely this is part of what Paul calls for when he says that we should forgive “one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). There is more healing for marriage in the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness than many of us have begun to discover. . . .
Now, in a healthy Christian marriage it may indeed be beneficial for a spouse to not think about whether the other spouse is meeting their expectations, but rather, to try to regard their partner the way God does: as complete and accepted in Christ, and thus to be helped and blessed and nurtured and cherished, even if, in practice, that person fails.
However, take this philosophy and apply it to someone who is being abused by their spouse and what you have is a recipe for inexorable misery for the abused person. There is no room for that abused person to think about how grievously their partner is failing on their side of the bargain. There is no room for complaint by the victim, and no room for the victim to even privately feel her own pain and fear. After all, The Wizard of Oz Piper or his lookalikes are telling her to regard her husband (her wicked abuser) as God regards him [cue the violins].
And of course, there is no room or invitation for her to consider whether her husband is actually a believer in the Gospel of Christ. No invitation for her to think about how God regards non-believers, and how He holds them accountable for their sins because they are not under the blood of Christ. No room for her to think about any of that at all: just a guilting thought-blocking recipe that will keep her in the fog and misery of being controlled by that abuser.
The inversion of truth and denial of reality produced by this spiritual captivity can be profound. At this blog we talk about living in the fog of domestic abuse. Piper’s theological scheme thickens the fog to a pea-souper for victims of abuse.