If the chapter titles of David Platt’s Radical were written to describe the contents of said chapters, they might read as follows:
Chapter 1: A challenge to comfortable Christianity
Chapter 2: A radical gospel which requires a radical response
Chapter 3: The American way of self-reliance vs. God’s way of Christ dependence
Chapter 4: God’s purposes in the world aren’t just for YOU, they’re for the WHOLE WORLD
Chapter 5: God’s goal is reproducing disciples, not isolating followers
Chapter 6: Following Christ means selling all we have and giving to the poor
Chapter 7: If we don’t share the gospel with the world, the world is damned.
Chapter 8: As radical followers of Christ, we have a guarantee of risk and a guarantee of reward
Chapter 9: A challenge for believers to become radicals by 1) praying for the entire world, 2) reading through the entire Word, 3) sacrificing money for a specific purpose, 4) spending at least one week in another context, and 5) committing their lives to a multiplying community
All in all, it’s a decent book. It is effective at promoting its main point, that is, to issue a wake up call to comfortable American Christians. It’s highly readable, with lots of stories to make the page-turning even easier.
On the down side, Radical has the potential of de-emphasizing the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Platt’s emphasis on the radical response of a true believer through actions such as selling possessions and giving to the poor, taking the gospel to the whole world, and taking risks for the sake of Christ may cause some readers to miss that this is only the RESPONSE to the FREE gift of God in Christ Jesus. One is not saved BECAUSE one sells all of his possessions—he sells all his possessions BECAUSE he has been saved freely.
Furthermore, Platt’s emphasis on “exciting” radicality through social justice activism may cause believers to undervalue and therefore ignore the less-exciting but no less radical actions that Christ calls His followers to. Christ has not only called his followers to give to the poor. He has also called them to live lives of radical forgiveness, of radical dependence, of radical trust. These things are just as radical as the showy actions of social justice—perhaps even more radical because they’re silent, they’re unlikely to result in the world’s (or the church’s) acclaim. They’re what Kevin DeYoung might call “faithful plodding.”
Overall, Platt’s Radical is a good book, but believers should be careful to not consider it the be-all, end-all of the radical Christian life. Read this book. Let it issue a challenge to your comfortable Christianity. But then turn your eyes towards the word of God and see what radical acts God might be calling you to through the pages of Scripture.
Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis:Platt issues a challenge to comfortable Christianity–and the illusion that the Christian life equals the American dream.
Recommendation: Worth reading, but ultimately, take your view of what “radical” Christianity looks like from the pages of Scripture rather than simply taking Platt’s angle on it.
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