David Platt was a megachurch pastor when he became convicted of whether he truly followed Jesus. After all, Jesus was a wandering preacher who never even had somewhere to lay his head. David’s confidence in American Christianity finally shattered when he visited a Church in Asia. Believers there risked their reputation, their income, and their very lives because of their faith in God. Platt risked nothing. As he looked at his life, he realized that not only did he have weak faith, but that aspects of American Christianity worked against anyone who sought to have radical faith. That is why Platt wrote this book: to point out the fallacies of American Christianity and to call people back to Christ and to a radical faith.
Platt first criticized American Christianity’s ideology and doctrine. What does it say about Christians that they worship in multimillion-dollar buildings, surrounded by technology? Would Christians attend a service without all of that? In Asia, Platt experienced Christians who would spend all day just reading the Bible. Why, then, are American Churches filled up with all this technology? Is God not interesting enough to hold their attention? Platt strikes at the heart of the issue: American Christianity has become about self, when it should be about God. Christians have become reliant on the power of man, instead of on the power of God.
Platt then turns his gaze to the individual. Why do Christians spend so much on material things? Why do they focus so much on spiritual things and ignoring good deeds? Why do Christians think they can avoid Jesus’ call to disciple the nations? Why do Christians assume Christianity is supposed to be comfortable? Jesus did not call people to an easy life. He called them to a life of service and obedience, and of persecution because of their obedience. The Church is meant to be a community of servants of God, so why does it look more like a Caribbean cruise? Platt calls Christians to stop thinking about themselves and their own comfort, and to start thinking about who they claim to follow. Platt began his journey by asking two main questions and they sum up his message: Do I believe what Jesus taught? and Will I obey Him?
When assessing the quality of Radical, I must first admit that I am a sucker for books that criticize the flaws in the American Church and challenge Christians to actually live like Christ. Radical perfectly fits that mold, making it both enjoyable and uncomfortable. Platt forced me to consider tough questions: Why do I spend so much on material things while people around the world suffer? Have I remade Christ into something He is not in order to increase my comfort? Am I willing to risk my comfort and my life in obedience to God? Theologically and ideologically, Platt’s voice is one that needs to be heard. Yet, marvelously, Platt does all this without falling into legalism. He recognizes that Christians are called to different tasks, but he also recognizes that there is no calling for Christians to sit around.
Unfortunately, the writing side of Platt’s book is a bit weaker. Though I enjoyed many of his stories, at times they were overused and distracted from his main point. Other times (such as his chapter on helping the poor), I felt that Platt spent too much time explaining and defending his points, when they were easily understandable. I will grant it is wise to address any possible misunderstandings or counter-arguments, but I would have appreciated a bit more concision.
Ultimately, Radical is a strong book which, though it may retread familiar ground, I think will convict and inspire anyone who reads it to become radically obedient to Christ.
Published on 24 September, 2016. Last updated on