God’s Passion for His Glory / The End for Which God Created the World by John Piper / Jonathan Edwards
This is a great introduction to the writings of Jonathan Edwards, and his bedrock vision of the glory of God. The first half of the book is by Piper, his eulogy to Edwards and the impact he has has had on Piper’s own life. But reading Edwards is hard work, and so Piper does several things here. First he primes the pump – he speaks so highly of Edwards effect on him, he exhorts you to the effort it takes to read Edwards, he tells you about Edward’s life so that you begin to know the man himself, he warns you that it will be difficult but promises that it will be worth it. Ultimately, Piper distills the beautiful vision of the glory of God that Edwards has seen and passed along to him, and passes it on to us in a form that is palatable to our modern minds and abilities. And then he points to Edwards and says, “Now if you really want a taste, read him.”
Second, after priming the pump, he gives us Edwards himself, The End For Which God Created the World. In doing so, he has done us a number of huge favors. He has rescued this work from the intimidating The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1, with its tiny print, double columns, narrow margins, and hundreds of pages of text. It is so nice to have a margin wide enough to write notes in! Not only that, but Piper has adjusted the format to make it easier to follow, adding paragraph headings, explanatory footnotes, definitions to obsolete words, punctuation where helpful, etc. And lastly, he has done the work that Adler describes in How to Read a Book, of mapping out our course for us ahead of time, explaining what Edwards is up to in each section of the work: philosophical definitions in the introduction, arguing from reason in chapter 1, and from Scripture in chapter 2. Piper highlights the most important sections, if you can’t quite make it through the most difficult parts, and lets you know which parts you really must read.
And then Edwards himself paints a picture of the glory of God from his brilliant and God besotted mind. I thought I know some things about the glory of God before I read this book. I realized I didn’t know much at all. Reading Edwards is like hauling theological timber. It is difficult, sometimes painful work, but the result is a solid theological foundation upon which to build the rest of your structure. Reading Edwards is like seeing for the first time.
One of the best books I have ever read.