1,450 of 1,486 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2010
My first impression of "Radical," just from skimming the dust jacket, mirrored the critical review which has been deemed most helpful. I came very close to missing the blessing God had for me through this book.
However as I read "Radical," reflected on it's message, saw its impact on myself and my friends, and pondered the significance of this runaway best seller, my perspective changed completely and I was led to a deep conviction that God is working through this book in an unusual way. I subsequently volunteered to analyze and review the significance of "Radical" for "Mission Frontiers," a major mission strategy magazine. [Google "Mission Frontiers Radical" for a more detailed analysis than fits here.]
Before dismissing "Radical" based on nothing more than the plausibility of a negative review, I encourage you to use Amazon's "look inside" feature or read the first chapter, available free on-line [Google "Someone Worth Losing Everything For"]. Instead of an "outsider" criticizing the Church, you'll find a well-credentialed insider inviting you to join his struggle to understand and close the gap between what he reads in Scripture and how we have redefined Jesus to affirm the way we live.
A friend just read "Radical" and emailed me: "This book haunts me: `My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus' words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to Him.' - David Platt"
David Platt's book "Radical" reflects a wider move of God through which He is stirring His people to live radically for Him to finish discipling all nations (Mt. 24:14 and Mt 28:18-20).
"Radical" overlaps heavily with Francis Chan's Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God in urging God's people to live "all out" for Jesus, but puts forth a much clearer picture of the global purposes which God is working to accomplish through His people, and a more practical suggestion for how God's people can begin intentionally engaging together in obeying God and impacting His world.
In the first chapter Dr. Platt develops Dietrich Bonhoeffer's quote "[the first call every Christian experiences is] the call to abandon the attachments of this world." Throughout his book, Platt urges us to discover Jesus (not heaven) as our sole treasure, to lay aside everything that keeps us from pursuing Him above all else, and to realize that "It's Not About Me." [Google the free excerpt from "Radical" available on line at "Mission Frontiers Radical not about me".]
The final chapter of "Radical" opens:
"Throughout this book we have explored a variety of bold claims about our purpose in life that are contained in the gospel yet contradicted in the American dream. Claims such as these: Real success is found in radical sacrifice. Ultimate satisfaction is not found in making much of ourselves but in making much of God. The purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live. Meaning is found in community, not individualism; joy is found in generosity, not materialism; and truth is found in Christ, not universalism. Ultimately Jesus is a reward worth risking everything to know, experience and enjoy."
Having presented such a challenge, Dr. Platt then takes a surprising departure which seems to have thrown several other reviewers. Instead of calling for immediate dramatic change, as most "high commitment" books do, he suggests the starting point of a growth path which any group can embrace together to pursue greater passion for Jesus and obedience to His global purposes.
The "Radical Experiment" is not radical in where it starts, but in the direction it leads. It is much more like Jesus' initial call to Peter and Andrew in Matthew 4:19--to follow Jesus and let Him change us into effective disciplers--than it is to the kind of radical Luke 14 challenge I and my missionary colleagues like to present.
Like some negative reviewers, I was initially misled into dismissing "Radical" by the low initial commitment required in the "Radical Experiment." "What," I asked myself, "is radical about reading through the Bible in a year, or giving 2% of your time or to a specific cause?" But such a dismissal misses the whole thrust of Dr. Platt's book.
"Radical" will challenge most readers in the healthiest of ways, not simply to agree with what is wrong with the Western Church, but to take practical steps to join others in living for God's global kingdom. As the Chinese proverb says, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
From the one out of eight reviews of "Radical" which are negative, it is apparent that:
- some will read "Radical" as a guilt trip or an appeal for wealth distribution,
- others will question Dr. Platt's motives, lifestyle or position, and
- those who love money will mock the idea of living sacrificially as the Pharisees did.
"The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus" (Lk 16:14 NIV).
But those reactions seem generally to be the result of existing bias or careless misreading of the book.
