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Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream Paperback – May 4, 2010
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IS JESUS WORTH THIS TO YOU?"Do you believe that Jesus is worth abandoning everything for? Do you believe him enough to obey him and to follow him wherever he leads, even when the crowds in our culture?maybe even our churches?turn the other way?"
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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. (Now, I think, found at "radical.net/series/radical-what-the-gospel-demands")
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: [...] Thanks!
I love the fact that David here is speaking in RADICAL terms and presenting scripture very clearly. I needed to read this book, and so do you if you're reading my review. People seem to be complaining that David has too much of a 'missionary' emphasis in this book. This book isn't just about 'being a missionary', it's about creating a lifestyle that is worthy of our walk.
Sometimes it really does take the 'go-getter' to help other people grasp the hard realities. That's what this book is all about. Am I challenged to start opening up about my faith? Am I challenged to go to Asia or Africa and share God's Word? These are questions we really do need to ask. I think it's really worth reading the There Is No Plan B chapter at least twice. This will help us get the reality that David is after. I admit, I'm not completely finished reading this book, but I just read the There Is No Plan B chapter, but it made me want to write this review.
David wants us to have 'missionary' minds, God wants us to have 'missionary' minds.
Jesus really did say, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation". David isn't saying go plunk yourself into the remote tribes of Africa, he's saying we need to have this kind of mind-set with anyone and everyone. We need to get off our butts, turn off the TV and go tell someone what excites you about the Bible. I get excited about the Bible. There's a time and place for the TV, in it's rightful place, and I say this because I've had the same problem for years. We get spiritually lazy,......
If you're reading my review, do yourself a favor and try reading a chapter or two along with your other devotionals. You'll get through it quicker this way, and there's only nine chapters, so that one week and two days. Get cracking!
Most recent customer reviews
Quick read. This is good to read between more heady books.
Call for Christian minimalism and gospel message focus.