This is really a multifaceted book. In Part One we have many of Pipers own thoughts, which he traces back to his study of Jonathan Edwards. In this section is also a brief biography of Edwards’ life that serves as a good primer for those who know little of Edwards except that he preached that “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon. Part Two is devoted to one of Edwards last and most philosophical books, The End for Which God Created the World, which itself comes in two parts: the philosophical and the scriptural. Not only is the full text of The End reprinted, but Piper’s notes of explanation, which, I might add, are sorely needed, accompany it. As a matter of fact I often found myself thinking that I was not so much reading Edwards as I was reading what Piper thinks Edwards was writing. Herein lies a great problem, Edwards is extremely obscure especially in the philosophical section of his book. So much so that what he is actually saying is open to a wide range of opinions. Piper has ferreted out what he believes Edward teaches and has modeled his ministry after his mentor. I am not altogether sure that Piper is correct in some of his interpretations, but as I considered this, it dawned on me that the big issue in the Christian life is not whether we understand Edwards but whether we understand the Bible. The study and interpretation of philosophy is surely the passion of some, but it is not mine. As I waded through this book I increasingly found myself longing just to open the Scriptures and study what God says.
Don’t get me wrong, Piper has much to say worth considering, and Edwards was a genius who the serious Bible student must not ignore. But I strongly disagree, and more so after reading this volume, with Piper’s recommendation that we (Bible students) find one Christian writer or theologian and dig deeply into his writings so that we become an expert of that writer. I believe we must be readers, and readers of the best stuff we can find, but I do not believe we should be disciples of any man, living or dead. May that type of dedication be reserved for Scripture.