“RADICAL” by David Platt book review by @brucefrank1

I recently read the book Radical by David Platt.  I can honestly say it challenged me as much as any book (other than the Bible) has in recent memory.  The book is subtitled “taking back your faith from the American dream”, and Platt challenges you to consider how culture has tamed how radical the call to be a Christ follower really is. It is strong medicine but is delivered with both a humble and bold attitude.  I have spent a little time with David and find that to be a good reflection of who he is.  Some of the points that stuck out (or into) me were:

  • “Plainly put, a relationship with Jesus requires total, superior, and exclusive devotion.” (see Luke 9:57-62)
  • “We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle class, American Jesus.”
  • “We have been told all that is required is a one-time decision, maybe even mere intellectual assent to Jesus, but after that we need not worry about His commands, His standards, or His glory…but the gospel demands and enables us to turn from our sin, to take up our cross, to die to ourselves, and to follow Jesus.”
  • “This is the design of God among His people.  He is giving unlikely people His power so it is clear who deserves the glory for the success that takes place.”
  • “Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell.” (see Romans 1:14-16)
  • God blesses us so we can bless others and glorify His great name.  (see Psalm 23:3; Psalm 67; Isaiah 43:1-13)
  • “Anyone wanting to proclaim the glory of Christ to the ends of the earth must consider not only how to declare the gospel verbally but also how to demonstrate the gospel visibly in a world where so many are urgently hungry” (note: 26,000 children die each day due to starvation or a preventable disease).
  • “Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more?”
  • “To everyone wanting a safe, untroubled, comfortable life free from danger, stay away from Jesus…as long as Christianity looks like the American dream, we will have few problems in this world.”
  • “Things look radically different on a luxury liner than they do on a troop carrier.  The faces of soldiers preparing for battle and those of patrons enjoying their bonbons are radically different.”
  • “Ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of God.”

As you can hopefully tell, I think Radical is an excellent book written by one of God’s best.  It challenges the believer to live in a Biblical lifestyle that brings much honor to Jesus.  I do feel a couple of words of caution are warranted:

1.  An immature Christian could become very legalistic with some of the things in the book.  I define legalism as making my preferences your burden.  One could take some of the points about the church and say that ‘it is too expensive to put in carpet, A/C…that money could have fed the poor in Africa, etc…do you really love your AC more than the orphan’s life you materialistic American?’  For sure, materialism IS a bigger problem for us than too much generosity, but Biblical balance is necessary.  Briefly, I see several principles in the Bible about money that need to be held in respectful tension:

a. God gives excess to some so that they can share with those who have less. (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)

b.  Jesus’ radical generosity toward us should be to us a model and motivation for radical generosity with others.

c.  God delights in our enjoyment of His material gifts & gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17-19). (Note:if you take this principle apart from the others, you can justify an indulgent lifestyle that is not honoring to God)

d.  We are not to trust in riches but in God (Matthew 6:25-33) (watch Steve Farrar’s message on this passage)

e.  Wealth management is wise and includes how to save money, make money, spend money, and give money. (Proverbs 6:6-8; 14:24; 21:5; 3:9-10; 13:22; 10:22, etc.)

2.  It would also be easy for someone to romanticize a particular foreign Christian culture over the “indulgent Christian American” culture. Christian cultures have both darkness and light, wickedness and goodness.  The key is desperation and dependence.  It is true that we in the states often have more “stuff” that we mistakenly trust in.  David hits it well on page 60 when he states, “Instead of imagining all the things we can accomplish, we ask God to do what only He can accomplish.  Yes, we work, we plan, we organize, and we create, but we do it all while we fast, while we pray, and while we constantly confess our need for the provision of God.  Instead of dependence on ourselves, we express radical desperation for the power of His Spirit, and we trust that Jesus stands ready to give us everything we ask for so that He might make much of our Father in the world.”

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