A mailbox review of John Piper’s Desiring God (Revised 25th Anniversary Edition):
Desiring God, for those not already familiar, is a treatise on the deep joy and delight found in the life of the Church. Since the time and writing of Immanuel Kant, believers have consistently struggled with the concern that taking pleasure in the worship and service of God may devalue those things as acts of obedience—that duty and delight are somehow incompatible. Piper assures us that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, says Piper, the Heidelberg Catechism’s formulation of “the chief end of man” (“to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”) could be restated as “to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”
In this revised edition of Desiring God, I encountered the writings of John Piper for the first time, even as he was revisiting his successful book after twenty-five years in print. Happily, I found it as earnest, approachable, and salient as the first readers must have a quarter of a century ago. Regarding that happy phenomenon, Piper has this to say in his preface to the new edition: “Things have changed….But, as personally astute and as culturally awake as I try to be, what seems plain to me is that the really important, deep, and lasting things in life have not changed. And therefore my commitment to the message of this book has not changed. The truth that I unfold here is my life.” It is, in fact, the ideal life of every Christian—finding true delight in every inch and acre of life within the divine life. In twenty-five years or twenty-five thousand, that doesn’t change.
Because the edition of Desiring God I’m reviewing is a revised reprinting, it is worth saying a few words about the apparatus and the printing itself. This twenty-fifth anniversary edition includes a new preface from Piper (quoted above) as well as helpful guides and discussion questions to aid in group study of the book. The single disappointment is the paper: thin, grayish, and pulpy, it seems unworthy of the milestone.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book gratis from the publisher, and was not required to give a favorable review.