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Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream Paperback – May 4, 2010
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Responses to Radical
“In his compelling new book, Radical, David Platt delivers a powerful picture of the church in America today that, on key points, stands in sharp contrast to what the Bible shows us about the person and purpose of Jesus Christ. David challenges Christians to wake up, trade in false values rooted in the American dream, and embrace the notion that each of us is blessed by God for a global purpose—to make Christ’s glory known to all the nations! This is a must-read for every believer!”
—Wess Stafford, president and CEO, Compassion Intl.
“We have moved into a generation of young leaders who have a passion to surrender the American dream if necessary in order to embrace fully, compassionately, and wholeheartedly a bigger dream—the Great Commission. I have never been challenged by an author more than I have by David Platt. Read Radical, be blessed, and be changed.”
—Johnny Hunt, president, Southern Baptist Convention, and pastor, First Baptist Church of Woodstock
“Radical will cause you to bounce on a spectrum between two words: ouch and amen. Tough truths do that. They challenge us to examine our lives and then choose the lasting over the temporary. Read Radical if you’re ready to live differently.”
—Gregg Matte, senior pastor, First Baptist Church of Houston
“David Platt’s book will leave anyone who sincerely engages with his challenge dissatisfied—and faced with a decision: What will authentic faith look like in my life? This book has the potential to revitalize churches today to practice a radical, biblical lifestyle that can transform society and reach a lost world.”
—Jerry Rankin, president, International Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention
“The church of the Lord Jesus has been seduced by a skilled seductress: the American dream. David Platt exposes this enemy of authentic Christianity and provides a way of escape through a radical faith that leads to a radical obedience. I am not the same after reading it. I trust that will also be true for you.”
—Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“It is almost impossible to keep the idols of our own culture from influencing us, whether we want it to happen or not. This is certainly true when it comes to the so-called American dream. We need our eyes opened! We need to be called out! In this challenging and thoughtful book, David Platt shows us the way to live for Someone and something bigger.”
—Darrin Patrick, founding pastor, The Journey, St. Louis
“Sometimes people will commend a book by saying, ‘You won’t want to put it down.’ I can’t say that about this book. You’ll want to put it down, many times. If you’re like me, as you read David Platt’s Radical, you’ll find yourself uncomfortably targeted by the Holy Spirit. You’ll see just how acclimated you are to the American dream. But you’ll find here another Way, one you know to be true, because you’ve heard it before in the words of the Lord Jesus, perhaps most forcefully in the simple call ‘Follow me.’”
—Russell D. Moore, dean, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Through solid examination of the Scriptures and compelling testimonies from believers enduring persecution, my friend David Platt pulls back the curtain on subtle dangers weakening the church in our Western culture. Radical is the urgent call we need to care more about the spiritually lost and physically impoverished people of the world.”
—Ed Stetzer, president, LifeWay Research
About the Author
Dr. David Platt, President of the International Mission Board, is deeply devoted to Christ and His Word. David’s first love in ministry is making disciples, sharing, showing, and teaching God’s Word in everyday life. He has traveled extensively to serve alongside church leaders throughout the United States and around the world.
A life-long learner, David has earned two undergraduate and three advanced degrees. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (A.B.J.) from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master of Theology (Th.M) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He previously served at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary as Dean of Chapel and Assistant Professor of Expository Preaching and Apologetics, Staff Evangelist at Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans, and eight years as the Senior Pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL.
David founded Radical (Radical.net), a ministry devoted to serving churches and disseminating disciple-making resources toward the end that the gospel might be made known in all nations.
David and his wife Heather have four children, Caleb, Joshua, Mara Ruth, and Isaiah.
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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!
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (NIV) This verse along with the other New Testament writings from the apostles places a much stronger emphasis on living the Christian life than it does on evangelism. It feels like Platt encourages readers to give up the American Dream, take a mission trip to a third-world country, and they can be saved! It feels like if you are not compelled to do just that, then something is wrong with your Christianity!
I do think evangelism is an important aspect of Christianity, but I don't think it is the only aspect. If one doesn't have the proper motivation, then I think you fall into the trap of trying to earn your salvation.
As a result, my wife and I stepped out in faith and God directed us to international adoption: we've adopted our first and are in the middle of adopting our second. The house upside down on the cover is not symbolic, it's literally what's happened to us: but for possibly the first time in our lives our willing to truly step out and follow God with abandon is leading us down roads we've never traveled to show love to those we would have never considered. I agree with others that it's hard not to turn this book into law (even though Platt says not to do that) but having been knocked out of my bubble, even just a little bit, I would never trade the results and would never go back.