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Not So Radical,
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This review is from: Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (Paperback)
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!
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Showing 1-10 of 73 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 5, 2010 9:16:15 PM PDT
While I haven't read this book, I have heard David Platt preach in person at his current church on many occasions. I wanted to state that he's one pastor who does not preach watered-down messages. He steps all over people's toes which I love about his sermons. Yes, in my opinion, most mega churches do have pastors who preach seeker-friendly, feel-good sermons, which honestly, make me want to throw up. However, that's not the case with David Platt. If you're interested in hearing a sermon or two from him, you can find them on iTunes under "The Church at Brook Hills."
Posted on Jul 6, 2010 9:49:14 AM PDT
K. Dover says:
I think this review is pathetic, distorts what the book says, and the charge that the pastor and church waters down the message for American consumers is completely inaccurate. I have heard the pastor preach several messages and and know what the church is doing. If Christians do the five things suggested, it would be radical as most professing Christians do practically nothing. From what is said in the review, the writer shows that he knows nothing about the pastor or the church.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 6, 2010 10:32:23 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 6, 2010 10:34:50 AM PDT
D. MILLS says:
Actually, I am familiar with the pastor and the church. However, I made a conscious decision to limit the review to the book ONLY. And if one were to do what the writer suggests in this book, then one would indeed be doing more than most professing Christians do. But just because you're doing more than the Joneses doesn't make it radical.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 6, 2010 11:13:47 AM PDT
At the risk or sounding rude or inconsiderate, you must not be too familiar with David Platt or you'd know he doesn't preach watered down messages which you alluded to in your first review/comment on the book. His sermons are just the opposite.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 8, 2010 10:51:55 AM PDT
I understand what you're saying, but criticizing the pastor for not meeting your defintion of "radical" is not the right approach. I agree with the poster who said that doing the five things called for in the book would be EXTREME to most American Christians. Your idealism is notable, but in this age of "fast food, feel good" Christianity your approach would be sadly rejected.
The American church needs to wake up from its current slumber. Your approach would throw water on their faces which may result in short term obedience, but long term rejection. Any approach needs to make incremental changes in Christians habits that over time become life long practices. If we could just follow the steps outlined in the book and make them part of our lives the Holy Spirit will move us to go further "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" 2 Corinthians 3:18. Now that is what I call radical!
Posted on Jul 9, 2010 6:53:32 AM PDT
"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!"
See, you lost your argument when you say "if need be, go visit". Platt advocates that you GO, period. I would imagine that once you begin to pursue this course, you would as an individual or small group narrow down your focus to one country/region/village and you would only go there, but I would imagine Platt wasn't going to create that rule in the book.
The Radical Experiment is light in scope, but as a pastor I can tell you that it is extreme for the average churchgoer. It's a good place to start, and I commend Platt and Brook Hills for starting. The book provides clear examples of people in his church that have gone much farther, so it is clear that the "experiment" is not the final destination.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2010 12:24:29 PM PDT
D. MILLS says:
Imagine if the Bible said anyone who wants to take his cross and follow me should start a little bit at a time. The first few weeks take up your cross and follow me for about fifteen minutes per day, and you don't have to take up your cross on days when "Dancing with the Stars" is on. Then little by little increase the amount of time you take up your cross and follow me.
I realize that the birds have nests and the foxes have holes, so when you follow me, make sure you arrange ahead of time for accommodations, and make sure you bring enough bottled water. Before you make a commitment to come, go back home and talk about it with your parents, and think about it. Maybe you can start off following me one day a week or just on your summer vacation. Then go home and rest. You can make more of a commitment if you feel like it later. I just want to make sure you don't burn out or become disinterested. That's extreme enough for now.
I remember when one of my friends got her first boyfriend. They just fell in love. She wanted to spend all her time with him. Every thought was consumed with him. I didn't see as much of her as before, but I was happy for her because he was a nice guy. They're still together to this day.
That's the way it's supposed to be with Jesus. You just fall in love so much with Jesus that personal ultimate satisfaction just doesn't seem important anymore. Sadly in our culture of high divorce rates even among Christians, total devotion is unheard of. Sure orphans are starving and Christians are in prison, but the "American Idol" finals are on tonight.
With respect to "going", Brook Hills has over a dozen short-term mission trips/vacations ranging from one to two weeks. The amount of money spent on these trips would be enough to support about two dozen church orphan homes in Cambodia for a year. Bob Finley has written a book entitled "Reformation in Foreign Missions". In it he explains how indigenous missionaries can be more effective and efficient in reaching communities.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2010 5:10:04 PM PDT
Nice shot at the church, calling their mission trips "vacations". How connected to the church are you to be able to make a shot like that?
So you're saying that American Christians that may want to go overseas on a short-term trip can't unless they stay permanently. You've obviously never met anyone that went on a short-term trip and while there acquire a passion to do more and wind up becoming permanent missionaries. Your assertion that short-term trips are wasteful would stifle what I've witnessed personally.
Indigenous missionaries are the best thing long-term....but you need the short-term to open people's eyes up, draw them into missions, and draw everyone up to pray, donate, and participate in helping that community become evangelized.
Posted on Jul 26, 2010 9:01:50 AM PDT
P. Fender-Martens says:
I really don't understand the "going" for a week part. If you were really going to do something while you were there, as a Dr. or even a nurse I could see it, but just going ? Why not send your $3,000.00 for air fare instead?
Posted on Jul 26, 2010 12:57:59 PM PDT
Pizza Guy says:
I just finished Dr. Platt's book and am on my second time through. I'm a little slow and would like for it to soak in thoroughly. I enjoyed reading the story on your blog about the air-conditioned room in Honduras and the big spider you killed. Thankfully the chickens got the spider in the morning and you got a good night's rest.
The target audience of the book is American Christians who go to church on Sunday and walk away and live like the world the rest of the time. Most people in the United States, including Christians, are consumed with ball practice, Dancing with the Stars (as you say), their 401k, and what they are are going to do on vacation.
I took the time to research Dr. Platt and his church, and what they are doing is in fact radical when compared to the American Dream of living behind a white picket fence and saving for a retirement that does not include serving anyone, but serving yourself. The five steps that he prescribes in the book is a giant step in the right direction of being sold out to Jesus Christ. We all need that.
Living in God's Smile,