I find two major weaknesses in the book itself:
1. Extracted from the caring tone of Platt's audio presentations, some will experience the book as a guilt trip. For those with an oversensitivity toward personal guilt for the state of the church, I recommend the audio version Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, or the free original sermon series which I found much richer than the book itself. [Google "Brook Hills Media Radical"]
2. While Dr. Platt effectively develops God's intention for those He has blessed to join Him in caring for the poor, inexperienced Western Christians far too often translate this simplistically as "giving to the poor." And this creates more problems than it solves. Unfortunately the current edition of "Radical" does nothing to address this problem (a later edit may), but to his credit Dr. Platt asks that all of his small group leaders read Fikkert and Corbett's When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Yourself.
In my experience, "Radical" is most suitable for three audiences:
- Those disillusioned with self-centered "Christianity Lite" will generally find "Radical" both challenging and refreshing.
- Those who have never considered Biblical obedience as an alternative to self-serving religion will find "Radical" a healthy challenge.
- Most real friends of the True King will find value in "Radical" and want to share it with others.
[Toward multiplying the circulation of "Radical," "Mission Frontiers" has arranged a bulk discount for its reader. Google "Mission Frontiers Radical not about me"]
"Radical" is NOT likely to be appreciated by those who
- are prone to feelings of guilt,
- want to justify their attachment to the things of this world, or
- are not prepared to give their lives to drawing close to Jesus and joining Him in His global purpose.
For a mature discussion of the danger of some experiencing "Radical" as a guilt trip, see the concerns of Kevin DeYoung and the response he invited from Dr. Platt, which you can find by googling "DeYoung Platt Root of Radical."
REPRESENTATIVE OF THE IMPACT OF "RADICAL":
The following edited story typifies the impact of Dr. Platt's message. [Find the original by googling "Platt foster care office"]:
Dr. Platt asked a foster care office in Birmingham how many families they would need to care for all the children. They laughed. He asked again. They said 150 families. Platt preached on orphan care from James 1 (v. 27 in particular), and 160 families signed up to serve as foster care families.
Today, 11/7/2010, I have moved the following items to a comment under today's date:
- my own transformation of perspective toward "Radical,"
- how God is using "Radical" like He has used "Crazy Love,"
- my unusual involvement in promoting "Radical," and
- related free resources to help you live radically for our King.
To see the kind of practical applications Radical is stirring, google "Waterbrook Multnomah Radical action plan."
DISCLAIMER: I did NOT receive a copy of "Radical" or any other compensation for this review or any other analysis or promotion of "Radical." All of my research and endorsement of this book is a free gift offered in service to my King.
NOTE: If you have found this review helpful, please register that with the button below. Thanks!
228 of 239 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2010
I finished reading David Platt's book Radical, while waiting for a flight from New Delhi to Hyderabad, India. The book had been recommended to me by several friends, so I decided to throw it in my bag for my recent tour (training pastors in the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Kenya and South Africa). The book calls us to a much deeper commitment to following Christ, and reaching others - two themes that get my blood going. So thanks to David Platt for stoking the fire. For the most part the book accomplished its mission well.
On the other hand, there were places where Platt got my blood boiling in a not-so-helpful way - a little too radical. In an effort to make his points, I felt that Platt pressed too hard, and stretched the supporting evidence. I would chalk it up to "too much of a good thing." Here are my (hopefully) gentle critiques:
1. I feel like a radical life for Christ needs to be motivated by radical love for Christ. We need to be givers, but cheerful ones, not from compulsion. I felt there was a little too much compulsion in Platt's book. I didn't find much sense of cheer. While I can tell that Platt is on the move from his legalistic upbringin, I get the feeling that he has a way to go. At several points in the book I got the distinct feeling that Platt was preaching at me, instead of to me (maybe before the book went to print he had already received that feedback....he seems to apologize on p. 214). In my opinion there wasn't nearly enough of "the love Christ compels me" and a little too much of "come on, you guys, you should be ashamed of yourselves!" Granted, we all need a kick in the pants now and then, but there's a line we can cross where we can "exasperate our children," particularly if you are a child who wants to do what is right. Count me among the exasperated.
