Review of Think: Life of the Mind and the Love of God (Part 1)


Think is a neat little book written by John Piper. As the title suggests, it is a book on thinking. More importantly, it is a book on how thinking is related to loving God – the great commandment that all Christians are called to fulfill.

In this book John Piper contends that thinking is something wholly indispensable for a Christian; but it is not an end in itself. It serves the larger purpose of loving God. And what is loving God? The essence of loving God is treasuring him above all things. All thinking is but a means to this end. This is the main thesis of the book.  The following sentence may capture the essence of the book

“loving God with the mind means that our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things. Treasuring God is the essence of loving him, and the mind serves this love by comprehending (imperfectly and partially, but truly) the truth and beauty and worth of the Treasure” (Page 19)

The strength of this book lies in exposition of biblical passages to support its central claim. He explains all the major concepts like thinking, loving God, conversion, relativism, anti-intellectualism etc. by explaining key texts in the Bible. And his expositions are simple yet insightful. This makes this book greatly accessible to layperson like me. Piper attributes his penchant for this method to him being a Bible-expositor. And you would come to expect that from someone who has preached the Bible for over 30 years. Additionally, he also mentions other books, ones which deal with the same subject but are different in their methods,  which will help the reader build upon the foundation he is laying for them (See Page 16, 42).

Another strength of the book is Piper’s careful and thorough refutation of claims that Bible discourages use of the mind. He devotes several chapters for this. Piper first deals with relativism – the idea that all truth is relative and hence not universally applicable – which comes more from the outside world, and then with anti-intellectualism which comes more from within the church. Piper asserts that the antidote to barren intellectualism is not anti-intellectualism but humble intellectualism before God. His case is well argued and very convincing. It’s a must-read for Christians who have developed an aversion to learning doctrine and think(!) that its unimportant to Christian life and practice.

Piper also touches upon Christian Scholarship and the use of the mind in other disciplines like Arts, Science etc. and how everything must ultimately serve the great end of loving God. Again, this section was very helpful. All students would derive great inspiration.

Having said this, I was not without a few complaints after reading this book. There are a few finer points where I was not persuaded. Nevertheless, since they do not detract from the central message, I thought I will handle them in a separate post.

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Venkatesh

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.

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