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on October 5, 2010
Those of you who have read anything by John Piper before know that you're in for a spiritual delight. Those of you who haven't are about to discover a delight in God greater than you had previously imagined! "Think" is a very readable and yet profound book that should be read by every thinking (or unthinking!) Christian. I plan on using portions of it with my high school Apologetics class. It's amazing how many books are written on how to use the soul and even the body - and how few are written on how to use the mind to love God and man. This is one of those rare and invaluable books.

The thesis and plea of Piper's "Think" is that Christians should "embrace serious thinking as a means of loving God and people." It's not exactly the thesis or plea you'd expect to hear from a Christian book on the mind, which would usually be something more like, "Oh no, the really brilliant atheists have captured the universities and the minds of our generation so we'd better find some even more brilliant Christians to outsmart and outthink them."

But Piper refuses to play this kind of mind game, in which the mind is seen as a largely academic and theoretical kind of faculty. Instead, Piper returns to his first love, which is the glory of God, especially as communicated through the theology of Jonathan Edwards. For Piper, thinking is not an end to itself and not primarily to do battle with atheistic thinking. Thinking is properly a whole person activity that leads us to fulfill the greatest commandment by loving God and loving neighbor. It is not a choice between head and heart for Piper, but a choice to employ both head and heart to know and love God and man.

Piper masterfully unfolds his plea for Christians to think in 13 chapters plus an Introduction. Along the way, Piper gives a lot of food for thought and has crystallized some of his best and most beneficial thoughts into insightful sentences:

Introduction - In the Introduction, Piper makes his plea to embrace thinking as a means of loving God and man and states that "the main reason God gives us minds is that we might seek out and find all the reasons that exist for treasuring him in all things and above all things."

Chapter 1 - My Introduction - is an autobiographical account of how Piper's passion to preach and be a pastor was ignited while thinking about Romans 9 for a book he was writing.

Chapter 2 - Deep Help from a Dead Friend - explores the idea that it is God's nature as the Trinity that is the foundation for human nature as head and heart, thinking and feeling, knowing and loving. He quotes Jonathan Edwards, who said, "God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart."

Chapter 3 - Reading as Thinking - passionately presents reading as a most precious and amazing activity.

Chapter 4 - Mental Adultery is No Escape - provocatively argues that to not use the mind to know and glorify God is not only "mental adultery" but also "adulterous irrationality."

Chapter 5 - Rational Gospel/ Spiritual Light - finds Piper persuading the reader that the reason faith is what saves us is that (following the thought of J. Gresham Machen) faith means receiving something, not doing something or even being something. But in order to receive God by faith the mind must come to know God through the gospel and value Him (a kind of thinking) as the soul's and mind's greatest treasure.

Chapter 6 - Treasuring God with All Your Mind - does just what you think it will do.

Chapters 7 and 8 - both deal with Facing the Challenge of Relativism.

Chapter 9-11 - all deal with Facing the Challenge of Anti-intellectualism. Sadly, many American Christians don't see the need to think or use their minds because their religion is an emotional one. They might agree with Billy Sunday who said, "If I had a million dollars I'd give $999,999 to the church and $1 to education" or with D.L. Moody who said, "My theology! I didn't know I had any. I wish you would tell me what my theology is." Sadly (though Piper doesn't deal with this), most Christian Americans today have a very shallow theology but think they know they've worshiped God because they can feel it.

Chapter 12 - The Knowledge that Loves - finds Piper returning to his theme that "true knowing loves people" and "true knowing loves God."

Chapter 13 - All Scholarship is for the Love of God and Man - is yet another corrective Piper presents to the idea that scholarship is dry, esoteric, and removed from life.

Chapter 14 - Conclusion: A Final Plea. This may be the most important chapter of all because in it Piper challenges 2 groups of thinkers to think more lovingly. His plea to those who don't like to think is to: be thankful for thinkers, respect those who serve you by thinking, pray for vulnerable thinkers, avoid wrongheaded thinking, and read your Bible with joy. His plea to those who like to think is to: think consciously for the glory of Christ; become like children; enjoy the Word of God like gold and honey; and think for the sake of love.

