Mark Franklin's Reviews > Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

Radical by David Platt
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's review
May 12, 2011

did not like it

I really don't like writing this kind of review, but I don't think I'll be able to get this out of my head until I do, so here it goes.
Warning: I'm going to be mean. Proceed at your own risk.

First, I appreciate the effort Platt is going to in order to shake American Christianity out of it's stupor. He says going to a mega-church on Sunday morning and giving a few dollars to international missions is an insufficient expression of the gospel. Amen, no argument from me. However, Platt then spends the rest of the book talking about a "gospel" I don't see in the scripture at all, and encouraging God's people to fulfill a tiny version of the Great Commission.

Based on this book, Platt has an understanding of the gospel that goes something like this:
1. God hates you and everyone else who ever lived from Adam on, and will carry out divine vengeance on everyone's eternal soul.
2. Through a schizophrenic act of divine suicide, which had nothing at all to do with power structures of the time in which Jesus lived or today, God somehow manages to tolerate you, but not anybody outside the United States who hasn't heard about Jesus, especially not in China or India.
3. You therefore should spend your whole like telling people far, far away from you about #2, because otherwise it really is your fault if they go to hell to be tormented for eternity.
4. Just kidding! You should just read through your Bible and go on a short term mission trip!

Okay, I might (!) be overstating the case. But only maybe.

Let's see what is missing:
1. Creation- there is no purpose to our lives but evangelism, so God obviously made everything on a whim.
2. Love- Platt talks about Love, but only as a peripheral to God's "holiness" which in this case appears to be a word used to mask God's real primary attribute, which is hate.
3. Discipleship- training for... oh wait, we don't need to be trained for good works, because nothing matters but international evangelism.
4. Follow through! This actually disturbs me the most. Platt builds a massive pile of accusation and guilt for American Christianity, then says: But you can feel better by making a one year commitment to do easy stuff! I will have nothing to do with that kind of gospel.

The irony of this book is that it is subtitled "Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream" but it is rooted in a very ugly version of revivalist theology that ignores everything but evangelism, in fact it goes one worse and ignores anything but international evangelism. Platt talks about caring for the poor, but his call to action is based on an understanding of God that has no room for such nonsense, and I'd be hard put to it to defend any social action at all from his perspective. Save their soul, because otherwise they're damned and it is your fault!

Okay, I'm done. I'm sorry if I ticked anybody off.
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May 12, 2011 – Shelved
May 12, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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message 1: by Molly (new)

Molly Franklin Yes, yes! I got this book because I was mesmerized by the title, then couldn't even finish it because of the same things you point out in 1 and 2.

I am so sad that it's a best seller. What a tragedy.

message 2: by Haven (new)

Haven Conner I was considering reading this book. I am extremely guilt-ridden as is. He is probably right, but at age 62 and disabled I cannot do many of the things I've heard he has suggested. Still, in my '20's I always thought I should be doing these things and didn't. I will have a lot to answer for.

Michelle I liked your review, actually, and I am glad for it. Still, I think a lot of what he said made sense. At least for me personally, it shook me up and made me think about what I am doing as a Christian to actually BE a Christian. But I agree with you that caring for the poor (regardless of whether we preach to them) is a top priority.

Jill Thank you, I agree...I could hardly get through the book. All those who haven't heard the "Good News" needs Christ followers to share it with them.. EVERYONE throughout the world...

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Our church is ga-ga over this book, but I have already gone past the phase of telling myself I'm still a sinner in need of further discipline, rather than living in peace, knowing I am loved for who I am.
I am not a child who does not know how to love other people. I know Christ uses the body of believers to spread His message of salvation, and I am a living example of His forgiveness. I use the talents that He gave me to glorify Him.
I don't want to be told I'm not doing enough or I need to give until it hurts. We get hurt enough by the world. Why would we flock to Christ to hurt ourselves? By the number of people who love this book, I am surprised how many Christians have not grown beyond using self-flagellation as a means of maturing in Christ.

Brittany This book is legalistic bullcrap that derailed my relationship with Jesus for 2 years! Platt lays on the guilt trip that we aren't good enough. Which is basically lies from Satan.

Jill agreed!!

Liaabi I think you should consider re-reading the book. Seems like you got everything wrong! Or much better, read the Bible, it seems like you got the gospel all wrong! I mean it in the best possible intention.

message 9: by Dara (new) - rated it 1 star

Dara Seriously Liaabi? It seems reasonable minds are not allowed to disagree on whether this book is biblical. I had a terrible experience with it and was a member of Platt's church for four years before finally walking out in protest. People who don't like this book have legitimate concerns about it. Why can't they express those concerns without being attacked as "un-Christian"?

Tanya Roe I agree 100%!

message 11: by Chuck (new) - added it

Chuck Brown I liked the book, it challenged me. Take what speaks to you and leave what doesn't.

Liaabi Dara wrote: "Seriously Liaabi? It seems reasonable minds are not allowed to disagree on whether this book is biblical. I had a terrible experience with it and was a member of Platt's church for four years befor..."

Dear Dara,
of course people are allowed to disagree, and I would definitely listen to a biblically-supported case. I am only referring to the arguments Mark made...I am sorry, had no intention to attack anyone or to judge whether Mark or anyone is a Christian, since I don't know them. If you are honest, you have to admit the arguments are mostly overstatements and twistings of what Platt is saying. He would have a point, if Platt were saying that. But he ist not. All I am saying.

Steven Lomelino Radical is a wake up call for church members who attend church only for what they can get out of it. It also a wake up call for church leaders who are more concerned about the church building and healthy finances. When church members do nothing and give nothing to further the good news of Jesus and church leaders do more about making their congregation comfortable than motivated to live out scripture it is so inward focused that precious little time is getting used on the main purpose of the church; which is to share Jesus with those without hope.

I am one who is very cautious of extremes. Sometimes you have put a radical challenge on the table to get lazy, self centered people and churches to do anything for those outside the church walls.

message 14: by Dara (new) - rated it 1 star

Dara Liabbi, there are plenty of reviews and information out there that provide a biblical rejection of Radical. I tried to include some in my own review if you're interested in looking at that.

I think Mark's review is more a knee-jerk response but his concerns are legitimate. Especially in light of the adulation this book has gotten, and the presumption that Radical is 100% correct and every Christian should be doing it or their salvation is at risk.

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