Christian Hedonism vs. Prosperity Gospel: Thoughts from Calvin

I thought it was interesting that after yesterday's post on Osteen vs. Piper and the difference between Christian Hedonism and the prosperity gospel, that in picking up Calvin's Institutes again today I just happened upon this quote:

For faith does not certainly promise itself either length of years or honor or riches in this life, since the Lord willed that none of these things be appointed for us. But it is content with this certainty: that, however many things fail us that have to do with the maintenance of this life, God will never fail. Rather, the chief assurance of faith rests in the expectation of the life to come, which has been placed beyond doubt through the Word of God. Yet whatever earthly miseries and calamaties await those whom God has embraced in his love, these cannot hinder his benevolence from being their full happiness.

Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III, chapter 2, no. 28. Emphasis added.


1. Calvin makes clear that faith does not expect health, wealth or prosperity ("length of years or honor or riches in this life").

2. Since God has not promised these things ("since the Lord willed that none of these things be appointed for us"). Evidently, Calvin did not think that God promised to give you "your best life now."

3. But Calvin was not anti-pleasure or anti-happiness. Rather, he believed that true faith found "full happiness" in the "benevolence" of God, despite "earthly calamities and miseries."

That's what Christian Hedonism teaches.

You may not like the term Christian Hedonist (I do!) and that's fine. But don't write it off too quickly. Be sure you thoroughly understand what Piper (and others, including Dan Fuller and Sam Storms) mean by it. If you get it, it can change your life.

Here are a couple of short pieces from Piper that further explain Christian Hedonism and show the differences between Christian Hedonism and worldly hedonism and an essay answering the question, "Was Jonathan Edwards a Christian Hedonist?"

Christian Hedonism: Forgive the Label, But Don't Miss the Truth

We Want You to be a Christian Hedonist!

Was Jonathan Edwards a Christian Hedonist?

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