Ask the average non-Christian on the street and they will probably tell you that the God of Christianity is just out to set a bunch of rules and spoil everybody's fun. They may even suggest that to become a Christian means to devote yourself to a life of monkish asceticism and self-denial. In Pure Pleasure, Gary Thomas sets out to debunk this misconception, and does so in rousing form and in the spirit of the likes of John Piper and C.S. Lewis.
Early last year I was sent a copy of The Glorious Pursuit unsolicited and I read it not knowing what to expect, being unfamiliar with the author and his work. I have been thrilled with everything I have read from Gary Thomas ever since and this book is no exception. Central to Thomas' argument is the idea that pleasure is good, God created pleasure, and we are created and intended to pursue our highest pleasures (ala Piper). In fact, at the core of most sins and temptations is a good pleasure—a good drive—that is being hijacked by our fallen, sinful nature.
The solution, Gary offers in part, is not to deny ourselves these illicit pleasures, but rather to so pursue and satisfy ourselves on holy pleasures that we kill at the root our temptations. As he says, "Using pleasure to point us back to God instead of allowing it to compete with him (or worse, letting it draw us away from him) roots us in the greatest pleasure that will never, ever end".
Always the Christian life should be one of biblical balance. A time to indulge, a time to abstain. A time to exercise self-control, a time to get lost in something purely good. This book is not an argument against a Puritan life, it shares the key to finding and nurturing godly pleasure in life, even if yours is a Puritan one.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Recommended for: Those interested in spiritual growth; those dealing with sin, temptation, legalism
This book was a free review copy provided by Zondervan books.