Something Everybody Agrees About

My theology is the conviction that this quote from St. Augustine tells us more about God’s good design than our bad depravity.

The desire for happiness is not in myself alone or in a few friends, but is found in everybody. If we did not know this with certain knowledge, we would not want it with determination in our will. But what does this mean?

If two people are asked if they want to serve in the army, it may turn out that one of them replies that he would like to do so, while the other would not. But if they are asked whether they would like to be happy, each would at once say without the least hesitation that he would choose to be so. And the reason why one would wish to be a soldier and the other would not is only that they want to be happy. Is it then the case that one person finds joy in one way, another in a different way?

What all agree upon is that they want to be happy, just as they would concur, if asked, that they want to experience joy and would call that joy the happy life. If one person pursues it in one way, and another in a different way, yet there is one goal which all are striving to attain, namely to experience joy. (Confessions, 198)

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.