Christian Hedonism and the Challenge of Depression

Christian Hedonism and the Challenge of Depression

It was another full week in the Ask Pastor John podcast series, and we covered a few of the more difficult questions of Christian Hedonism.

First, we asked Pastor John whether there are times in the Christian life when — for whatever reason — God chooses to withhold his presence from us, thus nullifying our hope of experiencing Godward affections. The Puritans seemed to operate from this assumption (“God desertions,” they called it). And if this is the case — if God withdraws from the Christian at times, thus making joy in God impossible — doesn’t the plea of Christian Hedonism (the call to be happy in God) just heap more guilt on such a person? Pastor John answered in episode 19.

In episode 20 we asked him how much of joy in God is willed by the Christian, and how much of it is just given as a gift from God? And how do we best understand this dynamic of willing joy and receiving joy?

Then in episode 21, we asked him a follow-up question of what Christian Hedonism offers a depressed Christian.

To round out the week, we asked him about priorities for youth-ministry leaders (episode 22), and about the theology and importance of Definite Atonement (aka Limited Atonement), a much debated point of Calvinism (episode 23). In this final podcast of the week, Pastor John said this:

Here is one of the practical implications [of Definite Atonement]: I want the Church to feel loved by Christ in the covenant way that he really loves his bride. He loved his bride and went after her and he purchased her and he brought her home to himself so that we don’t just feel loved generically, like we are loved the same way people are loved who are in hell or going to hell. We are loved in a covenant way in which God is going to overcome all our rebellion. He is going to make us his own. He is going to beautify us for his Son, and he has fixed his heart on us, and we know that because he put the faith in our hearts to embrace it.

Current List of Episodes

In total, we've released 23 APJ podcasts, all listed here:

Tuning In

The Ask Pastor John daily podcast is a series of 3–8 minute conversations released on weekdays at 11am (EST) via the DG Facebook and Twitter feeds. We're currently hosting all the recordings on SoundCloud, a website that makes it easy to listen to several of the podcasts in one sitting. They’re also beginning to be archived on the DG website.

Soon the podcast will be syndicated in iTunes.

We want to hear from you. To submit a question to Pastor John please include your first name, hometown, and your question in an email to AskPastorJohn AT desiringGod DOT org.

Thanks for listening to the podcasts, and thanks for already submitting a bunch of excellent questions over the past three weeks. We appreciate your engagement and interest.

Tony Reinke (@tonyreinke) is a content strategist and staff writer for Desiring God and the author of Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books (2011) and John Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (2015). He hosts the Ask Pastor John and Authors on the Line podcasts, and lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and their three children.