Piper, John. Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. Crossway: Wheaton, 2011.
In chapter one, John Piper quotes R.C. Sproul as saying “we live in what may be the most anti-intellectual period in the history of Western civilization” (p. 29). It seems that evangelical culture in America does not disappoint in this regard. Our culture is good at entertainment, playing games, amusing ourselves; anything that distracts us from using our minds to the glory of God. Think was written to combat this phenomenon and help us engage our minds for the glory of God.
Practically, the book is a “plea to embrace serious thinking as a means of loving God and loving people” (p. 15). The main reason God has given us minds is to glorify Him, primarily by seeking Him and knowing Him and treasuring Him above all things. According to Piper, “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” (p. 19). Thinking is the means to this particular end.
There are many books written on the topic of thinking, some more historical, some more philosophical, some more vocational. However, Think is more pastoral. Its foundation is the Bible, which Piper presupposes as authoritative and able to instruct us as we use the minds God has given us. Naturally, Think has a practical aim, to promote love for God and love for man. It is written primarily for the Christian who desires to “know God better, love him more, and care about people” (p. 16).
Piper begins in chapter one with his own journey into the subject of thinking, briefly telling some of his own background, influences, and struggles. In chapter two he explains how one of America’s greatest theologians/philosophers, Johnathan Edwards, influenced his thoughts on the mind, especially his understanding on the relationship between thinking and feeling. The point of chapter three is that reading is essential to thinking. Chapters four and five explore how thinking is related to the process of coming to faith in Jesus. In chapter six Piper shifts to the more practical aim of making disciples and how thinking applies to this endeavor. In chapters seven and eight he engages the topic of relativism, which is the conviction that truth claims are not based on standards of assessment that are valid for everyone. In other words, truth can be “relative” for every person. According to relativism, objective truth cannot be known. In these chapters he explores what Jesus himself says about this phenomenon and then concludes that relativism itself is illogical and immoral.
In chapters nine through eleven Piper attempts to explain a particular anti-intellectualism that seems to be promoted by the Bible itself. He shows how two passages of Scripture (Luke 10:21; 1 Cor. 1:20) are used by some to justify an anti-intellectual position and why this view does not coincide with Scripture. Finally, in chapter thirteen Piper sums up his practical application by saying: “All thinking—all learning, all education, all schooling, formal or informal, simple or sophisticated—exists for the love of God and the love of man” (p. 167).
If you have read any of Piper’s books, you will see the same theme emerging: “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.” In Think, though not expressed in exactly the same words, the glory of God displayed in those who love and treasure Him shines forth on every page. Throughout the book, the reader is encouraged to think for the glory of God. At the same time the sovereignty of God in all things, especially as the giver of true knowledge, is communicated. I recommend this book to Christians as well as non-Christians seeking to understand a biblical view of thinking.