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Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the…

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (original 2010; edition 2010)

by David Platt

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2,521603,782 (4)10
Examines the ways in which the gospel is contradicted by the American dream and challenges Christians to join in a one-year experiment in authentic discipleship that promises spiritual transformation through the word of God.
Title:Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
Authors:David Platt
Info:Multnomah Books (2010), Edition: 1, Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Christian Growth / Discipleship

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Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt (2010)



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What is Jesus worth to you?

It's easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily...

But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?

In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple--then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a "successful" suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.

Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment--a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.
  OCMCCP | Jan 15, 2018 |
So I read this book after reading it's sequel, "Radical Together." As I expected, this is the better book of the two. Unfortunately the two books are too similar for me to enjoy this book as much as I may have otherwise. Here are some of my general thoughts on this book (more reflections than a book review):

1. David Platt manages to write in a humble, and engaging way. He tells stories about what his church is doing and the steps that they are taking to follow Jesus and to accomplish his mission in the world. It is true that this not the best written book in the world, but it is hard to dislike Platt's genuineness and eagerness to be faithful to the gospel in the mega-church context he found himself in.

2. The stuff that Platt is pushing people towards is good stuff. This book ends with a challenge to for one year to: pray for the entire world, read the entire Bible, sacrifice money for a specific purpose, spend time in another context, and to commit one's life to a multiplying community. Having taken up such challenges in the past, I agree that giving a year of one's life to these types of things are life changing and will enlarge your faith, your heart, and your eyes to see where God is at work.

3. Platt writes from the perspective of a conservative evangelical. this is who he is and the lens by which he looks at the world. This is not bad but occasionally it means that his concept of the gospel and social issues are skewed because of it. This is a great book to get someone thinking globally, about caring for those in need, about evangelism and world missions. What is missing is analysis of systemic injustice, and the way the 'powers' skew our vision. Platt urges activism and mission, but in places his vision could be more communal, holistic and sacramental. I feel like if I were to enact his program, I would burn myself out unless there was also a context of nurture, community and continual encounter with the grace of God. Not saying Platt is against any of this, but it is not articulated here. Thus, I think that despite the many good things he advocates for, a wholesale embrace of his program, can still be one dimensional. I have been where he is and I want more (but not less!).

4. Platt does a good job of challenging the typical individualism, me-first-ism and consumerism of American Christianity. This is frankly amazing as a mega-church pastor. So though, I can think of a number of authors who are more prophetic and incisive in their critique, they are often voices from the margins. It is refreshing to hear a spokesperson who is a successful middle-class white pastor of a wealthy church with a multi-million dollar facility raising this critique. Ultimately I think Platt could and should be more 'radical' than he is (in either sense of the term radical), but this is someone who seems on the right road.

5. Evangelicals are widely reading this book. That is exciting. The growing trend towards awareness of social justice by Evangelicals is an exciting development which signals a shift from the Gnosticism which evangelicals are tempted toward. The Kingdom of God is not a purely spiritual institution but one in which the church brings to the world, in part, through their care for the physical needs of the watching world. Could this book say more about social justice, creation care, etc? Absolutely, but I like that Platt doesn't overspiritualize everything.

6. There are some points of theology where I disagree with Platt and think he oversimplifies things, but I like his overall thrust.

( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |
This is a powerful book that pulls us out of our American context and confronts us with the question of what the gospel really demands of us. It is guaranteed to challenge you and probably scare you a little (in a good way). Definitely worth reading! ( )
  HGButchWalker | Sep 21, 2016 |
I recently received a recommendation from a couple of pastors for the book, Radical, Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream. I certainly would not recommend it – especially to an immature Christian or interpreter. Dr. David Platt is the author; he is a middle aged pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, a four-thousand-member congregation in Birmingham, AL. This is the synopsis from the back cover of the book, “It’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel, they would take up their crosses daily. . .”

A few thoughts about it:

1. It is a Best Seller. I’m suspicious of any religious book that makes the New York Times bestseller list. To me that makes it a “fad” book. I’ve heard that pastors have had congregants “raving” about the book. This is reminiscent of the book In His Steps that popularized the acronym WWJD. which is seen on jewelry, clothing, Bible covers, and even some church decor. In my 10 years of ministry and 25 plus years of Christian life, I’ve known few solid and mature Christians who are heavily influenced by “fad” books. Most of them are “plodders” whose lives are more influenced by a consistent diet of God’s Word through their daily reading or weekly pastoral preaching.

2. It is experiential, not expositional. In addition to the previous point, there are very few sources quoted other than the Bible. Several of those sources are memoirs or biographies which do not offer anything authoritative, just a powerful quotation, opinions, or a personal experience. Furthermore, he spends far more time giving examples which support his assertions than he does explaining the Scriptures from which he has developed his conclusions. This is very similar to Bill Gothard (if you are familiar with his teachings). Bill Gothard’s interpretations of Scripture are often dubious, yet he has an ability to weave in an illustration which seems to prove his interpretation. Unfortunately, many Christians do not have enough hermeneutical understanding to realize that they are allowing themselves to be swayed by someone else’s experience rather than being confronted with absolute truth. Quite candidly, there is far more storytelling and opining in this book, which appeals to the emotions, than Biblical exposition, which appeals to the will.

