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About the Author
A life-long learner, David has earned two undergraduate and three advanced degrees. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (A.B.J.) from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master of Theology (Th.M) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously served at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary as Dean of Chapel and Assistant Professor of Expository Preaching and Apologetics, Staff Evangelist at Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans, and eight years as the Senior Pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL.
David founded Radical (Radical.net), a ministry devoted to serving churches and disseminating disciple-making resources toward the end that the gospel might be made known in all nations.
David and his wife Heather have four children, Caleb, Joshua, Mara Ruth, and Isaiah.
Read an Excerpt
RadicalTaking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
By David Platt
Multnomah BooksCopyright © 2010 David Platt
All right reserved.
Someone Worth Losing Everything For
What Radical Abandonment to Jesus Really Means
“The youngest megachurch pastor in history.”
While I would dispute that claim, it was nonetheless the label given to me when I went to pastor a large, thriving church in the Deep South—the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. From the first day I was immersed in strategies for making the church bigger and better. Authors I respect greatly would make statements such as, “Decide how big you want your church to be, and go for it, whether that’s five, ten, or twenty thousand members.” Soon my name was near the top of the list of pastors of the fastest-growing U.S. churches.There I was…living out the American
But I found myself becoming uneasy. For one thing, my model in ministry is a guy who spent the majority of his ministry time with twelve men. A guy who, when he left this earth, had only about 120 people who were actually sticking around and doing what he told them to do. More like a minichurch, really. Jesus Christ—the youngest minichurch pastor in history.
So how was I to reconcile the fact that I was now pastoring thousands of people with the fact that my greatest example in ministry was known for turning away thousands of people? Whenever the crowd got big, he’d say something such as, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”1 Not exactly the sharpest church-growth tactic. I can almost picture the looks on the disciples’ faces. “No, not the drink-my-blood speech! We’ll never get on the list of the fastest growing movements if you keep asking them to eat you.”
By the end of that speech, all the crowds had left, and only twelve men remained.2 Jesus apparently wasn’t interested in marketing himself to the masses. His invitations to potential followers were clearly more costly than the crowds were ready to accept, and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said radical things. And through their radical obedience to him, he turned the course of history in a new direction.
Soon I realized I was on a collision course with an American church culture where success is defined by bigger crowds, bigger budgets, and bigger buildings. I was now confronted with a startling reality: Jesus actually spurned the things that my church culture said were most important. So what was I to do? I found myself faced with two big questions.
The first was simple. Was I going to believe Jesus? Was I going to embrace Jesus even though he said radical things that drove the crowds away?
The second question was more challenging. Was I going to obey Jesus? My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus’ words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to him. In other words, my biggest fear is that I will do exactly what most people did when they encountered Jesus in the first century.
That’s why I’ve written this book. I am on a journey. But I am convinced it is not just a journey for pastors. I am convinced these questions are critical for the larger community of faith in our country today. I am convinced that we as Christ followers in American churches have embraced values and ideas that are not only unbiblical but that actually contradict the gospel we claim to believe. And I am convinced we have a choice.
You and I can choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life and in the church as a whole, enjoying success based on the standards defined by the culture around us. Or we can take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed him and really obeyed him.
I invite you to join the journey with me. I do not claim to have all the answers. If anything, I have more questions than answers. But if Jesus is who he said he is, and if his promises are as rewarding as the Bible claims they are, then we may discover that satisfaction in our lives and success in the church are not found in what our culture deems most important but in radical abandonment to Jesus.
Puddles of Tears
Imagine all the blinds closed on the windows of a dimly lit room. Twenty leaders from different churches in the area sat in a circle on the floor with their Bibles open. Some of them had sweat on their foreheads after walking for miles to get there. Others were dirty from the dust in the villages from which they had set out on bikes early that morning.
They had gathered in secret.They had intentionally come to this place at different times throughout the morning so as not to draw attention to the meeting that was occurring. They lived in a country in Asia where it is illegal for them to gather like this. If caught, they could lose their land, their jobs, their families, or their lives.
I listened as they began sharing stories of what God was doing in their churches. One man sat in the corner. He had a strong frame, and he served as the head of security, so to speak.Whenever a knock was heard at the door or a noise was made outside the window, everyone in the room would freeze in tension as this brother would go to make sure everything was okay. As he spoke, his tough appearance soon revealed a tender heart.
“Some of the people in my church have been pulled away by a cult,” he said. This particular cult is known for kidnapping believers, taking them to isolated locations, and torturing them. Brothers and sisters having their tongues cut out of their mouths is not uncommon.
As he shared about the dangers his church members were facing, tears welled up in his eyes. “I am hurting,” he said, “and I need God’s grace to lead my church through these attacks.”
A woman on the other side of the room spoke up next. “Some of the members in my church were recently confronted by government officials.” She continued, “They threatened their families, saying that if they did not stop gathering to study the Bible, they were going to lose everything they had.” She asked for prayer, saying, “I need to know how to lead my church to follow Christ even when it costs them everything.”
As I looked around the room, I saw that everyone was now in tears. The struggles expressed by this brother and sister were not isolated. They all looked at one another and said, “We need to pray.” Immediately they went to their knees, and with their faces on the ground, they began to cry out to God. Their prayers were marked less by grandiose theological language and more by heartfelt praise and pleading.
“O God, thank you for loving us.”
“O God, we need you.”
“Jesus, we give our lives to you and for you.”
“Jesus, we trust in you.”
They audibly wept before God as one leader after another prayed. After about an hour, the room drew to a silence, and they rose from the floor. Humbled by what I had just been a part of, I saw puddles of tears in a circle around the room.
In the days since then, God has granted me many other opportunities to gather with believers in underground house churches in Asia. Men and women there are risking everything to follow Christ.
Men like Jian, an Asian doctor who left his successful health clinic and now risks his life and the lives of his wife and two kids in order to provide impoverished villages with medical care while secretly training an entire network of house-church leaders.
Women like Lin, who teaches on a university campus where it is illegal to spread the gospel. She meets in secret with college students to talk about the claims of Christ, though she could lose her livelihood for doing so.
Teenagers like Shan and Ling, who have been sent out from house churches in their villages to undergo intensive study and preparation for taking the gospel to parts of Asia where there are no churches.
Ling said to me, “I have told my family that I will likely never come back home. I am going to hard places to make the gospel known, and it is possible that I will lose my life in the process.”
