Endorsements and Book Reviews of Happiness

Endorsements of Happiness by Randy Alcorn

Run, do not walk to get this book. This may be book of the year, right here.

I don’t know if there’s a more important book to start 2016 with? Want happiness this year? Want to know how God wants your happiness this year? Want this to be an unforgettable year?

I can give no higher recommendation than this book—I want to give this one to everyone I know. Ten Star. 

Ann Voskamp, author

I highly encourage people everywhere to master the art of being happy and content by reading the latest best-selling book Happiness by my friend and prolific author Randy Alcorn. Happiness is one ginormous resource to discover yours and others’ true happiness, and regain health and balance in our souls, households, communities and nation.

In light of the epidemic drug use in our nation, Randy couldn’t have put it better when he addressed how we are hardwired for happiness but with one serious flaw: “I argue in the book the problem isn’t they’re trying to be happy. Rather, God wired us to seek happiness. The problem is we seek happiness in the wrong places…”

We, patriots, know it is one of our unalienable rights as Americans, as the Declaration of Independence states: We are “endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Chuck Norris, martial artist, actor, film producer and screenwriter (posted on WorldNetDaily)

A landmark book on happiness in the Christian’s life, language, and theology from @randyalcorn.

—Tony Reinke (@TonyReinke), 50 Best Books of 2015

Book Reviews of Happiness by Randy Alcorn


My eyes were opened to a fresh understanding of a universal God-given desire to be happy, which turns out to be quite compatible with an accurate view of God himself as a happy God. The author leaves no stone unturned in articulating the Hebrew and Greek meanings of the many words translated as synonyms of happy in the English language. He refutes the relatively recent but artificial distinction between happiness (arising from the flesh) and joy (arising from the spirit). He painstakingly shows how the word translated as blessed is more accurately rendered as happy . . . and perhaps most surprisingly, God wants us to be holy AND happy! Holiness without happiness is miserable religion, but both will surely follow from accepting the Good News of Jesus Christ. The book focuses on finding true happiness in God, meaning all that He is and does and will do, as well in His salvation, gifts, service, and rewards. The author never implies that we should always expect to feel happy, especially in the reality of difficult circumstances, but suggests that the meaning of rejoicing in the Lord is a command inextricably linked to a foundational happiness in Him. 

–Crissy Hope, condensed from her blog Crissy Hope Notes

Friends, this is one for your forever shelf, and it’s worth the investment as well as whatever space it consumes on your bookshelf. This book changed not only the way I think, but the way I live. How many books can claim that distinction? In his introduction, Alcorn states the happiness problem, as well as his goal: “My hope is that this book will bring balance to your worldview and your walk with Christ by correcting–through Scripture and Christian history–widespread and deep-seated misconceptions about happiness.”
     What startled me was to learn how for years I’ve been given wrong information–misguided at best, downright false at worst. Perhaps you’ve been told similar stuff: that the Bible says that God cares more about my holiness than about my happiness. That the Bible says nothing about being happy–joyful, yes, but not happy. That there’s a distinction between joy (which is holy) and happiness (which is not). Not true. And in a two-pronged approach–referencing the vast and layered teaching of great biblical scholars and fathers of the faith, as well as the Bible’s original-language roots (Hebrew and Greek)–Alcorn spends 500+ pages defending that position.
     It turns out that the misconception of happiness is a fairly modern problem–about 100 years old. Which means that whatever teaching you and I have likely received on the subject is not what our great-greats understood to be true. The Puritans, for instance, were HUGE believers in the rightness of happiness. Their documents are filled with their pursuit of it, the pure delight they found in being happy. Who knew? How did this misunderstanding occur? Well, Alcorn outlines that trajectory in detail, but more importantly, he helps to correct it.
     Don’t left this book’s heft scare you. Alcorn’s style is both highly personal and accessible. What accounts for its size? The razor-thin slices by which Alcorn examines every little nuance of both Scripture and the topic. It’s well structured, well indexed, and easily understood. Promise.
     On a final note, I have to remark on the fact that this big, fat book has disproportionately brief title–with no subtitle at all. As if only one word is needed to convey its big import. Which, in and of itself, speaks to me of the very contemporary relevance of Happiness.

