Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness
By David K. Naugle, Th.D., Ph.D., professor of philosophy, Dallas Baptist University.

Published by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Cambridge, England)

216 pages
Dimensions: 6” x 9”

ISBN: 978-0-8028-2817-0
Price: US $18.00 paperback
Release Date: November 2008
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Table of Contents

1. A Broken Heart and the Pursuit of Happiness p.1
2. Disordered Love: Everything I Love Is Killing Me p.31
3. Disordered Lives: Seven (and Even More) Ways to Die p.59
4. The Gospel: From Futility to the Living God p.87
5. Reordered Love: The Expulsive Power of a New Affection p.117
6. Reordered Lives: All Things New p.145
7. A Mended Heart and the Deep Meaning of Happiness p.177
—Discussion Questions p.208

From the Preface

A good preface is the foundation and fruit of a book simultaneously.

     What do you love? How do you love the things that you love? What do you expect to receive from the things you love? There aren’t too many questions more important than these. Why? Because as we love in our hearts, so are we. We reap what we love. Indeed, wherever we go and whatever we do, it is our loves that move us and take us there, especially in our pursuit of happiness. Consciously or not, in our brokenness and pain, we attach our loves, affections and desires to people, places or things in ways and with hope that we will finally find the felicity we have been searching for all our lives. Our quest for happiness based on our loves is what our lives … and this book are all about. The Bible as my primary source, and St. Augustine and C. S. Lewis as my main conversation partners for this volume, all testify to this. …

From this overview of the book to come, three additional points are worth making. First, my discussion of the deep meaning of happiness in this book follows the unfolding narrative of a biblical worldview in terms of creation, fall and redemption:

  • The deep meaning of happiness as God intended at creation rooted in rightly ordered loves and lives;
  • Happiness lost in the fall of humanity into sin and replaced with devastating ignorance and disordered loves and lives;
  • The deep meaning of happiness already redeemed and one day fully restored in Jesus Christ who graciously reorders our loves and lives through the gospel in this present life.

This grand narrative disclosed in Scripture is enormously helpful in elucidating the deep meaning of happiness — what it ought to be, what it has become, and what it can and will be — as well as all aspects of our lives in this world which God made, which we marred, and which Jesus Christ has redeemed!

Second, the view of happiness I have presented here is significantly countercultural. Contrary to popular opinion, happiness is not person-relative “do your own thing” or an intense hedonistic pursuit. Rather, it is the condition of genuine human fulfillment and flourishing rooted in a relationship with God whose mercy and grace demonstrated in Jesus Christ reorders our loves and lives in righteous and virtuous ways so that we are able to enjoy, indeed, to relish, all aspects of life and creation appropriately in him. This view of happiness is grounded in revealed and knowable Christian Truth in Scripture about God, the creation, human nature, sin and evil, the need for redemption, and the nature of happiness itself in connection with God and the things we love. Personal alignment with these “permanent things” is the real way to discover and experience the fullness of life and peace that God offers to us in Jesus Christ.

Third, the content of this book is a contemporary expression of the grand tradition of Christian (not secular) humanism. Christianity is the true humanism since it provides the only adequate basis for affirming the value and dignity of human beings who are made and remade as the image and likeness of God. Indeed, God created us as whole persons of both body and soul, and has saved us, “… not as souls but as wholes.” (N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, page 199). At its best, Christianity unflinchingly addresses all of our human needs and desires spiritually and physically, including our longing for a real and lasting happiness. Despite the stereotypes, the Christian faith is life-affirming rather than life-denying. It encourages believing people to discover what it means to be fully and truly human, to live exuberantly and fruitfully as God’s creatures abiding in God’s creation that was, and still is, very good. Summing up this perspective, St. Irenaeus has well said, “The glory of God is a person fully alive!”

In Philippians 1: 9-11, St. Paul offers a prayer that appropriately concludes this preface and commences this book. In it the apostle asks God that our love might flourish in wise and intelligent ways through Jesus Christ so that we might live exemplary lives and that God will be exalted. This is also my prayer for the reader of this book, an answer to which will surely change lives and help bring about a revolutionary culture of charity as the true hope of the whole world!

  • And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

~ David K. Naugle