7 thoughts on “Desiring God = Religous Affections”

  1. I think the issue of religious affections is not so much a matter of necessity as it is emphasis. The necessity of desiring God is nonnegotiable. Both Edwards and Piper have honestly and biblically supported this. We are all grateful for it. However, the whole counsel of God includes more than Christian Hedonism. The Bible’s teaching on salvation and sanctification also extend beyond affections. Here are a couple of thoughts the emphasis of Christian Hedonism:It’s probably not wrong for Christian Hedonism to be a defining characteristic of John Piper’s ministry, but many ministries model themselves too much after desiringgod.org to the neglect of other theology. Here’s a different example: Ken Ham is one of the best resources on Genesis, but I wouldn’t want him as the pastor of my church. Christian Hedonism, like Creationism may be vital, even foundational, but neither is the consummate teaching of Scripture.An unbalanced emphasis on any doctrine also tends to leads eisegetical errors and the neglect of authorial intent. We’ve all heard points of Arminianism or Calvinism read into about every passage imaginable. “But the doctrine is implicit the text,” one might answer. Even if it is, we mustfirst properly handle the author’s intended meaning before we step to implicit theology. If I have any bone to pick with Piper’s preaching personally it would be this. He so masterfully handles the implicit theology that he doesn’t do justice to the author’s intended message. I certainly have a lot to learn so that criticism is hesitant, “but you don’t have to be a chef to taste a problem with the soup.”Are religious affections important? Absolutely. Is their current theological emphasis important? I think so. Is possible to be unbalanced even with a good thing? AbsolutelyMatt, good prompt.

  2. Zach, to play the devils advocate… how can the whole of the law and the prophets be summed up in the “love yours” if it be a principle and not the principle? I’m really trying to search through this because I know personally that Jonathan Edwards teaching has really revolutionized the way that I look at my relationship with God and my responsibility as a Christian. I no longer think in terms of do and don’ts but in terms of heart condition. For me it has become the defining principle for ill or for good. Logically I think I can support the idea of it being the principle, and scripturally it’s pretty strong… Isn’t that what God wanted from the nation of Israel all along? Doesn’t that square with the whole message of scripture? What is “giving God glory” if not loving him (with true affection – ie. to JP enjoying God supremely)? Anyway, I think this is a profitable discussion… Thanks for your thought.

  3. My first post affirms the necessity of religious affections but warns that an unbalanced emphasis on it often neglects other theology and tends affect our hermeneutics. These two warnings are not limited to Christian Hedonism, but apply to any theological emphasis. I also affirm the importance of religious affections. I even agree that it is foundational. But it is not “the consummate teaching of Scripture.” To put in homiletical terms, the proposition to every sermon is not, “God wants you to glorify him by enjoying him and here are three reasons why.”To use the creation analogy, if you remove literal creationism theological walls (not springs) will crumble. Salvation by Christ is absolutely related to the creation of the perfect world and fall of Adam. I unfortunately have to go now…

  4. I’d love to answer your question, but I’m not sure that I follow the shift from the necessity of religious affection (as we’ve been calling it) to its role in sanctifcation. If you have time, will you please bridge the two for me?

  5. I’m sorry to jump into this conversation, but I wanted to point out something. I guess I think that “religious affection” is important to sanctification because it is the best motivation for spiritual growth/service/sacrifice…ie. I love/serve/continue in my Christian life because He loved me. In the previous generations represented in my church there seems to be a high priority on “duty” rather than love as a motivational force in sanctification/the spiritual journey. I think desire for Christ ought to be our primary motivation for growth or service. On the other hand, there are several other motivations mentioned in the Bible that make me realize that a heart of love for God may not be the only Scriptural motivation for sanctification. Paul speaks of rewards, Solomon speaks of duty, several authors speak of fear of judgment/loss. I’ve thought of this often lately as I try to motivate my kids to obey God. I want them to obey God because His Word commands it. I want them to obey because they love God. I want them to obey because it will ultimately make them happy. I want them to obey because it pleases God and makes Him happy. I want them to obey because they will be blessed for doing so. I want them to obey God because there are consequences for not doing so. It’s pretty complex, but I think a heart for God must lie at the very core.

  6. Salvation is also a multi-faceted term. If we described it simply in terms of redemption or justification we would fail to give salvation justice. Instead, we talk of justification, redemption, election, adoption, regeneration, and the list goes on. Those divisions help us comprehend with greater clarity the greatness of salvation, but we may never know how each relates to the other this side of heaven. Maybe that applies, maybe that doesn’t. Amy somed many of my thoughts well.

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