Review of Radical by David Platt

Written by Joel on February 9th, 2011


I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

David Platt, in Radical, challenges the prosperity Gospel which teaches that God wants Christians to be wealthy, comfortable, and happy. No, Platt says, consistently arguing throughout the book that to be a Christian means to accept a difficult life. What if we take Jesus at face value when he says unless you abandon your life, take up your cross and follow me then you cannot be my disciple? What if Christ really did mean for some to sell everything they owned and give it to the poor? Radical challenges readers to take these claims and challenges seriously.

There is a considerable focus on Bible study. Platt recounts Bible study programs launched at the mega-church he pastors. However, It was after Platt visited an underground church in another country that he discovered the real power of Bible study. He was impressed with the simple meeting places and the interest in simply reading scripture together. The author laments that hunger for Bible study is not as prevalent in The United States.

Platt puts heavy emphasis on missions, and understands the Great Commission to apply to all Christians. While mission is understood to take place everywhere within normal life including school or work, Platt also argues that literally going into all the world is the responsibility of every Christian. He makes this explicit in the one year challenge at the end of the book by encouraging the reader to spend two percent of their time (or 2 weeks) in a different context on mission work.

Radical recognizes that the church is in the business of making disciples, and that this is a slow relationship-intensive process. Platt is highly suspicious of the church growth movement which claims that the right programs and techniques can mass produce disciples. He questions whether this is a good goal in the first place.

In case you haven’t been converted yet, chapter seven is basically an extended evangelic tract. All have sinned, everyone needs forgiveness, Christ offers forgiveness, you need Christ. This and other portions of the book hint at Platt’s particular brand of evangelicalism: “[T]hat still leaves 4.5 billion who, if the gospel is true, at this very moment are separated from God in their sin and (assuming nothing changes) will spend an eternity in hell. Again, 4.5 billion.” (page 76) How unfortunate that in Platt’s salvation theology, God’s grace is not sufficient to cover the ignorance of Christ. One could also question (though not within the scope of a book review), if this is entirely biblical in the first place.

I found Radical to be an encouraging work which challenges Christians to take their faith more seriously. It calls for high risk, because Christ is worth it all. If you can tolerate the fundamentalist theology when it comes to soteriology (how people are saved), this is a worthy book which challenges American Christians in particular to take their faith more seriously, and to stop asking “what’s in Christianity for me?”


 

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