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on July 25, 2013
How closely is the American dream connected to Biblical Christianity? Society and culture teach children to dream big and pursue personal success. Work hard and attain financial wealth. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and celebrate the attainment of your goals. Too often these mantras are repeated in congregations across the United States and lead believers to think that God's purpose is to make people successful in the world's eyes. Holiness and sacrifice are omitted. Radical living is rarely mentioned. The true object of faith is hidden behind worldly idols and misguided pursuits. What can be done to recapture the real purpose of the Christian life?

Within his book Radical, David Platt seeks to expound the Biblical purpose of the life of faith. Beginning with the great gift of salvation and the very presence of God in the life of believers, Platt builds toward a greater purpose than the American dream. Christians are to live for the glory of God and find satisfaction in knowing Him. The more one abandons the world's pursuits and dreams, the more one is freed to live for a greater purpose - making the name of God known and seeing His worth praised by peoples across the globe. When such a passion drives a person's life then radical steps are taken. Time and money are used differently. Success is measured in faithfulness rather than financial statements. Great steps are taken to live a life devoted to God.

Written in a style that easily communicates, the book is a quick read. David Platt has served as both a preaching professor and a pastor and knows how to connect with an audience. Very likely the book can be finished in a few short hours. The content is rich and thought provoking. Unfortunately, the applications at the end fall short of the soaring calls issued in the work. Telling someone to read the Bible and pray is not anything new. Although very Biblical and necessary, the call to a radical life ought to include a few more challenging thoughts than what most believers already do on a daily basis. In addition, there is a subtle inference throughout the chapters that Christians simply aren't doing enough. You should do more and more and more is constantly implied. This can lead to false guilt in those who truly are living for the Lord in the proper way. Aside from these few cautions, the book is a fine addition to the current line of books focused on breaking from the norm (Crazy Love and Not a Fan are two others). Overall, a good read.
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on April 27, 2017
This is a challenging read and really pushes a believer to examine where they stand in this life. I would challenge anyone giving this book a negative rating to really examine from where their objections stem; genuine, biblically founded concerns about accuracy or a spiritual resistance to truth.
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on September 10, 2016
This is now one of my most favorite books I have ever read. I love Joshua Harris' books because he doesn't sugarcoat and he speaks from the Bible. He speaks things in boldness and doesn't preach a "watered down" Christian faith. This book really shows how our life should be lived based off the Word and not off how our American culture perceives Christianity should be in correlation to following through with American ideals (e.g. the American dream). It is a convicting book but well worth the time. I would recommend this book to anyone.
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on June 24, 2013
This is my second time reading "Radical" and it occurred to me recently how much this book changed my life. I read the book for the first time 2 or 3 years ago while I was in seminary. I was challenged to think more radically about how I was going to spend this short, vapor-like life. I had a conversation around the same time with a pastor who was serving God in east Asia. I wasn't really thinking of overseas service at the time, but Platt's challenge from the Word helped me see that I should at least seek God's wisdom on this matter.

My wife and I committed to the Radical Experiment and vowed to spend some time outside of our normal context once I was finished with school. After spending 9 weeks in the two largest countries in Asia, God made it clear that He wanted us to spend more time abroad. As I write this review, my wife and I are preparing to head back to the US for 8 weeks, having served in east Asia for the last year.

Yet, even having spent a year serving outside of my normal context, I found this second read-through of Radical to be equally challenging. Now, I am giving more thought to what I am doing to serve the poor and needy and want to at least investigate international adoption. This book will challenge you with many tough questions, but, if you really take the time to answer them, you will find that this book and the Scripture that undergirds these challenges will transform your life into the kind of radical discipleship you've been called to.
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on March 1, 2012
I have read a lot of books of this sort and they often come off as very jaded, holier-than-thou and imbalanced. The authors usually make some very good points but tend to lose credibility by the end of the book.

