Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Van Til as a Christian Hedonist

Many that know me know that I am a huge John Piper fan. I think that he is one of the most balanced pastor/theologians that there are today. It is easy for Christians to veer into one of two camps. Often times a Christian is concerned with either the objective aspects of the Christian faith (like doctrines & orthodoxy) to the expense of the subjective aspects (holiness, sanctification, godliness and the like) or the disproportion is the other way around, emphasizing the subjective aspects to the minimization of the objective. The choices are presented as either feelings or facticity. By themselves both present an equal danger. To choose one without the other is to deny the robustness of the Christian faith. It is unhealthy. So Christian beware.
John Piper represents a balanced position in that he emphasizes both aspects. That is exactly what Christians need to do.Furthermore Piper's Christian Hedonism (get over the name) presents an aspect of the Christian life that many people have not considered. That aspect being the fact that happiness and pleasure in doing good is an essential part of a good act. In other words if pleasure is absent, then so also is the moral good. One should not interpret the pleasure that I am speaking of in a shallow sense that excludes pain and toil.
Anyhow, not only am I a John Piper fan but I am also a Cornelius Van Til fan. He was an apologetics professor at Westminster Theological Seminary for many years. He is of a previous generation to Piper. Yet he is a Christian Hedonist himself! Anyhow consider the following quotes:

"Originally there could not possibly be any contrast between seeking happiness and seeking righteousness in the kingdom of God. A man could not possibly wish for happiness unless he also wished for righteousness. It is only after the entrance of sin that these ideas have been separated. The members of the kingdom would not think of the one without also thinking of the other."

"For the member of the kingdom there are no ulterior motives. Their motives with the realization of the kingdom itself is the glory of God. Their motive with their own self-realization is the glory of God. Their motive in seeking their own happiness is the glory of God. None of these matters can be seperated. Not one of them can be antithetical to another. He that seeks righteousness seeks to realize himself, seeks the good will, seeks happiness, seeks usefulness, seeks rewards, seeks the kingdom of God, and seeks God himself."

These quotes are taken from Van Til's book "Christian Theistic Ethics."

Written By Stephen Stanford

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