2. Platt tends to overstate things a bit in order to make a point, particularly in his chapter How Much is Enough, critiquing the American dream:
a. "Caring for the poor is one natural overflow and a necessary evidence of the presence of Christ in our hearts. If there is no sign of caring for the poor in our lives, then there is reason to at least question whether Christ is in our hearts." (p.110)
b. "If our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is really in us at all." (p.111)
c. (on the story of Lazarus) "This story illustrates God's response to the needs of the poor." (p. 114)
d. "Isn't the hidden assumption among many Christians in our culture that if we follow God, things will go well for us materially? Such thinking is explicit in "health and wealth" teaching, and it is implicit in the lives of Christians whose use of possessions looks virtually the same as that of our non-Christian neighbors." (p.117)
For me, these overgeneralizations tended to lessen, not increase, the impact of his argument.
3. Platt has problems with the American church and I share his pain. But while He diagnoses the disease as largely spiritual, I think it is largely sociological. The church turning in on itself is quite natural - it is what organizations naturally do. By virtue of being organized together, over time, we get to know each other. As we get to know each other we become aware of each others' concerns. As we become aware of each others' concerns, we create programs to meet those concerns. In the end, our own concerns end up being plenty to keep us busy, and the mission is largely forgotten. It is purely natural. Of course, God does not call us to natural, but to supernatural. What I see happening in the American church is not unspiritual as related to spiritual, but natural as related to supernatural. I think the hearts of most Christians are well-meaning. I think they are just trapped in a self-reinforcing system where they can't see beyond our own needs. If nothing else, I can see Platt's book as a huge favor to get us to look up and see there is far much more beyond ourselves.
4. There is a lot of classic either/or (black/white) thinking in this book. For example, "We can stand with the starving or with the overfed. We can identify with poor Lazarus on his way to heaven or with the rich man on his way to hell. We can embrace Jesus while we give away our wealth, or we can walk away from Jesus while we hoard our wealth." I'm not sure that those are the only choices. There may be some other combinations or shades of gray, but Platt doesn't allow for the possibility of being interested in the plight of the rich man, only Lazarus. In response I would cite Jesus' second great commandment, "love your neighbor as yourself" and his great commission, "go into all the world." He could has said, "love your poor neighbor as yourself" but Jesus is interested in everyone, rich and poor, Lazarus and rich man. He could have said, "go into all the poor world" but Jesus is broad, not narrow, in his instructions. Jesus told us to go into all the socially and economically diverse world.
5. It would be possible, not popular, to make the argument that the church has spent more of its efforts reaching the poor, than the rich. Perhaps not in America, where the cost of the mega-model draws our attention to the rich suburbs (nearly all of the top churches in America being precisely located). But in other parts of the world, where poverty reigns, the church has done little to target political and business leaders, instead going to the people with the least power, and least ability, to change the system.
6. In some cases possessing great status and wealth may be precisely what God wants for a person's calling (see Joseph); at other times such wealth and status should be forsaken (see Moses). One size does not fit all. Platt carefully "cherry picks" the passages that fit his argument.
7. Platt tries to make me feel guilty for the price I pay for food, relative to "half the world struggling today to find food, water, and shelter with the same amount of money I spend on french fries for lunch." This is a superficial argument, and contrasts like this abound in our world. Having just come from the Philippines I could say that they are enjoying much better pineapple than I am where I live, and a fraction of the cost. In India, their transportation costs (per person/per mile) are pennies on the dollar. So? The cost of something on one culture, relative to another, is sexy not substantive.