"Think" is a thoughtful and soulful book that should be widely read. Pastors, professors, teachers, students, parents, and homeschoolers would benefit immensely from this brief but brilliant book. In fact, I can't think of a single category of Christian reader who wouldn't benefit from it. Highly recommended!
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on April 4, 2011
After finishing this book, I will say that I have definitely been challenged in the way I use my mind. When we consider the Lord's command in Matthew 22:36-39, it ought to make us pause to evaluate ourselves closely. The account goes like this:

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Every thought, every gift, every word spoken or written, every good deed, ought to be evaluated in light of these verses. This calls us not to casual reflection, but to long and serious reflection. Part of that evaluation, according to this account is to evaluate the way we use our minds. There are two other passages that stand out as relevant in this effort:

(Luke 10:21) In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

(1 Cor. 1:20) Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

In both passages, we are called to have a faith that is full of trust. Just as a young child implicitly trusts in their father or mother, so we too are called to trust in the Lord. We are not to have an attitude of pride, but of humility. This applies to our knowledge as well. Since God reveals himself to the humble child, we ought to humble ourselves before our Father. The so-called wise of this world will in the end be fools. Prideful knowledge will in the end lead to foolishness. To love God with our mind means to have a humble attitude in what we know. There is always more to learn. We need to be open to the correction of the Holy Spirit. God can use our knowledge to mold our character.

I will end with a quote from the book's foreward (Mark A. Noll) that I think encapsulates the main thrust of this book.

"The real life payoff from carefully examining such passages could hardly be more timely. Much in contemporary American life promotes sloppy thinking for human self-promotion. Much in conservative Christian churches promotes suspicion of modern learning or the use of reactionary emotion to replace thinking. Piper sets out the biblical alternative: thinking (as clearly as possible) linked with the affections (treasuring God as highest good); respect for the intellect with caution against intellectual pride; and commitment to diligent study with total reliance on God's grace. For believers, this is the way to go; for unbelievers, this is the way to life."

Piper encourages us to think, and to think well. There is no substitute for doing the hard work in this area. The end result will be as Paul writes in Romans 12:1-2:

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
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on March 10, 2011
I don't know what it is about John Piper - but I absolutely love his writings. In this book you get a strong sense of his passion towards this topic. I don't think anyone is going to argue with Pastor Piper's premise in this book - namely that rational thought and the ability to think and reason is very important in being able to gloryify God. A couple of highligts for me - is the push to read the scripture. Piper does an outstanding job in explaining why reading is thinking and why (weather you like it or not) Christians have to be willing to read the Bible in order to know God. I also liked Piper's analogy of how the Holy Spirit works in evengelism and in God revealing Himself through preaching and sharing the gospel - namely the pastor and the message are the wires and the power of God is the electricity in divine revelation. Really really good stuff - this is one of his better books - and they all are good.
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on June 27, 2011
I really enjoy John Piper as an author and a teacher, this book shows some of his talent. I found the font half of the book to be extremely interesting, but as the book went on I grew more and more excited for the end. John Piper did a wonderful job explaining the importance of critical thinking and using the christian brain. This is the perfect book for someone who comes from unintellectual form of Christianity where critical thinking, theology or science is regarded as distractions that will get us confused. I found the book extremely redundant, one of those books where you are hammered for 3 chapters on the same topic. Great book, totally agree with the thinking behind it, ideas were fleshed out a little further than I enjoyed enduring.
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on April 30, 2011
Evangelical Christianity has gotten a well-deserved reputation for anti-intellectualism. One has only to watch most TV evangelicals to see this in action. Partly to counteract this anti-intellectualism in the Christian faith, Piper explains in almost exegetical fashion, how Christians must use their minds far more than they do. We are commanded in Scripture to use our minds, to think, to ponder, to discern, to understand. But Piper is also careful to teach the reader how to obey the Biblical commands to rely completely on God's wisdom and discernment instead of our own. Piper has managed to give us his "both-and" method of obeying both commands (THINK! AND trust God) at once without overbalancing toward our own judgments and without presenting an antinomy. In short, Piper biblically roadmaps a thinking, intellectual pathway to obeying God completely while explaining how the mind must first process information in order to do that. This is an exceptional piece of work, a quantum leap from well-meaning but dangerous Christian proclamations that one need not think, just obey. Piper says we cannot properly obey God unless the mind is first deeply involved in the process of understanding Who it is we obey and what God is asking us to obey. Piper's book is another in a recent and welcome line of books explaining why Christianity really is (and should be) a rational, intellectual faith, not a blind leap in the dark. The book is not easy reading for the layperson or for those used to "lite" Christianity, but it is well worth the time and effort.
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on October 22, 2010
A good friend of mine made a very important statement a number of years ago: "We need to learn to worship God with the mind." Unfortunately, his statement was met with harsh criticism. The complaint reflected an all too common anti-intellectual approach that has gripped the church for decades. R.C. Sproul has rightly stated, "We live in what may be the most anti-intellectual period in the history of Western civilization."

Dr. John Piper's newest book, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God is a timely response to the rampant anti-intellectualism that lurks in the evangelical mind and has found lodging in many churches. His chief aim: "To encourage serious, faithful, humble thinking that leads to the true knowledge of God, which leads to loving him, which overflows in loving others." Ultimately, Piper argues that "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."