3. It isn’t radical, but normal discipleship (based on sound doctrine). As I read through the book and thought on the author’s examples of what people that he knew were doing, it dawned on me that that what he describes as “radical” is actually “normal” for the kinds of Christians that I have known for my whole life. I’ve known many Christians who have quit their jobs, sold their houses, and gone to a Bible college/university/seminary to prepare for full time work on a foreign mission field. I’ve known many Christians who have long given more than a 10% tithe and have often sacrificed to be able to give more and more to the work of God. I’ve known many Christians who have spent a week or two each year going on short term mission trips and have been regularly involved in all kinds of ministries intended to reach those who are lost and spread God’s glory. The author eluded a couple of times to the mega church movement and the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. He seems to be working off of the premise that most Christians in the U.S. are of the Joel Osteen caliber and he is trying to rescue them from that misunderstanding – I do appreciate that attempt. However, it concerns me that Christians in my circle, that I thought already understood discipleship, are so taken with this book.

4. It is theologically confusing. It used to be, that if I didn’t understand something about which an author was writing, I thought that I was unintelligent. Now, having written, preached, and taught as much as I have, I realize that it is just as much or more the author’s fault. It is more the author’s responsibility to communicate than it is the recipient’s to decipher what is being written or explained. Frankly, I’m still a bit confused about where the author stands on two particular theological questions:

A) The Holy Spirit? Any man who has earned a doctorate understands his word usage. Furthermore, when he repeats something, it is obviously for the sake of emphasis. I’m not sure what Dr. Platt believes about the Holy Spirit. He writes of the continual “coming” of the Holy Spirit rather than the constant presence. It seems like he has more of an Old Testament understanding of the Holy Spirit than a New Testament one. Here are several examples (pages 57-58): “The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in you” and “he answers by sending the Holy Spirit” and “God gives you the Spirit of wisdom” and “God gives you the Spirit of power” and when you ask for the fruit of the Spirit, “he gives you the Spirit, who makes these things a reality in your life.” The author goes on to say “We ask God for gifts in prayer, and he gives us the Giver.” He concludes with something that he calls bold; I’ll quote it entirely. The author is hypothetically speaking to God, “Would you . . . would you just come down, live in me, and walk through this for me?” Then, “Isn’t it pushing the envelope to ask the God of the universe to come down and take residence in you and me?” I’m very confused with what Dr. Platt believes. According to what the Bible teaches about salvation and the Holy Spirit, that happened once at the moment of salvation. As insinuated already, he is using the verb tenses that he is using on purpose, and he used them repeatedly, so I’m inclined to think that he doesn’t have the same Pneumatology that I do. Perhaps Dr. Platt is not a Dispensationalist, or perhaps he does not believe in the permanency of the indwelling of the Spirit, perhaps he is a non-cessationist, or perhaps – but not likely – he didn’t realize what he was writing? I can only surmise . . . but we’re not on the same page.

B) Salvation or Sanctification? Dr. Platt’s usage of the Scriptures was scary (not for me, but thinking of an undiscerning person reading his interpretations and applications). Most of his assertions regarding money, possessions, and discipleship, were taken from either parables or individual encounters in the gospels. I’ll give a couple of examples. First, the rich man and Lazarus in Luke chapter 16: the book, Radical, is written to Christians and Dr. Platt asks the question on page 114, “with whom do you identify more – Lazarus or the rich man? For that matter, with whom do I identify more?” He then goes on by stating that he realized he was more like the rich man than Lazarus – as are, in his conclusion, the bulk of the people reading his book. However, the context must be clearly understood before conclusions can be made. This story was told to “the Pharisees, who were covetous . . . and they derided him.” Jesus’ point in the story was to show that the covetousness of the Pharisees was keeping them from receiving Him as their Messiah. This is not a lesson taught to Christians regarding sanctification. Jesus was not teaching here that believers must give up their wealth if they will be committed disciples, He was warning that adherence to wealth would keep the Pharisees from salvation. Using this story to ask those who are believers with whom they identify is confusing – and possibly manipulative (though I can’t discern the author’s motives). Regardless, it is a wrong interpretation. He concludes this segment by basically saying (page 115), that Christians in the U.S. are like the rich man and that if we neglect the Lazaruses of other countries (especially believers in other countries), that we are not really the people of God. I can’t be any clearer, his interpretation is wrong and therefore his application is baseless. Unfortunately, it will be read by undiscerning people and be presumed to be true and they will make life decisions based on faulty teaching. Secondly, the rich young man in Mark chapter 10: this encounter clearly begins with an unsaved man. Jesus tells him that to inherit eternal life, he must sell all that he has and give it to the poor. The question here is not, “I’m a believer, what must I do to be a more committed disciple.” A couple of paragraphs later, Dr. Platt says, “If Mark 10 teaches anything, it teaches us that Jesus does sometimes call people to sell everything they have and give it to the poor.” This is blatantly false, it is not the one thing the passage is teaching. The man that Jesus was talking to was an unbeliever whose question was about salvation, not sanctification.

Do I believe that believers should sacrifice as a part of discipleship? Yes. Do I believe that one’s generosity is an indication of discipleship? Yes. Do I believe that greed and possessions can hinder discipleship? Yes. However, Dr. Platt is confusing the issue by taking passages of Scripture that are speaking of whether or not one is even saved and then applying it to the sanctification aspect of discipleship. This approach will undoubtedly cause unsaved people to think that they must give up wealth to be saved (works salvation). Or, it will cause those who are saved to doubt their salvation because they have not sold everything and given it to the poor. This is not just my assumption about the author’s intent; he essentially states this on page 125 while speaking of how hard it is for the rich man to enter into the kingdom, “We just don’t believe that our wealth can be a barrier to entering the kingdom of God.” Again, when he uses the word “We” he is speaking of himself and the Christians to whom he is writing the book.

The book is confusing because the author uses Scripture which is teaching that wealth will keep the unsaved people from faith in Christ and applying it to professing Christians. The unavoidable result will be for one to doubt their salvation. This is dangerous.

Enough for now; there is more that I could write, but I think I have sufficiently expressed my conclusions. ( )
  LeviDeatrick | Apr 12, 2016 |
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