–Katherine Scott Jones, condensed from her blog Story Matters

Up until now, I thought Alcorn typically wrote on spiritual themes and wondered if happiness could be defined in a spiritual way. He does that and more...He defines happiness as a "more consistent heartfelt gladness and delight in Christ," not a "health and wealth" prosperity teaching, positive thinking or self-gratification philosophy.
     The overall theme of Happiness is "God not only wants us to be happy but commands and empowers us to be happy in him!" Randy's thorough and exhaustive writing on the word happiness is best summed up with this quote... "It's needless, distracting, and misleading to make fine distinctions between joy, happiness, gladness, merriment, and delight. They all speak of a heart experiencing the goodness of God and his countless gifts."

Gail Welborn, Seattle Christian Book Review Examiner

Randy Alcorn spent three years researching and writing on a biblical view of happiness in his new book by the simple title of Happiness. One of the nation’s premiere authors and teachers, Alcorn says he examined “the often neglected truth that though the present world involves much evil and suffering, nonetheless God calls us to find pleasure and delight in Him.” Everyone desires to be happy, but too often people seek it in the wrong ways. Alcorn points out a key concept, something readers may not have recognized: Holiness and happiness are inseparable. A complementary booklet, God’s Promise of Happiness addresses in a condensed version major points covered in the larger book. “It is written for both believers and unbelievers,” Alcorn says, “and I believe its pocket size and the question and answer format will make it a helpful tool in sharing the Gospel of Christ.” 

—Randall Murphree, American Family Association Journal

In both the church and the culture at large, happiness needs to be redeemed — it’s demonized by churches, hijacked by prosperity preachers, and misunderstood by unbelievers. With the Bible and Church history on his side, Alcorn puts happiness back in its rightful place and gives us permission to pursue it as an integral part of our walk with God — a God who himself delights with us.

–Bryan, condensed from his blog The Happy Alternative

Alcorn (Heaven), director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, serves as a guide on the road toward true happiness and fulfillment in this hefty but appealing tome. He examines the life of Jesus for clues regarding how to lead a truly happy life. Transcending oneself to serve others plays a key role in his version of obtaining happiness, but Alcorn refreshingly wants to shift the focus of religion away from pure duty and obligation.
     Christians should observe the gospel through the happiness of their lives, he explains, not just the deeds they accomplish or the acts they avoid. One step in this direction is to eradicate the myth perpetrated by many Christians that emotion is bad. Alcorn attempts to diminish the divide between sacred and secular that's found in certain strains of Christianity.
     His approach is progressive in many ways, but when discussing marriage and homosexuality, Alcorn checks in as a traditionally conservative Christian. Still, Christian readers of all kinds may find that happiness is not as elusive as they once thought. 

Publishers Weekly, News magazine on international book publishing

I’ve started working my way through Randy Alcorn’s massive new tome Happiness. It’s a thoroughly biblical treatment of an important subject. The world is full of prescriptions for happiness that don’t deliver what they promise. But that doesn’t mean happiness isn’t important or is impossible to experience on an ongoing basis. Alcorn shows human beings were created to be happy, desire to be happy, and pursue happiness with single-minded focus. Moreover, God is happy (infinitely so!) and He created us to share in His happiness.
     The book does a great job of dispelling some common myths about happiness. Alcorn argues there is no real biblical difference between happiness and joy. He writes, “Only in recent times have happiness and joy been set in contrast with each other. I believe this is biblically and historically ungrounded and has significant downsides.” Which leads to another common misunderstanding: the notion God is concerned about our holiness, not our happiness, or that the two are somehow opposed to each other. Simply not true, says Alcorn. And he backs it up with plenty of biblical evidence.
     Far from a superficial topic, happiness is of the utmost importance for our Christian life and witness. After all, happy Christians make God look good—they glorify Him and draw people to Him. The book is a great reminder our desire to be happy isn’t wrong—it’s inescapable and right—while showing us God is the true source of all happiness. Reading Happiness has been, so far, a happy experience itself. I think every Christian could benefit from its lessons.