Piper carefully forges a path between anti-intellectualism and over-intellectualism. Both are problematic. The path that the author encourages is bolstered by two key passages:

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything (2 Tim. 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 (Prov. 2:1-6).

The author constructs a foundation for his argument that is anchored in the Trinitarian nature of God. He appeals to Jonathan Edwards' insight into God's "intra-Trinitarian" glory. Edwards writes, "God is glorified not only by His glory being seen, but by its being rejoiced in." So image-bearers must glorify God with both mind and heart. Piper repeatedly reminds readers that this is not an either-or proposition. It is a "both-and plea" for "the mind is mainly the servant of the heart. That is, the mind serves to know the truth that fuels the fires of the heart."

Piper challenges Christ-followers to see the correlation between reading and thinking. "Thinking" is described as "working hard with our minds to figure out meaning from texts." He challenges readers to fire questions at a given passage.

The author shows how people come to faith via thinking. It is a tricky but biblical sell because the unregenerate heart is stony and hard. The unconverted heart is depraved and darkened. And Piper reminds readers that "the corruption of our hearts is the deepest root of our irrationality."

Nevertheless, 2 Timothy 2:7 instructs us to "think." So Piper beautifully demonstrates the important role of reason and the necessity of God's role in "making the mind able to see and embrace truth." Again, this is not an either-or proposition. We think - The Holy Spirit illuminates.

Chapter five continues to outline the tension by explaining the rational Gospel and spiritual light. Piper utilizes 2 Cor. 4:4-6 to drive home the biblical idea that we come to faith through thinking, yet the "decisive ground of saving faith is God's gift of sight to the eyes of the heart."

Jesus calls us to love him with our mind. Piper explains that "our thinking should be wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things."

Chapters seven and eight prove to be the most helpful chapters in the book. Here Piper deals a deadly blow to the ever-popular philosophy of relativism. He carefully defines relativism and describes the motive behind the worldview: "People don't embrace relativism because it is philosophically satisfying. They embrace it because it is physically and emotionally gratifying. It provides the cover they need at key moments in their lives to do what they want without intrusion from absolutes."

The assault on relativism continues as Piper lays bare the fundamental flaws:

* Relativism commits treason
* Relativism cultivates duplicity
* Relativism often conceals doctrinal defection
* Relativism cloaks greed with flattery
* Relativism cloaks pride with the guise of humility
* Relativism enslaves people
* Relativism eventually leads to totalitarianism

The emperor's filthy garment is systematically removed, leaving his relativistic worldview exposed and defeated.

The author encourages readers to face the uphill challenge of anti-intellectualism by thinking God's thoughts after him and pursue knowledge as a treasure - all with the ultimate goal of loving God and loving people. This is a work that demands serious thought but the payoff is well worth it.

Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God is thoughtful, biblical and balanced. It is an invitation to a lifelong pursuit. It is a breath of fresh air. It cuts through the postmodern fog of uncertainty and leads the reader to a new and refreshing vista; a vista that promises fullness of joy and pleasures at God's right hand (Ps. 16:11).

5 stars
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on December 8, 2016
A great critique of a major problem in modern evangelicalism and a practical help for addressing it. The content will fly in the face of much of mainstream Christianity which is exactly what we need. Believing is not enough when what you believe is either wrong, incomplete, or both. Dr. Piper urges us to consider all that the Bible claims and use that understanding to draw our hearts to true worship and love.
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on March 27, 2015
There is a tension between loving God and thinking about Him. Some Christians favor the emotional side of our relationship with God. Others disdain the emotional in favor of the intellectual. This book has helped me to realize that I can love God more, and I can exercise my mind to consider Him and His Word. I can love Him with all my heart, and still analyze Him with all my mind. He can take it. So can I. This book helps me understand more clearly how I can--indeed, MUST-- make this a reality in my life. I found the book challenging, and enlightening--like most of Piper's books. I urge you to read it!
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on September 12, 2015
I literally devoured this book. Piper clearly and logically puts forward a Scripture-driven approach for understanding the role of our minds. Refuting the dual errors of anti-intellectualism and over-intellectualism he presents thinking in its proper context - a vital servant to aid our souls in cherishing Christ to the highest extent. Highly recommended.
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on June 14, 2011
John Piper is as solid a teacher of God's Word as we have actively ministering today. This book is a quick and to the point work that will help a student focus on how to best intake what they read. He includes several texts that provide a starting point showing how to approach material with the purpose of mining the intent of the author. The appendix portion contains a very helpful sermon transcript that helps to flesh out the vision of the book in a practical sense and a short essay on the importance of truly observing and its importance in mastering a subject.

Unrelated to content but of importance to Kindle readers are the many spacing errors with the formatting of the text that will hopefully be corrected in a future edition.
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