What Is Christian Hedonism?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

What is Christian hedonism and why is it a threat to the Christianity of the Bible?

Hedonists

To the hedonist, it’s all about the pleasures in life and satisfaction of desires.

Hedonists are those who practice hedonism, and hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure or sensual self-indulgence. To the hedonist, it’s all about the pleasures in life and satisfaction of desires. That’s the highest good and proper aim of human life. This means that they see suffering as evil and they seek to avoid it at all costs. For the hedonist, what they chose to do depends exclusively on what affects their own well-being, and not necessarily the well-being of others. It’s the idea that they are the center of the universe, not God. Looking at our world today, it sure seems hedonistic. The word “hedonism” comes from the ancient Greek word for “pleasure,” so for the hedonist, anything that’s not a pleasurable experience and doesn’t satisfy desires, doesn’t really matter, but when we look at Jesus’ life, He was the polar opposite of this approach.

Christian Hedonism

I am saddened to report that there are actually large numbers of Christian hedonists in the world. Even sadder, they live no differently from the world, but that should alarm the average Christian. We are not of the world, even though we have to live in the world. We are not part of the world’s system. That should mean that we’ll be hated by the world because we are not of the world just as Jesus was not of the world. The word Christian and hedonist do not seem to go together. Christian hedonists essentially do the same things that the lost do; whatever strikes their fancy, but no believer can have assurance of their salvation if they’re living like the world. Living in sin usually robs a believer of the joy of their salvation; it destroys their peace of mind; and maybe even robs them of their assurance of salvation. Hedonists are not even worried about sin, but that’s a very serious warning sign. Indeed, they may not even be saved. Many will believe they are saved at Jesus’ appearance, but these same many will be turned away (Matt 7:21-23), so Christianity and hedonism are diametrically opposed to one another. One has an inward focus; the other has an outward focus; looking out for the best interests of those around them.

No Promises

Nowhere in the Bible are we promised happiness or a happy life. Most Christians know a lot more about suffering than they do about being in a constant state of happiness, but Christians are not to focus on happiness. Our focus should be on Jesus Christ. This is what gives us the joy of the Lord. Once we’ve trusted in Christ, we are filled with the peace that only Jesus gives; a peace which they will not lose and surpasses human understanding, but the hedonist sees suffering as evil and physical deprivation as bad. To them, something must be wrong, but that’s too bad because they miss the biblical lesson that God can use evil for good purposes (Gen 50:20; John 3:16), so even the bad things in our lives work out for our very best (Rom 8:28). The hedonists see all things, particularly all bad things in their life, as working against them, instead of working for them. In the end, the hedonist is doomed to a life of disappointment because the things in this world can never bring true happiness or joy or peace; that only comes from a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Are we most satisfied in things (pleasures) or in God? That’s a question I must ask myself.

A Servant’s Call

Serving at Soup Kitchen

“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt 25:40).

Contrary to the way the hedonist thinks, we are not called to serve self; we are called to serve others; to make our lives a living sacrifice; to love others just as Jesus loved us (John 13:34). The hedonist has a hard time with sacrificing for others. They love self more than others, or love pleasing self more than pleasing others, but Scripture says we’ve been crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20), meaning our lives have been laid down for Him. The result is we lay down our lives by serving others (Matt 25:35-36, 40). We probably won’t have to die for others, but we will have to die to our own self-interests, pursuits, and pleasures. It will cost us, but the hedonist can’t do this, so Christian hedonism just doesn’t work because it’s not the life of a disciple of Christ. We are to count others as more significant than ourselves (Phil 2:3), and not the other way around. Galileo needs to call these “Christian” hedonists and tell them that they’re not the center of the universe. The Son is. And believe me, before I was saved, I was a hedonist…just not a “Christian” one. That all changed on the day when God quickened me by His Spirit (Eph 2:1-5).

Little Christ’s

Our greatest focus in life will be the thing that we worship the most. If that is pleasure, then pleasure is our god, and we’re no more than a hedonist; but if our joy is in the Lord; in serving Him by serving others, we’ll be focused on others more than on self. Whomever or whatever we serve the most is the one which is our god. I pray it’s not “we” but He! The word “Christian” basically means “little Christ,” so Christian hedonism and Christianity are incompatible. They are beliefs headed in the opposite directions. One is headed inwardly, while the other is looking outward, toward others. The believer strives to put “self” last in line, but for the hedonist, “self” is not only first in line, he’s the only one in line.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember that “even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for man” (Mark 10:45), so what I say to you, I say to self, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Rom 12:11). I am with Paul. Why not “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1)? When it gets down to it, the hedonist serves himself, but the believer serves the Lord, meaning they serve others, and generally, they are “Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man” (Eph 6:7).

Here is some related reading for you: Why Are Eastern Religious Practices so Popular Today?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise Jenkins July 11, 2020 at 11:12 am

Mr. Wellman ,

Do you believe and practice these scriptures?

Mark 16:17, Acts 2:4

Thank you,

Reply

Jack Wellman July 11, 2020 at 11:58 am

Mrs. Jenkins. Answer me this first: Do you do practice these (more important) Scriptures? For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matt 25:35-36) as unto Him (Matt 25:40)? Or nothing for Him (Matt 25:41-46) which is most critical. I sense you stress water or the blood of Christ and that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and Hid shed blood was not enough, so you essentially must believe Jesus + baptism = salvation. That is works! Repent of this or (Matt 25:41…

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Louise Jenkins July 11, 2020 at 9:01 pm

Yes, I do as often as I can and am prompted to.

I believe salvation is through Christ alone, not works or baptism.

Could you answer my question please?

Thank you,
Louise

Reply

Jack Wellman July 11, 2020 at 9:38 pm

Yes, I believe there are those who can speak other “languages” which is what the Greek calls it. Yes, I believe a person needs to believe in the Lord and then be baptized.

As for the few Bible verses that mention baptism and salvation in the same sentence (only 2 – 4 or so) there are dozens more that never, ever mention baptism, so do you believe and practice these veres?

EPh 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Acts 16:31
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” In this chapter, the jailer and then his whole household believed…and a few verses later, they were baptized. They were saved WITHOUT baptism, then, can’t you see that?

So I will ask you, do you practice these, but more importantly, do you believe them?

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 5:24
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

Romans 10:9-10
Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

and many, many more.

Perhaps you could find a good study Bible or enroll in a good Bible course (ttb.org is among the best) because you are in great error if you believe that you need baptism to seal our souls. I pray you do not teach others this same doctrinal or Scriptural error.

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