Review of ‘George Mueller Bio’ (John Piper)

Because I have already ready a Mueller biography, I was not expecting to learn much more by Piper’s efforts. And in some sense, much of what Piper expounded was review for me. Mueller was a great man of prayer, he was ultimately concerned with God’s glory as seen in His provision, and the Lord graciously blessed Mueller’s labors. But! I was surprised to see how Christian hedonism seemed so apparent in Mueller’s life. Of course, that is not how he would have put it. But Piper has a knack for finding these things.

Mueller stressed the importance of knowing and delighting in God. This “happiness of soul” must be found not in family, books, learning, or even ministry. Instead, it is to be found in God. Yet the question remains: how does one cultivate such love and adoration? If love is so vital and important, then the source of such love is also vital and important! Perhaps it is by traversing mountains, visiting old friends, reading lots of books or in Christian service. All of these things, though good, are not what Mueller proposes. He writes, “How shall we learn to enjoy God?…I answer, this happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures”. Well that is interesting! Certainly we can enjoy and adore God as we study the stars and discover the laws that govern this cosmic universe. But it is especially through studying and meditation—as he later states—that we enjoy God (see Psalm 19:1-6 for the importance of general revelation and verses 7-15 for special revelation).

It seems that love is primarily an emotion (though it is also obviously an act of the will). So why is the heart stirred to love by reading a book from two thousand years ago? There must be a connection. And that connection is that the mind informs the heart. Without the mind, the heart is left to flutter and has nothing to gaze at. For the mind reveals to the heart the loveliness of what is beheld. Think of the love-stricken young man. He does not love abstractly. He loves his beloved. And as he sees her, or thinks of her, he comes to know and remind himself of certain traits in her that evoke his love. So his love is tethered to her loveliness, and tethered to his mind which reveals her loveliness.

Now here comes the crux of the matter: how does the Christian see the loveliness of his beloved Savior? Mueller answers, “Through the study of the Holy Scriptures, God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ”. The Bible is the photo-book, as it were, that reveals God in all his glory. This then stimulates and encourages the Christian to love. Mueller says as much when he writes of the Scriptures, “In them..we become acquainted with the character of God. Our eyes are divinely opened to see what a lovely Being God is!” Where does Mueller get this? Second Corinthians 4:1-7 provides similar statements.

In conclusion, I was particularly shocked to see Mueller state that “food of the inner man [is] not prayer, but the word of God”. But then again, this makes sense. For as Keller writes, prayer is always a response to knowledge. And we cannot pray well if we do not know God well. Therefore, to pray and commune with God well, we must first meet with him in his written and incarnate Word. This preeminence of the Bible would be important enough if we were benign idiots. But we are in fact idol-factories, prone to create a God in our own image. Therefore, we are especially in need of God to reveal himself and to constantly tether our prayers and very lives to God’s word, for our happiness and holiness.


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