The past few years of John Piper’s ministry have been focused intensely on writing. We have seen multiple books coming out bearing Piper’s name, and that’s a good thing. As someone who owns about a dozen of Piper’s books, I must say that if you’ve read one of them, you have a good idea about the gist of all of them. But that does not mean these new volumes have nothing to offer, or that they are not worth reading. A great example is one of Piper’s newest, Living in the Light.
Living in the Light focuses intensely on arguably the three most significant aspects of cultural values: money, sex, and power. These three topics are often set up as demi-Gods inside and outside of the Church. Every organization, every marriage, every church faces these beasts, and has to deal with these “dangerous opportunities.” So, how do we, as Christians, think through living rightly with money, sex, and power? This short and practical book helps us walk through this tough question.
From the beginning, Piper’s goal is not to eradicate these concepts, but to show their proper place. After all, as Piper demonstrates, these things were created as good things by God. “Money, sex, and power which began as God’s good gifts to humanity have become dangerous because all human beings have exchanged the glory of God for images” (9-10). So the problem is not money, sex, and power, but the sin of idolatry in which humanity has replaced these items for God. Each topic gets its own lengthy treatment, as it should. Piper spends plenty of time discussing these three things separately in their own contexts, but is careful to make sure that we understand the real underlying problem of sin.
I love how biblically soaked this book is. This is not a new formula for Piper’s books, but it is continually refreshing to see that he is not merely theorizing, but laying down easy and careful biblically-supported arguments for his claims. For example, in a chapter on power, Piper presents the remedy for power-addiction, straight out of 1 Peter 2:21. He doesn’t develop a “6 ways to _______” method but consults the text. This is important because so many are asking the questions of what the Bible really does say about these topics. Piper helps us answer that, deeply and specifically. Moreover, Piper reminds us that the Bible is not a mere self-help book, but “a book about God’s intervention to save us from the destructive uses of money, sex, and power” (149).
New and old readers of Piper will find Living in the Light a valuable resource. I recommend this book to new Christians trying to understand the biblical foundations on these important subjects.