Shan added, “But our families understand. Our moms and dads have been in prison for their faith, and they have taught us that Jesus is worthy of all our devotion.”
A Different Scene
Three weeks after my third trip to underground house churches in Asia, I began my first Sunday as the pastor of a church in America. The scene was much different. Dimly lit rooms were now replaced by an auditorium with theater-style lights. Instead of traveling for miles by foot or bike to gather for worship, we had arrived in millions of dollars’ worth of vehicles. Dressed in our fine clothes, we sat down in our cushioned chairs.
To be honest, there was not much at stake. Many had come because this was their normal routine. Some had come simply to check out the new pastor. But none had come at the risk of their lives.
That afternoon, crowds filled the parking lot of our sprawling multimillion-dollar church campus. Moms, dads, and their kids jumped on inflatable games. Plans were being discussed for using the adjacent open land to build state-of-the-art recreation fields and facilities to support more events like this.
Please don’t misunderstand this scene. It was filled with wonderful, well-meaning, Bible-believing Christians who wanted to welcome me and enjoy one another. People like you and people like me, who simply desire community, who want to be involved in church, and who believe God is important in their lives. But as a new pastor comparing the images around me that day with the pictures still fresh in my mind of brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.
Talking People Out of Following Christ
At the end of Luke 9, we find a story about three men who approached Jesus, eager to follow him. In surprising fashion, though, Jesus seems to have tried to talk them out of doing so.
The first guy said, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus responded, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 3 In other words, Jesus told this man that he could expect homelessness on the journey ahead. Followers of Christ are not guaranteed that even their basic need of shelter will be met.
The second man told Jesus that his father had just died. The man wanted to go back, bury his father, and then follow Jesus.
Jesus replied, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”4
I remember distinctly the moment when my own dad died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Amid the immense heaviness of the days that followed and the deep desire of my heart to honor my dad at his funeral, I cannot imagine hearing these words from Jesus: “Don’t even go to your dad’s funeral.There are more important things to do.”
A third man approached Jesus and told him that he wanted to follow him, but before he did, he wanted to say good-bye to his family.
Jesus wouldn’t let him. He told the man, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Plainly put, a relationship with Jesus requires total, superior, and exclusive devotion.
Let someone else bury your dad.
Don’t even say good-bye to your family.
Is it surprising that, from all we can tell in Luke 9, Jesus was successful in persuading these men not to follow him?
The first time I heard this text preached, it was from the lips of Dr. Jim Shaddix. He was my preaching professor, and I had moved to New Orleans specifically to study under him. Soon after I got there, Dr. Shaddix invited me to travel with him to an event where he was speaking. I sat in the front row in a crowd of hundreds of people, and I listened to his sermon begin.
“Tonight my goal is to talk you out of following Jesus.”
My eyebrows shot up in amazement and confusion. What was he thinking? What was I thinking? I had just moved my life to New Orleans to study under a guy who persuades people not to follow Jesus.
Dr. Shaddix preached the sermon exactly as Luke 9 describes, giving potential disciples warnings about what is involved in following Jesus. In the end he invited people who wanted to follow Christ to come down to the front. To my surprise many in the crowd got up from their seats and came down. I sat there dumbfounded and began to think, So this is just a preaching tactic, kind of a sanctified reverse psychology. And it works. Tell them you’re going to talk them out of following Jesus, and they will respond in droves.
I decided I was going to try it.
The next week I was preaching at a youth event. Taking my cue from Dr. Shaddix, I proudly stood before the students assembled that night and announced, “My goal tonight is to talk you out of following Jesus.” I could see the leaders of the event raise their eyebrows in concern, but I knew what I was doing. After all, I’d been in seminary a few weeks, and I’d seen this done before. So I preached the message and then invited students who wanted to follow Christ to come forward.
Apparently I was more successful in preaching that message than Dr. Shaddix had been. Let’s just say I stood at the front alone for a while until finally the leader who organized the event decided it was time for me to call it a night. For some reason I was never invited back.
Contrary to what I may have thought about Luke 9, Jesus was not using a gimmick to get more followers. He was simply and boldly making it clear from the start that if you follow him, you abandon everything—your needs, your desires, even your family.
The events of Luke 9 were not isolated incidents in the life of Jesus, either. On another occasion, when surrounded by a crowd of eager followers, Jesus turned to them and remarked, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”6 Imagine hearing those words from an obscure Jewish teacher in the first century. He just lost most of us at hello.
But then he continued: “Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”7 Now this is taking it to another level. Pick up an instrument of torture and follow me. This is getting plain weird…and kind of creepy. Imagine a leader coming on the scene today and inviting all who would come after him to pick up an electric chair and become his disciple. Any takers?
As if this were not enough, Jesus finished his seeker-sensitive plea with a pull-at-your-heartstrings conclusion. “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”8 Give up everything you have, carry a cross, and hate your family. This sounds a lot different than “Admit, believe, confess, and pray a prayer after me.”
And that’s still not all. Consider Mark 10, another time a potential follower showed up. Here was a guy who was young, rich, intelligent, and influential. He was a prime prospect, to say the least. Not only that, but he was eager and ready to go. He came running up to Jesus, bowed at his feet, and said, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”9
If we were in Jesus’ shoes, we probably would be thinking this is our chance. A simple “Pray this prayer, sign this card, bow your head, and repeat after me,” and this guy is in. Then think about what a guy like this with all his influence and prestige can do. We can get him on the circuit. He can start sharing his testimony, signing books, raising money for the cause. This one is a no-brainer—we have to get him in.
Unfortunately, Jesus didn’t have the personal evangelism books we have today that tell us how to draw the net and close the sale. Instead Jesus told him one thing: “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”10
What was he thinking? Jesus had committed the classic blunder of letting the big fish get away. The cost was too high.
Yet the kind of abandonment Jesus asked of the rich young man is at the core of Jesus’ invitation throughout the Gospels. Even his simple call in Matthew 4 to his disciples—“Follow me”—contained radical implications for their lives. Jesus was calling them to abandon their comforts, all that was familiar to them and natural for them.
He was calling them to abandon their careers. They were reorienting their entire life’s work around discipleship to Jesus. Their plans and dreams were now being swallowed up in his.
Jesus was calling them to abandon their possessions. “Drop your nets and your trades as successful fishermen,” he was saying in effect.
Jesus was calling them to abandon their family and their friends. When James and John left their father, we see Jesus’ words in Luke 14 coming alive.