David Platt does a great job of contrasting first century Christianity with our culturally syncretized, fully diluted version of Christianity today. He forces the reader to come face to face with the original teachings of Jesus as opposed to the traditional one hour per week Christianity that is the norm today.

What I love is that by the end of the book, I feel an intense need to grow in so many ways. I don't feel dumped on and I don't despair. I feel hope that this is actually possible in my life.

Another thing that I like is the fact that he remains balanced throughout the process. For many, balance is simply trying to please everybody, but that is not what he is doing. He is very direct and uncompromising when it comes to the truth. He challenges us to sacrifice to meet others physical needs, but places an equally strong emphasis on the need of every person for salvation. Many books will push one or the other. He rightfully challenges us on both areas.

This is one of my top ten books. I plan to lead others through it.
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on December 11, 2013
I didn't like this book, I'm tired of apologizing for being a Christian in America. Platt talks about how we are all called to go into all the world without any practical ways to do it. All through the book he makes the point that you need to be going further than your city, your state and your country. I get from the title that he needed to shake you up with a "radical" approach, but I completely missed the point because I felt constantly under attack.
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on July 26, 2017
His premise of making Disciples is okay, but I had questions throughout the book concerning his suggested methods. Overall I had to force myself to finish it. Just wasn't too impressed.
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on November 9, 2011
In case you haven't figured it out yet, I am reading everything I can on the missional church. Radical came highly recommended, and, after reading it, I am glad I put it off until now. Otherwise, I might have tried to copy some of the things he is doing. As it turns out, God has been leading us in much the same way; although, his emphasis on getting everyone involved in world missions by travelling to some area once a year will be a stretch for us. Platt, a pastor of mega-church in Birmingham, AL, has written a very refreshing and impacting book. He has been attempting to navigate the tension between the attractional church model and the Great Commission. As we are, he says he is on a journey in which God is showing them how to do God's mission as a church. His biggest fear "even now, is that I will hear Jesus' words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to him." (p.3)

The book opens with a critique of the American church as a whole. Platt writes: "I am convinced that we as Christ followers in American churches have embraced values and ideas that are not only unbiblical but that actually contradict the gospel we claim to believe." (p.3) "...somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves." (p.7) The American church has created for itself:

a nice middle-class Jesus...who doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream. (p.13)

Hopefully we can all see how such a mentality is not really a worship of Jesus, but of ourselves. (p.13) This is no small thing. As Platt puts it: "We may have loved a god that we made up in our minds, but the God of the Bible, we hate." (p.30)

Platt points out that the root of the problem is found in our American culture "that exalts self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and self-confidence. (p.32)

Note the contrast, however, when you diagnose the problem biblically. The modern-day gospel says, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Therefore, follow these steps, and you can be saved." Meanwhile the biblical gospel says, "You are an enemy of God, dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less cause yourself to come to life. Therefore you are radically dependent upon God to do something in your life that you could never do." (p.32)

We realize we are saved not just to be forgiven of our sins or to be assured of our eternity in heaven, but we are saved to know God. So we yearn for him. We want him so much that we abandon everything else to experience him. This is the only proper response to the revelation of God in the gospel. (p.39)

Instead of trusting in our own abilities and serving a God of our own making, the gospel beckons us to abandon ourselves to God and his mission of reaching the nations with the gospel, depending on his ability and provision. "God gave his people his image for a reason - so they might multiply his image throughout the world" through the preaching of the gospel. (p.65) "And to disconnect God's blessing from God's global purpose is to spiral downward into an unbiblical, self-saturated Christianity that misses the point of God's grace." (p.71) "...we have...drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few (e.g. missionaries) while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all." (p.73) Platt invites the reader to "let your heart be gripped, maybe for the first time, by the biblical prospect that God has designed a radically global purpose for your life...God has created us to accomplish a radically global, supremely God-exalting purpose with our lives...and God has designed our lives for a collision course with the world." (p.83)

Chapter Five shows the reader that Jesus has a surprisingly simple plan to give us a global impact - discipleship.

