June 12, 2002
Dear Sandy Simpson,
Applause and compliments on your bold web-site, Deception In The Church. It is certainly something that is very much needed in this increasingly undiscerning world.
Recently I saw your posting concerning "Christian Hedonism". Permit me to assure you that the error of "Christian Hedonism" does have a stepping-stone relationship with The Third Wave movement.
My daughter, a long-time Christian, married a disciple of "Christian Hedonism" and herself converted to this new doctrine and practice. The church the couple now attends is heavily dedicated to spreading that erroneous message along with otherwise sound biblical teaching.
Some time ago my daughter called home, anxious and upset, because the youth in her church were beginning to leave in large numbers for the Benny Hinn ministries. It seems that "Christian Hedonism" teaches the overwhelming importance of relying on achieving emotional experience as the only true form of authentic worship. Having bought into this false doctrine, the youth quickly realized that their own church was only half-hearted in its devotion to the very doctrine of hedonism it was teaching. The result is that the youth left for ministries that are more wholly devoted to emotional worship (hedonism).
"Christian Hedonism", as taught by Dr. John Piper, contains many errors, including the following:
-- Salvation (eternal life) is dependent on becoming a "Christian Hedonist"
"Unless a man be born again into a Christian Hedonist he cannot see the Kingdom of God" - page 55, Desiring God, John Piper
-- True worship is only possible when the thinking mind is disengaged -- emptied
"We are transported (perhaps only for seconds) above the reasoning work of the mind and we experience feeling without reference to logical or practical implications. This is what keeps worship from being 'in vain'. Worship is authentic when affections for God arise in the heart as an end in themselves."- Chapter 3, Desiring God, John Piper
Opposition to this false doctrine of "Christian Hedonism" has cost me dearly. My daughter has decided to entrench herself more deeply in hedonism than ever before and now refuses to discuss spiritual matters of any kind with me because it does not bring her joy to do so (because I have a tendency to point out the error of these false doctrines)--this has cost me the ability to have true fellowship with my daughter. The leadership of the church I attend has also recently converted to "Christian Hedonism" and have excluded from teaching positions those of us who reject hedonism--this has cost me my lay ministry.
What I do know is that this is a popular and very subtle false doctrine that has had the effect of dividing churches and families into factions (I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, and I am of John Piper) and is driving young Christians into the arms of the Third Wave Movement in search of ever more fulfilling emotional worship experiences. For older Christians who have believed the false doctrine, it takes their eyes off of preaching the pure word of God and onto their pleasures and onto the need to endlessly preach and teach the justification of their new-found emotion-centric doctrine.
Is God truly glorified by this? Far from saving souls, "Christian Hedonism" with its all-important requirement to "pursue joy" over all other genuine commandments of God places many of its followers in peril of eternal judgment -- "Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. ... And those [seeds that fell] on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away." (Luke 8:11,13)