In my previous question What are counterexamples to the position that Christian morality is ultimately utilitarian (i.e., that God is utilitarian)?, someone in the comments referred me to this article: https://www.desiringgod.org/topics/christian-hedonism

The title of the article is Christian Hedonism. Then it says:

Joy is not optional. It’s essential.

Christian Hedonism is the conviction that God’s ultimate goal in the world (his glory) and our deepest desire (to be happy) are one and the same, because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Not only is God the supreme source of satisfaction for the human soul, but God himself is glorified by our being satisfied in him. Therefore, our pursuit of joy in him is essential.

Christian Hedonism claims that the Christian life should be the pursuit of maximum joy in God — joy both in quality and quantity. Fullness of joy and joy forevermore (Psalm 16:11) are found only in him.

Joy Changes Everything

Learning that God’s glory and our joy are not at odds is a liberating discovery. Christian Hedonism touches, and reshapes, our vision of essentially all of life and ministry — from conversion to worship to the Scriptures to prayer to marriage to missions to suffering, and even the very nature of God himself.


Much is at stake with joy in God. Many have thought about Christianity for so long in terms of duty, rather than delight, that the claims of Christian Hedonism can be tough to swallow. John Piper has heard these over the years and is eager to win even the most ardent detractors.

So, is John Piper a utilitarian? Is there any difference between Christian Hedonism and Utilitarianism?

1 Answer 1


One definition of utilitarianism from ethical philosophy: a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being for all affected individuals. Another definition: Utilitarianism is a theory of morality that advocates actions that foster happiness or pleasure and oppose actions that cause unhappiness or harm.

John Piper, who coined the term “Christian hedonism”, said “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” I found an article on his view, part of which says this:

Piper’s summary of Christian hedonism, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him,” properly understood, is biblical, and Christian hedonism, as taught by John Piper, has much to commend it. Still, there are cautions, starting with the fact that Christian hedonism is not a biblical term, a fact that Piper readily acknowledges. The Bible emphasizes faith as what pleases and glorifies God, not finding delight or satisfaction in Him (Hebrew 11:6). “Finding satisfaction” cannot take the place of “exercising faith.”

Paul’s prayer, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him” (Romans 15:13), teaches that “joy and peace” come from faith (“trust”) in the Lord. Again, faith is the basis of our relationship with God and the blessings He gives; the “satisfaction” (the filling with joy and peace) is the result of faith.

Christian hedonism’s mantra, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him,” must somehow be reconciled with passages such as Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” The theme of faith is present here again, along with death to self, but there’s not much about seeking personal satisfaction in God. As with any teaching, interpretation, or philosophical system, we should carefully compare what John Piper says with the Word of God itself. https://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-hedonism.html

Is there any difference between Christian Hedonism and Utilitarianism? Yes. Utilitarianism appears to be a philosophical concept about morality and trying to avoid harming or hurting others.

Piper’s view of Christian hedonism appears to be God-centred, as opposed to self-centred. It is focused on a real, living relationship with our creator.

Christianity is all about sacrificial love as exemplified by Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who laid down his life so that we might have eternal life.

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