One of the unintended consequences of contemporary church strategies that revolve around performances, places, programs, and professionals is that somewhere along the way people get left out of the picture. But according to Jesus, people are God's method for winning the world to himself. (p.90)

Platt points out that disciple making must take place outside the four walls of the church building out in the community where people live, work, and play. The church must forsake its obsession with the attractional model and be willing to become the mobile church, to use an expression we coined at Liberty. Discipleship is more about relationships than events. Platt points out that the Great Commission not only commands us to go, but also to baptize, through which believers become identified with the church, the larger community of believers with whom we live our lives and go on mission. He writes: "...we will multiply the gospel only when we allow others to get close enough to us to see the life of Christ in action." (p.99) "Jesus' command for us to make disciples envisions a teaching role for all of us." (p.100)

This raises the bar in our own Christianity. In order to teach someone else how to pray, we need to know how to pray. In order to help someone else learn how to study the Bible, we need to be active in studying the Bible. But this is the beauty of making disciples. When we take responsibility for helping others grow in Christ, it automatically takes our own relationship with Christ to a new level. (pp.100-101)
Embracing the call to be a disciple maker requires us to listen to Bible teaching as if we will need to pass it on. It's one thing to hear a sermon for my on sake, but if I will need to share what I learn later with someone else, I will take notes. It changes everything. "It is multiplying because the people of God are no longer listening as if his Word is intended to stop with them. They are now living as if God's Word is intended to spread through them." (p.103)

Chapter Six, entitled "How Much Is Enough?," looks at how Christians should relate to the poor. "According to Jesus, you can tell someone is a follower of Christ by the fruit of his or her life, and the writers of the New Testament show us that the fruit of faith in Christ involves material concern for the poor...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...if our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is really in us at all." (pp.110-111) Platt shows how the modern obsession with glorious buildings is really an Old Covenant idea. In the New Covenant, God's temple is formed by "living stones," people, and the emphasis for us should not be on structures but people. In this chapter, the author also shows us the reason for worldly wealth - in order to have more to give. God asks us to give sacrificially "to care for the needy around us." (p.126) "But the truth is, there will continue to be millions and millions of people who do not hear as long as we continue to use spare time and spare money to reach therm. Those are two radically differing questions. What can we spare? and What will it take?" (p.129) "What would happen if together we stopped giving our scraps to the poor and started giving surplus? What if we started giving not just what we are able to give but beyond what we are able to give?" (p.130) "The lesson I learned is that the war against materialism in our hearts is exactly that; a war. It is a constant battle to resist the temptation to have more luxuries, to acquire more stuff, and to live more comfortably." (p.136) Platt points out that it is easier to ignore faceless need. Once we come to know those in need, everything changes.
As I see their faces, I realize that I have a choice. You and I both have a choice. 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. Only time will tell what you and I choose to do with this blind spot of American Christianity in our day. (p.140)

Chapter Seven deals with the urgency of preaching the gospel to those who have never heard. Platt points out that people will not be sent to hell for not hearing the gospel. Rather those who have never heard will be sent to hell for rejecting the God who created them and reveals himself through creation. Every person comes into this world with a predisposition to be God's enemy. We cannot excuse inactivity in world missions with the hope that somehow God will give the unreached a pass because they never heard about Jesus. If this were the case, the worst thing we could ever do is preach the gospel to them and thereby bring them under stricter judgment. "More than five thousand people groups, totaling approximately 1.5 billion people, are currently classified as 'unreached' and 'unengaged.'...Even worse, no one is currently doing anything to change their situation. No one." (p.158) While, I might not agree with this last conclusion, I am impacted by my responsibility to take the gospel to those who have never heard.

