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Hedonism – RC Sproul

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C2TV ministry is designed to strengthen your spiritual walk. This ministry newsletter began in 1999, first known as the Family Tree Ministry. The goal is to be a connection builder, serving as a spiritual connection between people and matters of faith. Our mission is simple: Connecting men and women to life-changing faith in Jesus – encouraging them to impact their community with His values, ethics and love. In the age of technology the newsletter has transformed into a blog with many more features that the old paper format couldn't provide. In November 2012, The Family Tree Ministry was renamed to "Connect to the Vine - (C2TV)" based on the Book of John, Chapter 15, where we are told to remain connected to Christ. In October 2016, this blog was renamed to "Connecting Champions to the Vine - C2TV." This change came about with the adding of the ADVOCARE bar at the top of the blog site. Originally focused on a ministry outreach to family members, C2TV has expanded to reach all those whom we come into contact with. Our prayer is that this blog becomes a means of illuminating God's work in our culture and encouraging one another to stand firm in Him! At the heart of the spiritual journey is the understanding that it is a journey. None of us are perfect. Once we become believers, we are not expected to achieve instant spiritual maturity. Rather, the Christian life is a process involving both our attention (2 Corinthians 7:1) and God’s work in us (Philippians 1:6). And it has more to do with opportunity and intentionality than with age (1 Timothy 4:12).

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Ecclesiastes 2:1–11 “I said in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.’ But behold, this also was vanity” (v. 1).

Hedonism, the final non-Christian worldview we will cover in our brief study of philosophy, can be traced back all the way to the garden of Eden. Genesis 3:6 says that Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit partly because it was a “delight” to her eye. There was a certain amount of pleasure that the fruit gave her when she beheld it, and, no doubt, a degree of pleasure that she thought she would receive should she disobey God and take from the tree. In retrospect, however, Eve found only pain when she and Adam sinned (Gen. 3:7, 16–19).

As a worldview, hedonism is concerned with the maximizing of pleasure and the minimizing of pain. At various points in history it has expressed itself crassly. We can think, for example, of the orgies and drunkenness in ancient Greece and Rome. Other hedonists, however, have been more thoughtful and have done their best to minimize the “hedonistic paradox.” A basic problem with hedonism is that in striving to achieve pleasure you may actually find what you most want to avoid — pain. If you reach too far in pursuit of pleasure you might fail and be frustrated, which is painful. Paradoxically, in looking to satisfy your own lusts you might just find a world of hurt. The Epicureans of ancient Greece are an example of these thoughtful hedonists. They pursued pleasure, but not “too much” in order to avoid the negative consequences of failure.

Tyranny is the logical end of hedonism. Perhaps I can maximize my pleasure only by maximizing your pain. A hedonistic worldview cannot consistently condemn me, since, after all, I am just seeking my own pleasure. Thoughtful hedonists might say pleasure is found only if no one is harmed, but this is an appeal to an objective idea of pleasure, which hedonism denies. Only the group with the most power can maximize its own pleasure when a transcendent norm does not define pleasure.

In part, Christianity is about the pursuit of pleasure, but this pleasure is one that is defined by a transcendent God. Christ says true pleasure is found in life eternal, which, to hedonism’s disgust, can only be found by those who are willing to endure intense pain for the Lord (Matt. 16:24).

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Hedonism tends to say that the only pleasure worth having is sensual in nature. It is ultimately a futile pursuit, as Solomon says in today’s passage. We are made to have a relationship with an infinite being, and therefore nothing finite can satisfy us permanently. Jesus alone can complete us. As we pursue Him, Christ satisfies us (Matt. 11:30) and will both now, and in eternity, bring us to deeper levels of pleasure in Him.


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