8. Culture is water to fish. If you live in it, it's hard to describe; if you live outside of it, it's hard to understand. I wonder if the two-thirds world misunderstands America about as much as America misunderstands the two-thirds world, in their actual experience. If so, Platt seems to reinforce these misunderstandings. Many in the two-thirds world live very simple lives, with a daily diet of inexpensive rice and chicken. They do not have electric bills, insurance, health care, automobile repairs, college bills, a mortgage or debt. (Remind me again, who am I supposed to be feeling sorry for?) I guess what I am saying is that Americans are not nearly as "wealthy" as people think. At times, I have to say, when I travel in the two-thirds world, I don't feel as guilty, as I do jealous. I think they may be rich in ways that matter.
9. I think it is important to make a distinction between struggling and suffering. Platt makes no such distinction, putting the cost of daily living on par with how many children die of malnutrition every year. It seems to me that a believer's primary concern should be those who are suffering, a smaller subset of those who are struggling, and certainly a much smaller number than "half the world." Ironically, it is a particularly western point of view to blur the two. As Americans, we don't like to struggle (I think we think it is suffering), but sometimes we are spiritually richer for it. After all, it is in the Lord's prayer where we read, "Give us this day our daily bread." For most people in the world, this prayer actually makes sense, and the people praying it are blessed for doing so.
10. I think Platt's interpretation of the rich young ruler negatively colors his perspective on wealth throughout the book. I like that story a lot, but I don't come at it from a money-centric angle. Simply put I don't think Jesus talked with the man because he was interested in the topic of money. I think he talked with the young man about the topic of money because he was interested in the young man. This was a personal challenge that came out of personal concern: "what do I still lack?" (what is in the way?). The answer? Whatever is in the way of him, and it could be (maybe often is) money. But Jesus made it clear in other contexts that is it could be relationships (mothers, brothers, sons or daughters) or something else valuable to us, like our time, our job, or our ideas. It would be a mistake to say that money is everyone's issue, or every American's.
11. One question that naturally arises for Platt and his church, which is of the "rubber meets the road" variety: What are they doing with the greatest accumulated asset of their ministry - their multi-million dollar church facility? He is obviously aware of the question, but there is not even so much as an oblique answer ("Every Sunday we gather in a multimillion-dollar building with millions of dollars in vehicles parked outside" (p.115). Platt comments negatively on how much money has been spent by others on such edifices (I pastor a multi-national church where we spend 13% on facilities in the US and less overseas, so I appreciate frugality here). Platt even suggests downsizing our homes (something else I am all for). But Platt doesn't take his reasoning to its natural, radical conclusion: Shouldn't the church sell its "home" and give the proceeds to the poor? I raise the question, not because I think they should sell their building, because I'm not sure they should. I raise the question to point out that there are times where it is more strategic for the overall mission to keep an asset than to give it away. The old fable, "Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg" comes to mind. At a certain point I don't become more effective for Christ without a car (or phone, or laptop, or roof over my head), but less effective. For example, I work closely with an apostolic leader in India, and I think he needs to have more in the way of resources, not less, even though his standard of living already exceeds that of most Indians. This makes me think that the real challenge - largely missed in Platt's book - is stewardship more than sacrifice. Shouldn't our objective be to steward the resources of the world, particularly our own, in such a way that we "seek first His kingdom and his righteousness"?
12. I wish that Platt would have spent more time on Christian strategies to relieve suffering, beyond "give more." What is a Christian strategy for alleviating suffering altogether, beyond writing a check? For those who "have something" to "sacrifice it" only addresses matters short-term. Shouldn't we consider Jim Collins' advice to "strengthen the core" while we "expand the frontier"? Doesn't justice need to be paired with mercy? While it in no way alleviates my moral responsibility to respond generously, even sacrificially, I believe that thoughtful people want to understand how their gifts are really making a difference. The situation in Haiti comes to mind, for example. If there is a gigantic hole in the bottom of the bucket, no matter how many resources we pour in the top, we are going to end up with an empty bucket.
446 of 487 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2011
I share this author's passion for missions and generous giving. In a sense, this book is the antidote to Osteen anthropology--and in that sense, I adore it!
At the same time, however well-intended his purpose, the author has rested his arguments on poor exegesis and an incomplete survey on Scriptural teaching on wealth. More on that to come, but first a mention of some basic facts:
1) Americans have both sent and funded missionaries at a level unprecedented in the history of the Church. This is possible because of the American Dream with its free market capitalism. This cash flow rests on a consumer society. When I go to the fabric store to make a new dress for my child, I am helping the owner of the store and the original producer of the fabric to put food on their table. Would they rather have my business or my handout? If every Christian in my Bible belt town sold all their possessions to give them to the poor, we would create a larger segment of the poor through unemployment. Restaurants and businesses would have to close their doors.
2) The majority of world hunger has less to do with a lack of resources than it does with corrupt governments.
This does not, of course, mean that we ignore the poor or spend our entire income on ourselves. The Bible is clear that we are to share our resources, and that the desire to get rich--simply for the sake of getting rich--leads to all sorts of heartbreaks.
So, what does the Bible say about wealth? First, I'd start with what it does NOT say about wealth. To use the story of the rich young man as a lesson on stewardship misses the point. One must read the entire account in its full context to see this, not quote just those verses convenient to our agenda. For starters, it is preceded by the account of children coming to Jesus. We can imagine that they did not come asking what they must DO. Their innate trust led Jesus to say, "The kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Then, along comes the rich young man who falls at Jesus feet with a description of all the boxes he had checked off his religious list. Is there any box left which he must check to earn enternal life? Jesus gives him an answer which reveals the depravity of his sin and his need for God's grace! He then turns to his disciples and addresses them as, "Children" (sound familiar?) and talks about the difficulty of a rich man entering the kingdom. BUT--and this is what Platt fails to mention--he finishes this by saying, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." His disciples don't quite get it--Peter argues for all they've done! And Jesus affirms their sacrifice, but this sacrifice is not the saving act. It is God who does the impossible, creating a path to righteousness that we could never attain on our own.
While Platt has the occasional caveat that we can't earn salvation and that we are not all required to "sell all our stuff," the overall impression of the book, page after page after page, is that if we don't sell all our stuff, we are somehow falling short. (In fact, if anyone feels that their salvation is somehow on the line after reading this book, I highly suggest reading through Galatians.)
Other exegetical problems lie with things like the assertion that God "hates" sinners, pulled from the psalms (the psalms are properly read as our words to God, a cathartic practice for our cleansing and healing, NOT for teaching doctrine; unless, of course, we think that God affirms dashing the heads of infants against stones). Or saying that people are going to hell because we haven't brought them the gospel, rather than because of their own rejection of the general knowledge of God given through the world itself. Or saying that all people are called to foreign missions ("Are all apostles?" 1 Cor 12:29).
Meanwhile, if you are going to write on stewardship of wealth, you've got to give the whole picture. Wealth is not inherently evil (note Abraham, Joseph, Job, Daniel, Lydia, etc.). As we saw above, our ability to send missionaries is furthered by the cash flow of a consumer society. Rather, wealthy people are called upon to give willingly, cheerfully and generously as need arrives. This is quite different than saying "You must downsize your house" (after all, one family's downsize is another family's dreamhome!)
This is not to say that God couldn't call someone sell it all, or even downsize, for the cause--in fact, I'm very willing to believe that he sometimes does, and I personally must always be open to that call--but this is not the norm. In fact, particularly generous giving is described as a special gift not given to all, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us... if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously..." Romans 12:6,8
Do I see problems with materialism in America? Absolutely. If a Christian is spending beyond his means to the point that he can't share a portion of his income, then he needs to reasses his stewardship. (I'd suggest reading Affluenza.)
My biggest problem, ultimately, is that this book "inspires" us to take the gospel based on some sort of survivor-guilt. We do not take the gospel to prove anything to God, ourselves, or anyone else. We do it because Christ's love compels us. "We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 2 Cor 4:2.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
It's been a few days since I turned the last page of Platt's Radical and I'm still unable to identify the source of my discomfort. The book is wildly successful by any measure. It racks up sales and plaudits in equal measure and yet, I find myself in disagreement with the majority opinion as to the quality of this volume.
The message, convoluted and scattered as it is, is sound. The sub-titled idea of separating Christian faith from the materialism of American life threads its way throughout the chapters. The cost of following Jesus (cf. Luke 9:57-62) has largely been lost in the program-laden and comfortable church of today and Platt attempts to steer the reader's thinking to the spiritual benefits of sacrifice in the service of His Lordship.
Living sacrificially, in terms of our time, treasure and talents, is encouraged by Pastor Platt through equal parts illustration and Scriptural authority. The Spirit will nudge you as you contrast your church home and life with those in the majority world who may, the very next day, give of their life in order to remain faithful to the Lord. You will begin to see many areas of your life in which material blessings have become a millstone around your neck that impedes the full expression of your faith.
The discomfort in reading the book for me came in terms of the author himself. The chapters are filled with Platt's globe-trotting, suspense-filled-secret church meetings and philosophical musings while sitting in the Sudanese desert. Does all of this travel come for free? Did the fistful of degrees earned in his short life come without tuition, books and board? The reader cannot help but contrast the author and the message he wants to deliver and find them incongruent.
136 of 154 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2010
In Radical, David Platt looks at how Christianity in America has become far too comfortable. He suggests that Americans have become more interested in pursuing the "American dream" than in fulfilling their obligations to Christ. Platt mentions that many Christians will go so far as to twist the Word of God to mean what they desire it to mean. With this in mind, Platt challenges the reader to a year-long journey to make radical changes for the cause of Christ.
Radical is the no-excuse, no-holds-barred work of a pastor who is fed up with what Christianity has become in America. In his passionate way, David Platt shares his burden about a Christian religion that has strayed far from what it is supposed to be. His book teaches and convicts readers. His goal is to help Christians see what they're missing out on by holding back in their faith.
The book contains stories that will make you weep, as well as those that will shock you. It gives the readers a bold look at where Christians are failing in today's society and how to bring about a positive change. Platt speaks with no apologies, and his message will undoubtedly raise some eyebrows, especially among the "religious" crowd. However, I found his radical statements to be true and straight down the line of what the Bible teaches.
Say "goodbye" to watered-down theology and "feel good" messages. While Platt's message may not be popular, I believe it is God-sent.
This book was reviewed as part of the "Blogging for Books" program by Random House. All opinions expressed were my own.
103 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2010
Radical, David Platt's new book (his first) is a challenge to the American church to take back our faith from the "American Dream." Platt, the pastor of four-thousand member The Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, pulls no punches, and somehow manages to disturb without offending.
In nine short and very readable chapters, he makes the case for a radical Christian faith--which SHOULD be the norm. He shows the shameful poverty of our faith amid the affluence of our lifestyles. He advocates a Great Commission mindset far beyond the tidy routines of our comfortable Christianity. He says, for example,
If Jesus is who he said he is, and if his promises are as rewarding as the Bible claims they are, then we may discover that satisfaction in our lives and success in the church are not found in what our culture deems most important but in radical abandonment to Jesus.
If people are dying and going to hell without ever even knowing there is a gospel, then we clearly have no time to waste our lives on an American dream.
Why would we ever want to settle for Christianity according to our ability or settle for church according to our resources?
After eight compelling chapters filled with writing like the above, Radical concludes with The Radical Experiment, a clarion call to "One year to a life lived upside down," in which the reader is urged to commit to:
Pray for the entire world
Read through the entire Word
Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
Spend your time in another context
Commit your life to multiplying community
One might expect those challenges to seem like asking too much, particularly in light of some examples he gives. On the contrary, however, it is far more likely that the reader will be champing at the bit to rise to the challenge and respond to the call. In other words, ready to be radical.
This book was provided for review by the publisher, Multnomah Books.
565 of 664 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2010
David Platt laments the condition of today's American Christianity explaining how American Christians are caught up in seeking the same American dream and living the same luxurious lives as are the rest of the inhabitants of Babylon. He comes close to sounding like a Christian Tyler Durden as he criticizes the American Dream.
He describes how the Jesus Fish, once a symbol of Christian martyrs is now displayed on air conditioned SUV's where little Chauncey is safely strapped in his car seat. He describes how we worship God in multi-million dollar buildings and then leave driving millions of dollars worth of automobiles meanwhile giving "scraps" to those in the poverty stricken third world. He laments that we have access to Bibles and Christian teaching while much of the world has never heard of Jesus meanwhile most of us do little to bring the gospel to the rest of the world.
I agree with his assessment, but his recommended remedy is rather pathetic.
The author provides readers with a suggested response, but calling it "radical" is quite a stretch. The first of is five point plan is to read through the Bible in one year. Most Bible read through plans involve reading no more than three chapters a day, about 15 minutes. Step 2 is to pray for the world. He refers to a website which directs the participant to pray for different parts of the world organized so that you can pray for a different part of the world every day. Step 3 is to give some money away to poor people. Step 4 is to go on a one week short-term mission trip. Step 5 is to be involved in a local church congregation. This is hardly radical.
The author is a pastor at a suburban American mega church so I think he's probably used to watering down his message for American consumers.
The goal of all this is for the participant to obtain "ultimate satisfaction". It's really the same motivation as the American Dream. The goal of our Bible reading is not for training in righteousness. The goal of praying for the world is not for the furtherance of the gospel in parts of the world or for the benefit of persecuted Christians in China or Indonesia. The goal of giving money to the poor is not to be a blessing for the poor or support Christian orphan homes in Cambodia. The goal of going on a one-week short-term mission trip is not to bring the gospel to unreached people or comfort orphans and widows in their distress. No. The author sells all this as a means for American Christians to obtain "ultimate satisfaction".
It's the same goal: self satisfaction. Bend a little bit. Make a small sacrifice here or there. Then relish in the self satisfaction that you're not as materialistic as the Joneses.
Radical would be to take one's eyes off oneself. Read and study the Bible because you love God with all your heart, soul and mind. Pick a country or a few countries or a people group or a few people groups, and pray fervently for them because you love them with a love so intense. Pick an orphanage or a chain of orphanages or a ministry, and scrape and save and cut corners and give everything you possibly can because you love those orphans, and when you're thinking about buying that $3 cafe latte know that those $3 is $3 that those orphans aren't going to see. Rather than a one-week short term mission trip, devote your life to reaching a people group or area, and give your money and prayer time to helping those people, and if need be, go visit them to share your and God's love with them. It's NOT about you!
66 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2010
I had high hopes for this book because I thought it was going to address how upside down and materialistic our world has become. The American Dream that says we need to own a big house, drive nice cars, wear expensive clothes, and have fancy churches on every corner... And for the first 70 or so pages, I loved the book. Then, however, the bottom dropped out.
This book should really be called 'Evangelism 101: Evangelism in the Only Way.' I have been a Christian my entire life, and I have never heard of a requirement to travel overseas and help - or else you aren't doing your biblical duty. This is a very guilt-driven and works-driven type of theology and, in my opinion, misses the larger picture of the Bible.
The truth is that God has called each one of us according to our spiritual gifts RIGHT WHERE WE ARE. We don't all have to be exotic missionaries, and that's perfectly okay. God uses businessmen, God uses teachers, God uses farmers, and God uses car mechanics. God calls using our intellect and creativity "good." Platt seems to call these things wrong and even goes to far as to say that those who aren't missionaries sit back in comfort while others are doing what the Bible actually says to do.
