inREVIEW — Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, by John Piper

by Lee Buford on October 24, 2010

If you are picking up John Piper’s new book, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, I can sum up what you can be prepared for in four words: It makes you think!

That’s not intended as a play on words; however, for those of you who’ve read anything by Piper before, you will certainly be familiar with the depth of teaching and knowledge found herein. In fact I admit with much sincerity and humility that I found myself, on more than one occasion, feeling grossly inadequate to comprehend some of his points. You will likely go back and re-read several parts along the way for clarification and understanding. And, if you’re like me, I “think” you will see that’s the point of the book…that we would think about the importance of thinking and how it impacts our view and worship of God. In that regard you will not be disappointed.

I highly recommend you read it, and here’s why…

Piper’s main point is that all learning and thinking “exist ultimately for the purposes of knowing God, loving God, and loving man through Jesus Christ.” And while there are two major camps of thinkers (those who love to and those who don’t), he masterfully presents a case targeted at all of us. As a Christian, wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of the importance of thinking, Piper presents a case that appeals to you.

As you would expect from anything authored by John Piper, the book is packed full of Scripture, teaching, and exhortation of biblical truths. In fact, if you are a pastor I would suggest to you that there is a wonderful sermon series in this book…one that your congregation needs to hear.

His teaching and unpacking of Scripture centers on two key passages:

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
– 2 Timothy 2:7 – ESV

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
– Proverbs 2:1-6 – ESV

The layout of the book is also critical to the ultimate success I believe Piper achieves in reaching a wide variety of readers, not just the “highly-intellectual” folks in the crowd. The chapters are broken up as follows:

  • Clarifying the Aim of the Book
  • Clarifying the Meaning of Thinking
  • Coming to Faith through Thinking
  • Clarifying the Meaning of Loving God
  • Facing the Challenge of Relativism
  • Facing the Challenge of Anit-intellectualism
  • Finding a Humble Way of Knowing
  • Encouraging Thinkers and Non-thinkers

Piper also includes an excellent look at the “Biblical Foundations for Bethlehem College and Seminary” in the first of two appendices at the end. These sections are well-worth the read and should not be overlooked.

Finally, I would submit to you that the worst thing any writer can do is leave his or her reader without a clear conclusion and/or an understandable action plan for what to do with the information he or she has just consumed. This is one major area in which Piper excels with this book. In the Conclusion he presents what he so aptly refers to as a “plea” to reject the either-or thinking of the two groups, one of which we all fall into: those who love to think and those who don’t. Here is the outline of his pleas for each:

Those Who Don’t Love to Think

  • Be Thankful for Thinkers
  • Respect Those Who Serve You with Thinking
  • Pray for the Vulnerable Thinkers
  • Avoid Wrongheaded Thinking
  • Read Your Bible with Joy

Those Who Love to Think

  • Think Consciously for the Glory of Christ
  • Become Like Children
  • Enjoy the Word of God Like Gold and Honey
  • Think for the Sake of Love

In closing I want to share with you the final paragraph of this chapter, which sums up Piper’s position and, I believe, serves as great encouragement and motivation for each of us:

“We think, and the Lord gives understanding. We seek it like silver; the Lord gives it. Not either-or. Both-and. Our thinking does not replace God’s grace. It is a gift of grace and the pathway to more and more.” 

Read it. Digest it. And let me know what you think.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway Books as part of their Reviewer Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: