J.S. Park's Reviews > Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

Radical by David Platt
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's review
Mar 18, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: christian
Read from October 07, 2011 to March 16, 2012

Full review here.
The follow is an excerpt.

David Platt, pastor of Brook Hills Church in Birmingham, Alabama, writes a searing work on American Christianity and the counterintuitive commands of Christ. Calling out every Western ideal that has poisoned our obedience, Platt gets to work on both the problems and solutions for our privileged, complacent country.

I’m a bit late to the party here, as Radical had been sitting on my desk for quite some time. Since I’ve recently decided to give away half my income, I took a renewed interest in David Platt’s work. It has come exactly at the right time.

I can absolutely feel the tension in David Platt’s voice as he describes his own megachurch, his resources, the book he has written, and the 4.5 billion people without Jesus. Just as passionate as his preaching and his life’s mission, Platt makes a call for all Christians not to confuse American ideals with biblical commands.

We have so quickly compartmentalized Jesus’ commands into “They’re the missionaries, not me,” and “They have the gift of giving, I don’t.” Except Jesus calls all of us to go, all of us to give, and all of us to make disciples. This is a book that will, if you let it, snap you out of your passive consumer faith into something more reckless, more dangerous, more wrenching, but at last biblical. It’ll lead to joy. It’s the missing piece of your Christian life that you’ve been waiting for.

I can only tell you to be careful. This book is like a grenade. It will explode most notions you have about your comfortable life. You might hate it because it describes exactly who you are, and we naturally hate God and godly things. No one likes to pay a cost or take a risk without guarantees.

A tactic Platt wisely avoids is only stating the negative. Plenty of books can tell you what is wrong with the church and society. Platt does get into that with much conviction, but always turns a corner into forward-thinking vision. He gently challenges with the same questions, What if we began to do this? What would the church look like? What would the world look like? Not many Christian authors are good at this, only coming off as abrasive and gloomy. Platt looks forward to a journey that God has placed us on, a mission of infinite possibilities.

Here I’ll defend Platt a bit from some criticisms as well as offer some of my own.

As other critics have noted, Platt at first glance appears to be endorsing a “Poverty Gospel,” a monk-like asceticism to sell all your stuff and live as poorly as possible. James MacDonald in the Elephant Room tried to call him out on this, though Pastor James ended up looking silly. We are always on the slippery slope of too much; no one is ever on the slope of having too little. I can see why critics would criticize Platt here, but again, he is careful to note that merely selling your things helps no one. He offers solutions, not extreme platitudes.

Some have mocked his “Radical Experiment” in saying it’s too easy. Is it though? He mentions that what we would call radical actually should be normal. And while one week per year in missions doesn’t sound like a sacrifice, he also mentions that spending such time will lead to a desire to sacrifice more. Platt covers his bases.

Bottom Line:
Get this book. If you have already, then just do what God says. Simple as that.


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