Friday, March 25, 2016

Augustine on Enjoying God

In our times, John Piper is famous for advancing what he calls “Christian Hedonism,” that is, the biblical call to enjoy God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. I once asked Pastor John, “If this point of view is indeed biblical, why did it take so long for someone to articulate it?” His answer was that many others had articulated it, most important of whom for him was Jonathan Edwards. But even Jonathan Edwards was far from the first to point believers in this direction. Carefully consider the words of Augustine from his classic fifth-century work, On Christian Doctrine. It’s a little hard to follow but worth the effort. 

“The true objects of enjoyment, then, are the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, who are at the same time the Trinity, one Being, supreme above all, and common to all who enjoy Him, if He is an object, and not rather the cause of all objects, or indeed even if He is the cause of all. For it is not easy to find a name that will suitably express so great excellence, unless it is better to speak in this way: The Trinity, one God, of whom are all things, through whom are all things, in whom are all things. Thus the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and each of these by Himself, is God, and at the same time they are all one God; and each of them by Himself is a complete substance, and yet they are all one substance. The Father is not the Son nor the Holy Spirit; the Son is not the Father nor the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is not the Father nor the Son; but the Father is only Father, the Son is only Son, and the Holy Spirit is only Holy Spirit. To all three belong the same eternity, the same unchangeableness, the same majesty, the same power. In the Father is unity, in the Son equality, in the Holy Spirit the harmony of unity and equality; and these three attributes are all one because of the Father, all equal because of the Son, and all harmonious because of the Holy Spirit” (On Christian Doctrine, Book 1, Chapter 5).

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