Ultimately, Jesus was calling them to abandon themselves. They were leaving certainty for uncertainty, safety for danger, self-preservation for self-denunciation. In a world that prizes promoting oneself, they were following a teacher who told them to crucify themselves. And history tells us the result. Almost all of them would lose their lives because they responded to his invitation.
What About Us?
Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of these eager followers of Jesus in the first century. What if I were the potential disciple being told to drop my nets? What if you were the man whom Jesus told to not even say good-bye to his family? What if we were told to hate our families and give up everything we had in order to follow Jesus?
This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that he will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor.
But we don’t want to believe it. We are afraid of what it might mean for our lives. So we rationalize these passages away. “Jesus wouldn’t really tell us not to bury our father or say good-bye to our family. Jesus didn’t literally mean to sell all we have and give it to the poor. What Jesus really meant was…”
And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with.
A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream.
But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding Jesus into our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us because, after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with. And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves.
The Cost of Nondiscipleship
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian struggling to follow Christ in the midst of Nazi rule, penned one of the great Christian books of the twentieth century. In it he wrote that the first call every Christian experiences is “the call to abandon the attachments of this world.” The theme of the book is summarized in one potent sentence: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”11 Bonhoeffer aptly entitled his book The Cost of Discipleship.
Based on what we have heard from Jesus in the Gospels, we would have to agree that the cost of discipleship is great. But I wonder if the cost of nondiscipleship is even greater.
The price is certainly high for people who don’t know Christ and who live in a world where Christians shrink back from self-denying faith and settle into self-indulging faith. While Christians choose to spend their lives fulfilling the American dream instead of giving their lives to proclaiming the kingdom of God, literally billions in need of the gospel remain in the dark.
Just a few months before becoming a pastor, I stood atop a mountain in the heart of Hyderabad, India. This high point in the city housed a temple for Hindu gods. I smelled the offerings that had been given to the wooden gods behind me. I saw teeming masses in front of me. Every direction I turned, I glimpsed an urban center filled with millions upon millions of people.
And then it hit me. The overwhelming majority of these people had never even heard the gospel. They offer religious sacrifices day in and day out because no one has told them that, in Christ, the final sacrifice has already been offered on their behalf. As a result they live without Christ, and if nothing changes, they will die without him as well.
As I stood on that mountain, God gripped my heart and flooded my mind with two resounding words: “Wake up.” Wake up and realize that there are infinitely more important things in your life than football and a 401(k). Wake up and realize there are real battles to be fought, so different from the superficial, meaningless “battles” you focus on. Wake up to the countless multitudes who are currently destined for a Christless eternity.
The price of our nondiscipleship is high for those without Christ. It is high also for the poor of this world.
Consider the cost when Christians ignore Jesus’ commands to sell their possessions and give to the poor and instead choose to spend their resources on better comforts, larger homes, nicer cars, and more stuff. Consider the cost when these Christians gather in churches and choose to spend millions of dollars on nice buildings to drive up to, cushioned chairs to sit in, and endless programs to enjoy for themselves. Consider the cost for the starving multitudes who sit outside the gate of contemporary Christian affluence.
I remember when I was preparing to take my first trip to Sudan in 2004. The country was still at war, and the Darfur region in western Sudan had just begun to make headlines. A couple of months before we left, I received a Christian news publication in the mail. The front cover had two headlines side by side. I’m not sure if the editor planned for these particular headlines to be next to each other or if he just missed it in a really bad way.
On the left one headline read, “First Baptist Church Celebrates New $23 Million Building.” A lengthy article followed, celebrating the church’s expensive new sanctuary. The exquisite marble, intricate design, and beautiful stained glass were all described in vivid detail.
On the right was a much smaller article. The headline for it read, “Baptist Relief Helps Sudanese Refugees.” Knowing I was about to go to Sudan, my attention was drawn. The article described how 350,000 refugees in western Sudan were dying of malnutrition and might not live to the end of the year. It briefly explained their plight and sufferings. The last sentence said that Baptists had sent money to help relieve the suffering of the Sudanese. I was excited until I got to the amount.
Now, remember what was on the left: “First Baptist Church Celebrates New $23 Million Building.” On the right the article said, “Baptists have raised $5,000 to send to refugees in western Sudan.”
Five thousand dollars.
That is not enough to get a plane into Sudan, much less one drop of water to people who need it.
Twenty-three million dollars for an elaborate sanctuary and five thousand dollars for hundreds of thousands of starving men, women, and children,most of whom were dying apart from faith in Christ.
Where have we gone wrong?
How did we get to the place where this is actually tolerable?
Indeed, the cost of nondiscipleship is great. The cost of believers not taking Jesus seriously is vast for those who don’t know Christ and devastating for those who are starving and suffering around the world. But the cost of nondiscipleship is not paid solely by them. It is paid by us as well.
A Call to Treasure
Did you catch what Jesus said when he told the rich man to abandon his possessions and give to the poor? Listen again, particularly to the second half of Jesus’ invitation: “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”12 If we are not careful, we can misconstrue these radical statements from Jesus in the Gospels and begin to think that he does not want the best for us. But he does. Jesus was not trying to strip this man of all his pleasure. Instead he was offering him the satisfaction of eternal treasure. Jesus was saying, “It will be better, not just for the poor, but for you too, when you abandon the stuff you are holding on to.”
We see the same thing over inMatthew 13. There Jesus tells his disciples, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”13
I love this picture. Imagine walking in a field and stumbling upon a treasure that is more valuable than anything else you could work for or find in this life. It is more valuable than all you have now or will ever have in the future.
You look around and notice that no one else realizes the treasure is here, so you cover it up quickly and walk away, pretending you haven’t seen anything. You go into town and begin to sell off all your possessions to have enough money to buy that field. The world thinks you’re crazy. “What are you thinking?” your friends and family ask you.
You tell them, “I’m buying that field over there.”
They look at you in disbelief. “That’s a ridiculous investment,” they say. “Why are you giving away everything you have?”
You respond, “I have a hunch,” and you smile to yourself as you walk away.
You smile because you know. You know that in the end you are not really giving away anything at all. Instead you are gaining. Yes, you are abandoning everything you have, but you are also gaining more than you could have in any other way. So with joy— with joy!—you sell it all, you abandon it all. Why? Because you have found something worth losing everything else for.
This is the picture of Jesus in the gospel. He is something—someone—worth losing everything for. And if we walk away from the Jesus of the gospel, we walk away frometernal riches. The cost of nondiscipleship is profoundly greater for us than the cost of discipleship. For when we abandon the trinkets of this world and respond to the radical invitation of Jesus, we discover the infinite treasure of knowing and experiencing him.
Is He Worth It?
This brings us to the crucial question for every professing or potential follower of Jesus: Do we really believe he is worth abandoning everything for? Do you and I really believe that Jesus is so good, so satisfying, and so rewarding that we will leave all we have and all we own and all we are in order to find our fullness in him? Do you and I believe him enough to obey him and to follow him wherever he leads, even when the crowds in our culture—and maybe in our churches—turn the other way?
In this book I want to show you that, with the best of intentions, we have actually turned away from Jesus. We have in many areas blindly and unknowingly embraced values and ideas that are common in our culture but are antithetical to the gospel he taught. Here we stand amid an American dream dominated by self-advancement, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency, by individualism, materialism, and universalism. Yet I want to show you our desperate need to revisit the words of Jesus, to listen to them, to believe them, and to obey them.We need to return with urgency to a biblical gospel, because the cost of not doing so is great for our lives, our families, our churches, and the world around us.
As I mentioned previously, I have more questions than I have answers. And every day I see more disconnects between the Christ of Scripture and the Christianity that characterizes my life and the church God has entrusted me to lead. I have so far to go. We have so far to go.
But I want to know him. I want to experience him. I want to be part of a people who delight in him like the brothers and sisters in underground Asia who have nothing but him. And I want to be part of a people who are risking it all for him.
For the sake of more than a billion people today who have yet to even hear the gospel, I want to risk it all. For the sake of twenty-six thousand children who will die today of starvation or a preventable disease, I want to risk it all. For the sake of an increasingly marginalized and relatively ineffective church in our culture, I want to risk it all. For the sake of my life, my family, and the people who surround me, I want to risk it all.
And I am not alone. In the faith family I have the privilege to lead, I am joined by wealthy doctors who are selling their homes and giving to the poor or moving overseas; successful business leaders who are mobilizing their companies to help the hurting; young couples who have moved into the inner city to live out the gospel; and senior adults, stay-at-home moms, college students, and teenagers who are reorienting their lives around radical abandonment to Jesus. I’ll introduce you to many of them in the course of this book.
There’s nothing special about us. But we’re proof that ordinary people who are naturally drawn to the comforts of the American dream can be converted to a radical faith in a radical Savior. Why not join us?
If you are serious about taking this journey, though, I believe a couple of preconditions exist. This goes back to the two big questions I started asking myself when I realized I was a megachurch leader trying to follow a minichurch leader.
First, from the outset you need to commit to believe whatever Jesus says. As a Christian, it would be a grave mistake to come to Jesus and say, “Let me hear what you have to say, and then I’ll decide whether or not I like it.” If you approach Jesus this way, you will never truly hear what he has to say. You have to say yes to the words of Jesus before you even hear them.
Then second, you need to commit to obey what you have heard. The gospel does not prompt you to mere reflection; the gospel requires a response. In the process of hearing Jesus, you are compelled to take an honest look at your life, your family, and your church and not just ask, “What is he saying?” but also ask, “What shall I do?”
In the pages to come, we will together explore the biblical gospel alongside our cultural assumptions with an aim toward embracing Jesus for who he really is, not for who we have created him to be. We will look at the core truth of a God-centered gospel and see how we have manipulated it into a human-centered (and ultimately dissatisfying) message. We will see a purpose for our lives that transcends the country and culture we live in, and we will see our desperate need for his presence to fulfill that purpose in us. We will discover that our meaning is found in community and our life is found in giving ourselves for the sake of others in the church, among the lost, and among the poor. We will evaluate where true security and safety are found in this world, and in the end we will determine not to waste our lives on anything but uncompromising, unconditional abandonment to a gracious, loving Savior who invites us to take radical risk and promises us radical reward.
Excerpted from Radical by David Platt Copyright © 2010 by David Platt. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Someone Worth Losing Everything For 1
2 Too Hungry for Words 23
3 Beginning at the End of Ourselves 43
4 The Great Why of God 61
5 The Multiplying Community 85
6 How Much Is Enough? 107
7 There Is No Plan B 141
8 Living When Dying Is Gain 161
9 The Radical Experiment 183
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Radical is a difficult book to read. David Platt sets out in this book to turn the hearts of American's from their selfish pursuits to the needs of the hurting and lost people groups around the world. Along the way he makes a host of excellent points, but they are overshadowed by his selective use of scripture and poor logic. I was tracking with the author until about Chapter 4. Up to that point I thought he was doing a good job of bringing me along side of him, taking me step by step to the point where his heart is today. I applaud him for that. The tone was not preachy and the prose were engaging. But it's his response to the question, "What about the needs here?" that lost me (pages 75 and following). Here he makes the point, with exceedingly poor logic, that if we only have a heart for the United States (and seek to serve the people in our own back yard and within our borders) then we only share 5% of God's heart. God has a heart for the entire world. (I'll agree with that. John 3:16 makes that plainly clear.) But Platt's explanation for why we can't stop in the United States is terribly weak. He goes on to give examples from members of his congregation ("faith family") who are embracing "a greater dream." Each of them is doing consistent, gospel-centered service in their communities, oh and they spend a week or two a year in another country serving. The impression he gives is that each of them have a heart for a people group overseas, but isn't that the same as having a heart for people in the poor neighborhoods of your hometown? Are we to give more importance to the people of Sri Lanka simply because they live in another country? Don't the gang bangers of the United States need Jesus as much as the orphans of Nigeria? Are the single mom's of our communities in less need of a savior than the single mom's of third world countries? Platt bangs the drum of "all nations" (Matthew 28:19), but never mentions Acts 1:8 where Jesus tells his disciples they will share the good news beginning in Jerusalem and spreading out from there. Positives He does make some good points about discipleship in Chapter 5. And the closing chapters have some practical thoughts on how we can turn our hearts towards the needs of others. When is challenging people to read their bibles, prayer for others and make sacrifices for greater needs ever a bad thing? Negatives Platt takes a few pot shots in this book. He calls out video venue churches as being shallow. And takes an indirect jab at Joel Osteen (while it's well deserved it didn't seem necessary). So in this respect I think he painted with too broad a brush at times. His thoughts seemed rather scattered to me. One chapter didn't necessarily follow another. Again, I think he offered some good points in the book, but they were too varied to try to follow his line of thinking from one chapter to the next. One annoying aspect was how scripture was quoted throughout the book. Most often references to scripture were directed to footnotes which were tucked away at the back of the book. I quickly lost interest in flipping to the back to see which passages he was alluding to. In the end I feel like Platt wrote this book before he had given time for all of his thoughts to come together. It seems like he's simply struggling to minister to an affluent congregation while maintaining a proper perspective on the needs of others around the world. To
I had the privilege of listening to the audio version of David Platt's Radical. It was provided through the reviewer's program at christianaudio. I had read other reviews of this book and was excited to be able to get the audio version. In this book readers are challenged by David Platt to examine their Christian walks. Are we living what the Bible says, or do we change the true message of the Word to fit to be something that will be more convenient for our lives? The author gives a radical challenge....radical in the view that it is much different from the way our culture says we should live or what the culture says it means to follow Jesus. We have the mindset that we must achieve what is known as "the American dream" and we usually fully believe that that dream is exactly what God wants us to have. But is that what He has called us to when we follow Him? Does he want us to have bigger houses, bank accounts, and fancy church buildings when people all around us and all over the world have never heard the Gospel? I found this book to be very challenging personally. I let my husband listen to it as well, and he agreed with me that the author really has a good point. This author isn't just saying we need to be doing things differently; he is actually doing them with his own life and family. I would encourage you to read this book and be challenged yourself in your thinking and hopefully even change how you live. The audio version was provided through christianaudio Reviewers Program.
Several months ago I heard about the book "Radical" by David Platt. The sub-title particularly caught my eye "Taking Your Faith Back From The American Dream." Now, I am pretty fiercely patriotic, so when I saw the sub-title, I wasn't sure what to think about this book. I get rather defensive whenever it appears that someone is criticizing one of the things that I think makes America great, and that includes the freedom that we enjoy in America to work hard toward our goals and provide a good life for our families. I was expecting it to be one of those anti-American, liberal-minded type books, but something made me read the first chapter anyway (it was available to read online). After reading the first chapter, I realized that the topic of this book really wasn't even close to my initial impression of it, so I decided to request it for my first book to review, and I must say, I found it challenging and not anti-American at all. David Platt clearly states early on in the book that "Certainly hard work and high aspirations are not bad, and the freedom to pursue our goals is something we should celebrate." That helped to clear up the initial impression I had received from the title, and the rest of the book focused instead on warning American Christians to not let the American Dream distract us from our higher loyalty and calling as Christians - which includes glorifying God (instead of ourselves and our own abilities), reaching the world with the gospel, giving of our resources in order to further the gospel and help the needy, personally working to bring the knowledge of Jesus to those who don't know Him, and not being afraid to give our lives in these biblical pursuits. I think the underlying points that Platt brings to light in this book are valid and biblically sound, but I sometimes take issue with the way he says them. There were a couple such instances in the book where I felt the point was stated in a confusing way, but they were minor enough that they weren't a major issue - the underlying points were sound. I just made notes in the book to clarify for myself for future reference. Overall, I found this book to be very challenging. Most people are going to feel uncomfortable reading this book; I certainly did. Platt brings up biblical commands that aren't comfortable to consider - such as guarding against materialism, giving sacrificially, and going personally to "make disciples of all nations". However, no one ever said that following Christ would be comfortable - in fact, if we're feeling comfortable, we probably aren't giving as much of our lives to Him as we should be. It is so easy to fall into that comfortable place, and David Platt brings a full-on, biblical attack against that kind of attitude. I was convicted, especially by the chapter on materialism, and I find myself thinking of practical ways I can apply what I've read in "Radical" to my own life. I would recommend this book to any Christian who is feeling a little too comfortable or content in their current walk with Christ - it will challenge you, and it will lead you to think more deeply about what we are called to do as followers of Christ - and that definitely makes it worth reading in my opinion. Note: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. This is my honest opinion on the book.
Today, I am looking at the book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the America Dream and The Radical Question by David Platt as a part of the Radical blog tour. Radical: "What is Jesus worth to you?" This is the thesis behind Radical. According to Platt, Western Christianity become complacent. Being a disciple of Christ is something that is done in soft, comfortable pews or chairs and Christianity has become about us. Platt contends that this is not the way Christianity should be and proposed a radical paradigm shift for the church. According to Platt, "[S]omewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves." (7) This shift frees us from bondage to comfort and sends us out into the world to live as disciples of Christ. For this shift to happen, we need to commit to believe what Jesus says and commit to obey what Jesus says. Only then can this radical shift take place in our lives and in the life of the church. Platt spend the rest of the book expanding on what it means to believe and obey Jesus in the world today. This might mean we go to places we don't want to go. This might mean we sell all of our possessions. This might mean we serve people we never noticed before. This book is the wake-up call many churches and parishioners need today. I give Radical 4 out of 5 stars. The Radical Question: Having just read Radical, I thought The Radical Question was a little redundant as it was the companion booklet for Radical. The stories in The Radical Questions were told almost verbatim in Radical. In my opinion, this was done as a way to reinforce the concepts from Radical. So, while I thought it was repetitive, I think it did serve a purpose. Disclaimer: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah as a part of the Blogging for Books program. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expresses in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I don't say this often but this is the best book I have read in a while, outside of the Bible of course. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by Dr. David Platt is written with such clarity and conviction that it begs you to incorporate its call into your life. This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. When this opportunity presented itself, I was intrigued. An author I had never heard of with a title that screamed to be read. As I read each page I was drawn to read the next. By the end I was read to sign up and try the Radical Experiment, you'll have to read the book to find out more. Platt calls us from a life orchestrated around pursuing the "American Dream" to pursuing a life of real discipleship. He mixes personal stories, others testimony and Biblical exposition to show the benefits and obedience of this radical life. Actually this radical life isn't so radical but the life that Jesus called His disciples to so many years ago. If you want a book to challenge your life and faith this is just the book you need to pick up this summer. If you are fine with complacency and the status quo, stay away. I hope like me you'll read this book and consider its challenge. I believe you'll be blessed if you do. If you want to read an excerpt of the book before you commit, click here to read the first chapter.
The reason I picked up this book was because I wanted to strengthen my faith in God and to learn how to follow His will. This book covers just that topic, how to learn God's will by turning from the American Dream. Radical opens up talking about underground churches, which I like. I have long respected Christians in closed countries and pray for their strength, during this day and age of Christian persecution; which is worse then it has ever been in history. Then it talks about how you can be a radical Christian and implies you will be a strong Christian like underground church members. The book goes in depth on a 5 point plan to become a stronger Christian: 1. Pray for the world 2. Read the entire Bible 3. Sacrifice your money 4. Give your time for God 5. Join a Church or Small Group to help you grow in your faith If you do these five points you will be a Radical Christian, and I agree with all of these 100%. I need to read my Bible more often, I should go on a mission trip, I try to keep track and pray for both local and world problems, I also give what I can to church and charity, and I am an active church member. But I don't consider myself a true Radical Christian, at least not what I want my version of Radical to look like. I guess this book is perfect for Christians who go to church, then live like anyone else the rest of the week, and for middle road Christians who do the actions but don't share their faith. David Platt also brings some strong points to mind like; How can we sit in comfortable multi-million dollar churches while children starve to death? Shouldn't we be more concerned about people's eternal lives then what fast-food joint we should eat at? Just he never gave a good solution about how to solve this. Other then donate, but American churches are not going to stop expanding and building. VBS still helps teach young kids, Retreats still save eternal lives, so I don't know how David Platt expects us to stop growing our churches yet do all he wants in the American church. Over-all this book is a good read, just I don't think this book covers what it said it would. Use it as a motivational plan to strengthen your faith, by doing the 5 point plan, but don't expect a radical change. I know that, at this time, I don't have the strength to deal with half of what most underground church members do, but I hope to some day with God's strength. So I guess yes, follow his step by step and you will be a stronger Christian, but I think radical is not the right word. Thanks to Waterbrook publishers for giving me this book to review.
In Radical, pastor David Platt encourages us to turn our backs on the American dream life - sell all our goods and go to foreign countries to preach the Gospel. He lost me when he began putting down the people who say there are so many people in America who need help before we reach out to the rest of the world. He likes to quote scripture throughout but he does Mr. Platt purposefully not quote Acts 1:8 where is talking about Jesus showing himself to the disciples after his resurrection and giving them His instructions? In this passage, Jesus says "But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Sprit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth." It seems pretty clear that Jesus is saying start at home and when you complete that task branch out, yet Pastor Platt only wants us to go to the uttermost part of the earth. I'm wondering if Pastor Platt likes having the opportunity to visit the uttermost parts of the earth on the dollars contributed by his flock. The author subtlety puts down Joel Osteen and his religion of wealth. On page 137 he says "More than anything, I don't want to be the rich young man. And I don't want to ignore the fact that the lure toward becoming him is always stronger than I would like to admit." So the reader can help but wonder if Pastor Platt lives in a mansion or a typical suburban home - does he drive a Mercedes or a Ford - does his wife shop at Neiman Marcus or J.C. Penney? I'm just saying. This is one book where I want to know the teacher is practicing what he preaches.
David Platt reminds us that in many countries, Christians risk their lives just to worship Jesus Christ in today's society. He makes you stop and think about your own Christianity, and re-examine your life and priorities. It does make you feel a bit uncomfortable as you read it, but comfort isn't all it's cracked up to be, Jesus doesn't want us to be comfortable he wants what is best for us. We have replaced the Jesus of the Bible, with a Jesus of our own creation, one that is more comfortable and "fits in" with the American dream. Many of our churches today have placed comfort over Jesus, and that is why we find mixed up versions of the Gospel and Christians walking around today with the wrong idea of what it really means to be a Christian. This book is a MUST read for anyone who calls themselves a Christian in today's society. This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. Get your copy today: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601422217
I found this book very challenging and thought-provoking. It starts off a little scary, i was sure we were headed into "sell everything and go to the jungle" territory, but it turned more to be a "be willing to... and do what you can and are called to". Still it raised a lot of very hard questions, and some readers are bound to be unhappy with where the book leads them.
Radical best describes the intensity of this book. It¿s a book that explains the type of faith we are to reclaim and live out. It explains the importance of the Great Commission and how we have neglected our duties as Americans because we have become complacent with our health, wealth, and security. It calls us to be a radical disciple, in the same spirit of the apostles in the 1st century. Although it can be a bit preachy at times, it is nonetheless a powerful, riveting, convicting, and important book. It¿s one of the most important books a Western Christian can read in our modern times. Discipleship and evangelism are waning in our nominal churches, and it must be reclaimed if the kingdom of God is to gain more influence around the world. I highly recommend it.
"Radical" was a very easy read- about two to three days if totally devoted. Platt clearly explains to his fellow Christians that we are too unmotivated enough to spread the gospel. He uses examples of his "faith family" and people that he encounter around the world to get to his point. One major set-back is that references are in the back, but otherwise, the book is very inspiring to all readers and challenges them to live out a life that glorifies God. The best part of the book is a one-year challenge he posts to his readers at the end. It is a great story to discuss in classrooms and churches alike.
What would you do if I told you that in this day and age, many Christians aren't taking God's word with it's literal meaning? What would you do if Jesus asked you to sell everything you had and give the money to the poor. Would you do it? Or would you join thousands of other Christians in this misinterpreted version of the Bible? David Platt explores just that in this two-hundred and seventeen page book. He uses examples of Christians around the world who are suffering for Christ; and they are suffering more than just by unkind words. If you are a Christian who wants an amp on your Christian life, then this book is for you. As a book that was written by a, well, radical human being, this book challenges me to examine the scriptures for myself, and to take their meaning literally. This book completely turns the average person's idea of the "American Dream" upside down (Hence the upside down house on the cover. Don't feel bad, I thought it was a mask too:).One of the questions I had while reading it though was, "What would happen if every Christian in America did everything in this book?" It would most likely change the face of the earth. However, I must say that I do not agree doctrinally with everything he says, though I won't go into detail. Overall, with this books useful tips and convicting message, I think it is a good book, despite the few doctrinal errors.
Platt's book is all about a sacrificial abandon to and for the Gospel. He integrates moving stories and testimonies but is transparent enough to shine light on his mega church and seemingly dream-career as a young pastor. You can not read this book and not see Platt's desperate love for the Scriptures and missions. At the onset of the final chapter he sums up the 'claims' of the previous chapters, "Real success is found in radical sacrifice. Ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of God. The purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live. Meaning is found in community, not individualism; joy is found in generosity, not materialism; and truth is found in Christ, not universalism. Ultimately, Jesus is a reward worth risking everything to know, experience, and enjoy." There are only three books I have picked up and been distracted from life by. This is the latest. Parts of the work express thoughts and convictions that I have carried but only in an infant stage of development. David pushed me to uncomfortable conviction. While many times I would want to shout an Amen and storm the doors of excessive churches most times I felt as though if I were to die reading I would have nothing to show, my life has been wasted. I can not say for sure but two undergirding theologies seem to work through the writing. First I can not help but wonder if Platt is reformed. He certainly sounds as if he is. There is a huge emphasis given to God's sovereignty and the point of missions being worship. Which leads to the second 'theology' that of missions or missional living. Many books call for a change in perspective but Platt goes one step further issuing a call to specific action. He does so with the concluding "Radical Experiment' in which he challenges readers to; pray for the entire world; read through the entire Word; sacrifice money for a specific purpose; spend time in another context and commit there life to a multiplying community (a local church) all within or for one year. Every believer should read this book and seek to apply the truth it expels. He writes from a pastoral perspective which makes it both applicable for the minister and the lay disciple. At the same time he holds both to the unbelievably satisfying and daunting task that Christ laid out before us. Every nonbeliever or seeker can read this book as well. This is what we believe as Christians. I realize that we as believers often give very convoluted impressions of what motivates us but David Platt is able to rightly address our shortcomings at the same time cast the vision we were chosen for. Review originally posted at, http://jowiki.tumblr.com/#602404247
If you are ready to read a book that will literally change your life...then this is the book for you! This is a MUST read book for Christians. I first heard David Platt in person at the Adopting for Life conference. His words were so powerful, as soon as I heard he was publishing a book...I knew I wanted to read it! He has this way of speaking that is completely and uttering just pointing straight to Christ and proclaiming His glory, and I love it, and his written word does the same for me! *I received a copy of this book to read and review from WaterBrook Multnomah.
This is a challenging book for Christians, not only because the author asks readers to make a one-year commitment to enact the principles set forth in the book, but because he's asking them to get out of their comfort zones. I really cannot find fault with the principles the author expounds. They are well-documented by Scripture references. The one aspect of the book with which I took issue is the conversational tone in which it was written. Too many Christian books today are "dumbing down" the English language and thus perpetuating the notion that Christians have a lower intellect than critics of our faith. It's a book about our priorities. Are we truly concerned for the lost, or are we more concerned for ourselves in this culture of consumerism? It is certainly a thought-provoking book that would make wonderful group study and discussion among Christians.
Most people will hate this book. ¿Radical¿ is a challenging call for Christians to live simpler lives honoring the radical claims of Christ. Not for the faint hearted, this book pushes you to stretch beyond what you are comfortable with culturally. Personal stories from Platt¿s mission work in Asia and pastoring a mega church in the American South make the wrestling with the cultural issues come alive. Ends with call to action to take a whole year and: Pray for entire world, Read through entire Word, Give money sacrificially for specific purpose, Spend time in another context, and Commit life to a multiplying [church] community. Only recommended for evangelical Christians who want to take their walk with Jesus Christ to an entirely new radical level -- otherwise you will hate this book.
I was very impressed - and refreshed - by this book. Although unfortunately grievous in some of its details, the book outlines the sad state of the church in America today, and calls us to be more. To be radical. Readers are challenged to change our thinking about what "successful" Christianity is. We are charged to truly serve Christ, with our time, our habits, our finances, our decisions. It was refreshing to me to see that there are still pastors out there teaching the hard-hitting truth of Scripture. (And, as best I can tell, living it.)This is an absolute must-read for every Christian in America.
A challenging book to read. It gets close to home as it reveals how much like the larger society the American church is. That is one reason we are so ineffective in our mission to make disciples. He challenges us spend the next year praying for the entire world, reading through the entire Bible, sacrificing (not giving from our excess) for the good of others, spending time in either a home or foreign mission context for at least a week, and committing our lives to a Biblical church community that is spreading the good news about Jesus to our world.
If you are content with trying to be a Christian and having the "American dream," then don't read this book.If you like being comfortable, don't read this book.But if you're really trying to follow Jesus no matter what the cost, then by all means you must consider this book.The author convincingly and in a convicting way sets forth the contrasts between what Jesus demands of His followers and the ideals of the "American dream." He is more than willing to point fingers at churches and believers and how they have "sold out" the hard parts of the message of Jesus in their pursuit of American ideals. He then shows the way toward radical discipleship-- standing firm for Biblical truth, giving sacrificially, showing concern for the poor and dispossessed, and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom boldly in all places.Many a sacred cow of American Christianity are eloquently slaughtered, and it is for the best, even if it is uncomfortable. The only reason why I cannot make a wholesale endorsement of the book is the Evangelical predisposition of the author and his insistence on faith only and eternal security.Nevertheless, the book is most worthy of consideration.
David Platt may be a young pastor of a mega-church, but don't let that turn you away from what is a persuasive and convicting book. The sound, Gospel-centered message is one that is neglected by many pastors, and it is refreshing to see Platt winsomely and humbly plead with the church to unashamedly follow Christ.Platt writes with humility and conviction, presenting a message that is both challenging and encouraging. Highly recommended.
David Platt has written a book that is long overdue and much needed today. The title is enough to send many who want the comfortable "me-first Christianity" that fills the American landscape and bookstores today running. The title is, however, a breath of refreshing air to those who have had enough of the status quo.This book does something many books do not. It challenges the person who says they are a Christian on every level. We are challenged to examine what we call Christianity today in the brilliant light of Scripture. We are challenged to separate Christianity, and ourselves, from culture unto Christ. We are challenged to live out the simple precepts of the Bible without making excuses and justifying lives that run completely counter to the teachings of Christ. This is a book has the potential to rescue Christianity from America and restore it to the world. This book has the potential to bringing seeping change to the landscape of American Christendom as people move from being "culturally Christians" to Conversion through Christ and commitment to the cause of Christ. Remarkable book. David Platt leaves any Christian concerned for pleasing God and shepherding other Believers asking, "What have I done with the Gospel?" and "What do I really know about being a Christian?" As the answer, "Not Enough" keeps resounding in our ears I trust that we will be driven to God and the word of God and the glory of God to all nations to change that answer. A MUST READ FOR THE AMERICAN CHRISTIAN!
It is rare to find an author that is actually critiquing his current situation. This is one of the reasons David Platt¿s new book, Radical, is so intriguing. He is a mega-church pastor in Alabama and writes a book with the subtitle: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream. One of the major strengths and weaknesses of this book is that it is borne out of transition. It is the written account of an inner struggle that has not only happened in the past but is still in its final stages. The strength of this is that passion and drive oozing from every page. There is no academic reflection on the sociology of the church or objective study on the state of the church. There is instead a personal account of a man wrestling with the gospel in his own context. The weakness of this is that the book can at times seem redundant, unorganized, and lacking in depth. At just the point where I thought he should go into the heart of the matter he moves on to another topic, as though his passion takes him the direction of a ¿Oh, and another thing!¿ approach. However, the thesis of this book is very important and for that I gladly recommend it and applaud Platt for having the courage to tackle it in the heart of Americanized Christianity.
Dr. Platt is an amazing preacher, in the same vein and with the same passion as John Piper, and this book is the print form of the challenges he's brought his church through as the "American dream" is viewed in light of the commands of the Bible to do whatever it takes to spread the Bible's message of salvation through Jesus Christ alone to those in the world who've never heard it. While it is true that several evangelical Christian pastors have challenged their congregations to "give until it hurts" in sermons in recent years, viewing the practical steps through which Platt has taken his church, as well as the step-by-step challenge given to the readers at the end of the work is unique. "Radical" is not a book for all audiences. Non-Christians and those Christians who don't believe the Bible is the actual revelation from God should not even attempt to understand the premise upon which Platt bases his arguments, for everything from the purposes for which humanity was created to what authentic Christianity looks like are wholly grounded in biblical teaching. Additionally, Christians who say they believe the Bible but hate the message Platt brings need to assess their faith's purpose, because Platt reveals the extent to which true Christians should sacrifice in order to reveal the glory of God among those who are less fortunate where we live or who have never had the opportunity (due to geography) to hear the gospel.I thoroughly enjoyed this work, for the thesis that the goal of life according to the American dream is antithetical to the goal live according to the Bible is proven convincingly. As Platt points out, the American dream leads to comfort, safety, entertainment, and retirement based upon the accumulation of things in this life, whereas the Bible calls for the embracing of uncomfortable situations and conversations, fearlessness in the face of potentially dangerous situations, the shunning of temporary entertainment for satisfaction in the rewards from God in the next life, and a life invested in the future of other people, not our own future interests.
When I first received this book, I thought, great, here¿s a super successful pastor ¿ young and energetic ¿ and a growing congregation ¿ numbering in the thousands, and he writes a book on the radical upside-down nature of the Kingdom of God. Thankfully he covers that base in the first few pages in a good way.It is clear what has shaped his views has been the tremendous opportunities to travel and to study at such a young age, combined with an ability to retain knowledge and apply it in creative ways. The challenge he offers though, is hardly creative. It is one year of 1. praying for the world 2. reading the Bible, 3. giving your money, 4. spending time in another context, and 5. commit yourself to a multiplying community.Nothing in the list he shares is any different than what most Baptist churches teach. Okay, maybe not so much 4 and 5. But the framework is quite familiar to any life long Christian. You have to ask though, is this such a bad thing? Is it okay to have a reaffirmation of the ¿basics¿ of discipleship? The stories, the short format, the easy chapter divisions make this a quick read, and a nice book to share with people you might be discipling. If you are a minister, there isn¿t much new here for you ¿ except maybe a challenge to speak more openly on these points, and to push for more contextual experiences and numerical/spiritual growth (depends how you interpret ¿multiply¿ in your community.)Overall I have to say it's a solid book.
Radical by David Platt was exactly that: radical. I was challenged and inspired by this book. The author has made some great observations of our society and gives the Christian reader suggestions (based on commands from God) on what we can do to ensure we aren't "conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2). David Platt believes that there are many professing Christians who "have in many areas blindly and unknowingly embraced values and ideas that are common in our culture but are antithetical to the gospel (Jesus) taught." He goes on to say: "Here we stand amid an American dream dominated by self-advancement, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency, by individualism, materialism, and universalism. Yet I want to show you our desperate need to revisit the words of Jesus, to listen to them, to believe them, and to obey them. We need to return with urgency to a biblical gospel, because the cost of not doing so is great for our lives, our families, our churches, and the world around us." In Chapter Two, the author does a great job of describing the gospel, then he goes on to explain what he sees as the problem in our churches today:"The dangerous assumption we unkowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset is our own ability. The American dream prizes what people can accomplish when they believe in themselves and trust in themselves, and we are drawn toward such thinking. But the gospel has different priorities. The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and to trust in his power.""While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God."One illustration that I will not soon forget is about the time the author was reading a "Christian news publication" and noticed two headlines next to each other. One pronounced the celebration of a new $23 million building for a church. The article beneath described the church's new sanctuary which consisted of marble, stained glass, etc. The other headline was atop a much smaller article. It proclaimed that "Baptist Relief Helps Sudanese Refugees." Nothing wrong with that, except the article stated that 350,000 Sudanese refugees were dying of malnutrition, and "Baptists have raised $5,000 to send to refugees in western Sudan." I almost cried when I read that.Next, Mr. Platt explains in detail what he sees as the solution to the problem: obey God in reaching the world for Christ with the gospel. He suggests we consider the words of Jesus to the rich young ruler to go and sell everything he had and follow Christ. What "things" do we need to give up in order to follow Jesus? "What luxuries does God intend for my family and me to savor, and what luxuries does God invite us to sacrifice?" Then, there is the challenge to go to those who need to hear the gospel.In the last chapter of the book, the author sums up all he says by suggesting the following:"I dare you over the next year to:1. pray for the entire world;2. read through the entire Word;3. sacrifice your money for a specific purpose;4. spend you time in another context;5. commit your life to a multiplying community."I gained a lot by reading this book. I will be going through it again and praying to see what the Lord will have me do in these areas. Here is one more quote (my favorite from the book):"Radical obedience to Christ is not easy; it is dangerous. It is not smooth sailing aboard a luxury liner; it is sacrificial duty aboard a troop carrier. It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all thes things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us."If you profess Jesus as your savior, you should read this book. But remember, it is RADICAL, and it may change your thinking and how you live your life!