–Matt Erickson, Managing Editor Facts & Trends

Many believers are taught that God wants us to be holy but not necessarily happy. Noted theologian Alcorn says that’s simply not true. “We as Christians are the image bearers of Christ and as such, should be the happiest people in the world.”  
     He justifies this through a massively detailed study of God and happiness. Through carefully detailed stories, biblical references, historical research, and quotes, he reminds us that once we understand God’s desire for our happiness we will become the “happiest people on earth.”
     The Bible leaves no question as to whether or not happiness is important. “When we lose ourselves in God and his Kingdom, as Jesus says, we find ourselves – and, in doing so, we find happiness.”
     Academic in nature, it is still written in a manner to draw a continuous read. This book will forever change the way readers think about happiness.

–Donna Watson, writer for CBA Retailers+Resources Newsletter

Tony Reinke said it perfectly—Randy Alcorn’s new book, Happiness, is a “200,000-word encyclopedia on joy.” Its 450-plus pages present the most comprehensive Christian treatment of happiness I know, resulting in one of the most enjoyable, exciting, and exuberant books of theology I’ve read in a long time. It’s one of those rare, potentially life-changing books that has the ability to positively transform our view of God, the Bible, the world, and the Christian life.
     Unlike some books that seem to have been thrown together in a weekend, Happiness took three years to write. And it shows. There’s a remarkable breadth and depth in Alcorn’s teaching on what the Bible says about happiness, his presentation of what theologians throughout church history have said about it, and his analysis of why the church and culture have been moving in opposite directions on the subject—the church often viewing happiness with suspicion while the culture worships at its feet.
     Alcorn, prolific author and president of Eternal Perspective Ministries, is on a mission is to reclaim happiness for the Christian and the church by demonstrating that it’s ultimately rooted in the character of God; that it’s a desirable and possible Christian experience; and that, although different to what unbelievers are pursuing, it’s a valuable bridge to the unbeliever’s world.
     For its positive effect on my own soul, for its capacity to radically transform Christians’ lives, and for its potential to improve the church’s evangelistic message, Happiness is my 2015 book of the year, and I pray God will make it the most-read and happiest “encyclopedia” ever published.

–David Murray, Professor at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, as posted on HeadHeartHand and The Gospel Coalition

Randy Alcorn isn't content just to tell us to be happy. He insists on searching Scripture and showing us the Gospel-centered reasons for a happy life. And if you trust him for a few hundred pages, he'll convince you that there's a lot of happiness to be found, first in God Himself, then in the gifts He gives us, and in our response to God and His world.
     I really enjoyed reading this book. (Frankly, if a book called "Happiness" wasn't a pleasure to read, wouldn't that be a major problem right there?) Randy clearly studied his subject, because this book was peppered with quotes from philosophers and scientists and preachers and artists and songwriters, all of them engaging with "happiness.
     I agree with him that for Christians, happiness has become one of those unspiritual concepts. We don't want to seem like we're obsessed with personal satisfaction or self-gratification, so we shun happiness in favor of a joyful holiness. And joyful holiness is wonderful, but Randy argues that we've devalued the concept of simple, easily recognized human happiness to our own detriment. For Randy, happiness (along with joy and gratitude and contentedness and peace, etc. etc.) rounds out the wholesome life.
     In this book, Randy devotes many pages to studying the most precise meanings of various words in Scripture. There's a reason for this. Often our translation of a word can give it a whole new meaning, sometimes subtle, sometimes glaring. There are a lot of really strong happy words in Scripture, and maybe you've never realized that before. If it's become easy to skim over phrases like "blessed," and "rejoicing," then spend some time with these sections, being startled by the bold, brave, bright happiness that God is fond of evoking.
     All in all, this is a really comprehensive look at happiness: how we can have more of it now, why we can be assured of it for all eternity, and why we should celebrate the fact that we want happiness to begin with. Also, as you're sitting there holding a thick book with "Happiness" emblazoned on the cover, you may have somebody come up and ask you what you're reading. Won't it knock their socks off when you tell them? Now that's a way to start a Christ-conversation, with happiness

–Faith F, as posted on Found A Christian By His Grace

Links to Other Reviews of Happiness from Bloggers, and Readers: