Regenerated Value: John Piper on Radical Individualism


John Piper recently released several videos to coincide with the 25th-anniversary release of his defining work, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. As I have written elsewhere, the book’s primary aim is to demonstrate that “the chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”

The book changed my life (no exaggeration), and much of its contents support Remnant Culture’s overarching thesis. Thus, it is no coincidence that one of these videos hits at the very core of what Radical Individualism is all about.

Watch the video here:

Piper’s main point is centered around Matthew 13:44, in which Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven as “a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up.” To gain the treasure, the man joyfully sells all that he has and purchases the field. (I have commented on this previously.)

In other words, to gain the Kingdom of Heaven, we must be willing to trade in everything. This requires a drastic regeneration of our understanding of value itself, which means that the resulting exchange will not involve an isolated choice or decision in human terms. Instead, the transformative experience of coming to know Christ will necessarily lead to a life guided by what I call superrational self-interest (or selfless self-interestedness).

As Piper notes, such a view is “very radical” and “very threatening.”

Here’s why:

…because it means that to become a Christian really isn’t a mere decision…it’s a revolution, a transformation, a regeneration of what you value.

As also noted in the video (and my previous post), the Apostle Paul sums up the nature of this exchange quite effectively (Philippians 3:7-11):

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

John Piper, Desiring GodAgain, this is the essence of Radical Individualism. We are not to live according to simplistic views of atomic self-interest, yet we must likewise avoid the controlling voices of the “community.” Our calling is one that trandscends earthly perceptions of self-interest and sacrifice yet requires each to fulfill our roles on this earth.

Above all, we must submit to God in complete obedience. Only through the resulting (and transcendant) regeneration can our earthly pursuits ever hope to be redeemed, and only through such an orientation can we hope to be free.

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