The whole idea that you have to be part of some grand overseas missions trip to truly fulfill what the Bible tells us is not only dangerous, but is contrary to whole books in the Bible that instruct us to work hard, minister to our local neighbors, and plan for our future. It also gives us the mindset that where God has put us (our local community, our friends and coworkers, etc) is not as important as somewhere exotic and faraway. The truth is we can be "missionaries" right where we currently are in life.
In short, I think Platt has the right intentions (and I certainly warmly welcome missionaries who travel afar), but he makes one part of the Biblcal story the only part. He takes a handful of Bible passages about the early church and runs with them - without any regard for the rest.
I fear too many newer Christians who read this book are going to think the only way to truly please God is to evangelize a distant land. And that's exactly what's been wrong with the American church. Everyone of us needs to think of ourselves as a missionary whether we are in Sudan or at the grocery store down the street. The Bible shows us there are many ways to give back and to spread God's word. Often times in scripture this is shown by working hard in your job where you are skilled so that you then have the ability to spread your earnings to others.
Here's just a couple of verses to the contrary of Platt's book:
-"He who tills his land shall have plenty of bread, but he who chases fantasies is void of understanding." Proverbs 12:11
-"Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve kings. He won't serve obscure men." Proverbs 22:29
"Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need." Ephesians 4:28
"And that you make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, even as we instructed you; that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and may have need of nothing." 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
"Be sensible and store up precious treasures-- don't waste them like a fool." Proverbs 21:20
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2011
The first chapter pushed me to examine my own commitment to God.
That's the reason I'm willing to give him two stars. But as I continued to read, I kept asking, "Where does radical come into the book?"
I've been a serious Christian for 50 years. What he calls radical we thought of as the normal way for Christians to live. Well, not quite. True, we weren't much involved in the humanitarian aspects of Christianity, but we understood--and practiced--the disciplines. We gave generously to send missionaries into the far reaches of the world. We believed they could be more effective by going and living in foreign cultures and learning the language. That meant we were serious and committed, but I doubt that any of us thought of ourselves as radical.
This pastor of a 4,000 member church is obviously gifted and has a huge following. At least twice he mentioned his blind spot, and one of them is his inability to realize that he doesn't live a radical Christian lifestyle.
What if he lived in the slums of Birmingham, gave up his nice salary and depended on God to provide for his needs? What if he gave his money to people who already knew the language and culture in underdeveloped nations instead of making his endless trips overseas? I'd call that radical
167 of 205 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2010
It's hard to review this book. There is much to recommend about this book, especially for mature believers in Christ. However, I would have to say that I didn't really like this book and can't recommend it to read.
The authors beginning premise that American Christians have become too materialistic is correct. I cringe to see these multi-million dollar churches go up when I see homeless people sleeping on the street. I was so glad when our church decided not to go that route, but instead renovate an older building instead. I also appreciate the work of those that are called to go overseas or work in all kinds of full-time Christian ministry.
What I'm concerned about with this book is the attitude of "this is what God's call me to do, so everyone must do it." I found the same attitude in Shane Claiborne's books. The bulk of this book is about the author's journeys to dangerous places and how his own church occasionally puts off creature comforts to do church. Wonderful! Glad to see God doing these wonderful things. But why must the author make the rest of us feel guilty for not doing these things? The author pastors a large metropolitan church and has the resources to write and have a book publish. He can afford to take months away from his American home and minister overseas. However, this is not true of everyone. Some of us cannot leave our homes because we need to work everyday to support our families and (yes) those in full time Christian ministry.
On a personal note, I've long struggled with working in my little grey cube. I don't know why God hasn't made me rich enough to travel the world, having adventures while I evangelize to the far corners. Actually I do know one reason why, because I'd probably be puffed up with my pride. Maybe the greatest sacrifice I can make is not going overseas, but in learning to share Christ here at home. And one thing that encourages me (though I still get bored with my 9-5 job) is that the (admittedly too small) amount of money I can give to those in full time ministry is spreading the Word around the world.