This insightful book lays historical foundations for the philosophy of Christian Hedonism (Biblically known simply as discipleship to Jesus Christ!) which John Piper first outlined in his book Desiring God: The Meditations of a Christian Hedonist.
These chapters on Augustine, Luther, and Calvin (originally lectures delivered at the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors) are thought-provoking, heart-stirring mini-biographical studies aimed at fanning the flames of God-centeredness in the lives of Christians.
Piper beautifully develops the Augustinian understanding of grace as "sovereign joy" which liberates us from the power of sin, by showing how this dynamic worked to free Augustine himself from the bondage of lust.
From Luther's life, Piper delves into the importance of studying the Word of God even in the midst of suffering. And with Calvin, we are told how devotion to the exposition of Scripture is the means by which the Majesty of God is revealed with life-transforming power.
Piper preserves the careful balance of admiring the virtues of these men without condoning their flaws. He gives insightful and objective reflection on Augustine's sacramentalism, Luther's vulgarity, and Calvin's consent to the barbarity of his violent age. But he doesn't let these sad mistakes obstruct from view the important contributions each of these men have made to the history of the church.
I am glad that these studies are being published (this is the first book of a series of such biographies). They will prove helpful to both the serious student of Christian History, as well as the average curious reader.