Platt goes on: " The purpose of the church is to mobilize a people to accomplish a mission. Yet we seem to have turned the church as a troop carrier into the church as luxury liner. We seem to have organized ourselves, not to engage in battle for the souls of peoples around the world, but to indulge ourselves in the peaceful comforts of the world...The reward of the American dream is safely, security, and success found in more comfort, butter stuff, and greater prosperity. But the reward of Christ trumps all these things and beckons us to live for an eternal [reward]. (pp.170-172)

Radical obedience to Christ is not easy; it is dangerous. It is not smooth sailing aboard a luxury liner; it is sacrificial duty aboard a troop carrier. It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us. (p.181)
The last chapter is a challenge to try a radical experiment for one year. Platt asks the reader consider committing to five things over the course of twelve months.

Pray for the entire world.

Read through the entire Bible.

Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose.

Spend your time in another context.

Commit your life to a multiplying community.

In Luke 10:2, Jesus tells us to pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send out laborers into the harvest. "When Jesus looked at the harassed and helpless multitudes, apparently his concern was not that the the lost would not come to the Father. Instead his concern was that his followers would not go to the lost." (p.187) Prayer, therefore, is critical to the mission.

The Word of God cannot be minimized. If God's people do not spend adequate time reading the Bible, how will we ever fulfill our mission? As for sacrificial giving, Platt points out: "We are an affluent people living in an impoverished world. If we make only ten thousand dollars a year, we are wealthier than 84 percent of the world, and if we make fifty thousand dollars a year, we are wealthier than 99 percent of the world." (p.194) We will answer to God for how we spend our wealth.

The challenge to get outside our comfort zones, recognizes that to be an incarnational Christian, we must live and minister where the people live rather than expect them to come to our church world. We must immerse ourselves in their lives, culture, and needs. Platt also encourages believers to give at least one week per year to world missions. He claims convincingly that what we learn in going will dramatically impact our effectiveness closer to home. He includes all believers in this challenge when he writes:

Consider what happens when all of us begin to look at our professions and areas of expertise not merely as means to an income or to career paths in our own context but as platforms for proclaiming the gospel in contexts around the world. Consider what happens when the church is not only sending traditional missionaries around the world but also businessmen and businesswomen, teachers and students, doctors and politicians, engineers and technicians who are living out the gospel in contexts where a traditional missionary could never go. (p.203)

Lastly, Platt makes a case for committing to a local body of believers that is pursuing the mission of God, where radical commitment to Christ is taught and modeled. "...look for the best avenue within that community of faith to be about making disciples." (p.206)

You can purchase the reviewer's book at Amazon:
Seeing God's Smile
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on August 21, 2012
This has to be the best and most influential book I have read up to date in the year 2012. For a while, I was a critic of the book, but having never read it my objections were not rooted in facts. Once I finally gave the book a read, I fell in love with it. The book is easy to understand, & is filled with application and powerful illustrations. Radical challenges so much of the American Dream and the American lifestyle that all of us take for granted. Many of us want to pursue the American dream, which is to find your dream job, your dream spouse, your dream house, your dream car, and your dream salary. Many whom have lots of money do not give one rat about the needy in their neighborhood. They do not give one rat about the poor college students, and those in their congregation whom have made poor financial decisions in the past and have a bit of debt as a result. I wish that more Christians would live the Radical Christian faith this book so well illustrates, because then there would not be as many poor college students, and people struggling to pay off student loans. There are plenty of wealthy Christians that do not care about anyone but themselves, and sure could use the book Radical. There are many whom are over burdened with debt from former poor financial decisions and wish they could get out of debt so they can donate more to the Lord, but the economy is bad and finding that debt killing job has been difficult for many.

So much more could be said about the book. Overall a great read! As a result of reading the book, I have donated money to Compassion International, & The Bible League. Prior to reading the book I sometimes donated just to get a book or some other gift in return, while completely ignoring the needs and cries of the hurting & needy. I sure wish that my church would use this book, but all attempts to persuade them have failed.... You know its amazing how God works. A few minutes after I posted this review I got a email from my SS teacher whom says he has Radical on his to read list, and that others in the church have encouraged him to read it as well.
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on October 11, 2017
This book has challenged me to break out of my shell and live for God in God’s world. May His Spirit enable me to stay true at all cost.
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