The Life of the Mind

Piper on Think

A review of John Piper’s Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God.

John Piper is one of those Christians who has certainly applied his mind to the gospel and vice-versa over a lifetime of ministry as both pastor and scholar. In this typically Piper book, he enlists the help of Jonathan Edwards (naturally) and others, to encourage us to think more clearly and passionately and carefully as Christians. This is an easier book, in one way, than Bradley Green’s The Gospel and the Mind, but in another sense it is far harder to read because Piper is a man who always seems to want not just our complete attention but our heart, soul, mind, and strength as well.

The chapter on “unhelpful anti-intellectual impulses in our history” has some penetrating and insightful things to say to those who are suspicious of these cerebral pursuits (or entertain some doubts about their gospel-usefulness). It is better to think carefully and accurately than carelessly and inaccurately; and not thinking at all is no solution for thinking arrogantly.

Piper the preacher comes out in his constant recourse to the Bible to secure and illustrate his points which, incidentally, is a good way to persuade biblical but intellectually-suspicious people of the value of this endeavour. He is not aiming for more formal education or replacing humility and faith with “extensive learning”, but thinking carefully about how people can be sanctified in the truth (John 17:17). There are also good sections on the cross and on wisdom, but the burden of Piper’s book seems to be summed up near the end when he exhorts us to be avid Bible readers who take immense joy and delight in thinking God’s thoughts after him.

This review was first published in Churchman 127/1 (2013).

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