The heart is led by the mind. As much as this world would like to argue the opposite, that feelings and emotions drive our existence, what we think about, believe, and know is what leads our hearts. John Piper, in his excellent book Think, argues that “thinking is one of the important ways that we put the fuel of knowledge on the fires of worship and service to the world.” (15) Thinking is a process by which we give greater glory to God. Unlike other books on this topic, Piper writes in two ways that are often overlooked in this subject matter: 1) Devotionally and 2) Expositorally. This book is part devotional as Piper is constantly drawing the subject matter back to the practical side of how it effects our relationship with God. Piper also focuses his energy on two pericopes of scripture Proverbs 2 and 2 Timothy 2. Other books such as Henry Blamiers The Christian Mind, Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, or J.P Moreland’s Loving God with all Your Mind, argue the centrality of Christian thinking from a historical or philosophical prospective without the devotional thoughts and exegesis of scripture. Piper, echoing his preaching style, seamlessly weaves these two aspects into his book.
The book begins with Piper explaining his journey to being a “thoughtful” Christian. From his time in academia to his time in the pulpit, Piper briefly tells the story of how he began to understand the importance of thinking. The writing and preaching of Jonathan Edwards, a man whom Mark Noll called the greatest American Mind ever, had a profound effect on Piper during this period. During this first section of the book the aim and purpose of the book was clearly articulated. Simply put: “thinking is a God-given means to glorify him Greater.” (16)
The book is really a collection of short chapters that flesh out thinking as a habit of the Christian. He spends significant time on facing the challenges of Relativism and Anti-intellectualism. He does this, as I said earlier is rare in these types of books, by exegeting stories and confrontations from the life of Christ. Needless to say, Piper obliterates relativism, which he articulates probably the best I have ever read. He also makes great work of the “become like little children” passage that is oft quoted as a means of keeping up ignorant pretense.
All in all, Piper argues for a necessity of Christian thinking, augmented with Christian love and humility. He does make sure to properly define humility and love, not as tolerance and doubt, but as a posture towards the other person and God. This was a fantastic read, that was challenging and at the same time edifying.