Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: Radical

The title of this book is called Radical, with a subtitle or thesis of Taking back your faith from the American Dream. Truthfully this book should be called Normal: Resisting and Refusing the Lure of the American Dream. I say this because Platt wants us to look at the call to discipleship as something radical when in reality, it is merely normal Christianity. Amongst the personal stories and antidotes. Platt lays out for us the call of Christ to discipleship. There is nothing radical about his proposition. What makes it radical is that the evangelical church as a whole has been lured into redefining what Christianity really is and have been suckered into what has been defined as the American dream.

I was very hesitant to read this book. I was well aware that it had been in circulation for quite some time. It was all over the Internet. Almost every pastor or believer who had a Facebook account had swooned and gushed nothing but "Platt-itudes" since it had been published. I couldn't look at a status for days without seeing a quote from this book.

My second concern was the age and experience of the author. It seems any more that if a guy can be in the right place at the right time and seemingly under the right circumstances have a large or successful ministry some publisher is pushing him to write a book. As a result I was in no hurry to purchase this book. Then the opportunity came along from Walterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group to read and review this book.

I am now glad I did. This book seems to be very bible-centered with a good understanding of what it means first to be a Christian, and second a disciple or follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Platt has a definite passion for God and for the mission that Christ gave to the church prior to His ascension.

This book is about the great commission. It is a blue-print for discipleship and godly living. This book clearly outlines the major sin that has enveloped the evangelical church as a whole and Christians individually. This book also clearly outlines the standards set by Christ. Finally, this book clearly outlines both the solution and the steps for individuals and churches to clear of the sin and get back on track for Christ.

This book is one of the first that I have read that truly hits the problem we face today head on. It identifies systematically greed, wealth, and materialism as the major problem with the American Evangelical Church today. Platt identifies for any who are interested the thought process that has lured the American Church into its present and woeful condition. In the Old Testament God was glorified by the supply of wealth and blessing which He generously and mercifully bestowed on His people. The Old Testament mind set promoted the idea that if you were wealthy and had great material possessions it was a sign that God was blessing you. However, in the New Testament, we see that the large majority of the blessings of God for His people are Spiritual and not material. As a matter of fact believers are called to be humble in order to be exalted, to die in order to live, to give in order to receive, to become poor in order to become rich, and so on.

The American Church has rejected that. The American church has bought hook line and sinker into both the so called American Dream and American Individualism which endears those who pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. All the while forgetting the great commission to make disciples and the lost souls all over this globe. Platt describes how materialism and American wealth has sidetracked believers from thinking about and caring for the poor, the destitute, the orphans, and the unconverted.

This book is a wake-up call for the church and for individual Christians to, as in Jim Elliott's words, "to give up that which cannot be kept for that which cannot be lost." This book calls for a self-examination of every reader of their call and commitment to both Jesus Christ and the principles of discipleship. I believe that this is a must read for every truly born-again believer.

This book is written very well and very simply. It is an easy read. As a matter of fact if one has any interest at all in Christ's call to discipleship and His true claim on their life, this book almost can not be put down until it has been finished. I highly recommend this book to any true child of God.

I have a couple of concerns with this book, or at least with Platt's passion. First, how will this passion and vision play out over time. He is young. Has he been truly tested? Second, how does his passion work itself out with his church. It seems that much of what he writes about his church would contradict this clarion call to true discipleship. After all this is a "rich" or wealthy large church. How does the true mission and life of this mega church support this message? Third, I think we must be careful in adopting yet another "How To" or "Five Steps to Freedom From the American Dream." His five step challenge is a good one and will bless  many people. However, we must guard against it from simply being a methodology that we depend on to produce true transformation. Pragmatism does not change people, the Holy Spirit does. I would caution Platt, the publishers, and anyone else who reads this to be careful that we don't substitute the American Dream for a pragmatic methodology of "do" rather than the biblical principle of "be."

 I received this book for free from WaterBrookMultnomah Publishing Group for this review. All opinions, however, are from the spectacular machinations of my own hyperactive mind.


Monday: "The Monday Mentor" - 

Come along with us on Mondays and be "mentored" as we examine various points of interest from book reviews to pertinent events in church history. We hope to challenge, stimulate, and encourage you as we share various facts about people, places, positions, and performances of interests.


Michelle said...

Good review. I've been looking at this book but also hesitant. I've been taking the plunge into being less cynical...obviously, "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan was a book I recently read.

(And his age, don't forget Jonathan Edwards age when he began!) :) But, I know what you're saying.

Seams Inspired said...

Good review, Gregg. I don't know if I'll read this book, but appreciate your thoughts on it. Happy Monday!

Trevor Peck said...

Good thoughts brother, and good cautions as well. One thing though - you should take the time to investigate what goes on at Brook Hills (Platt's Church) for yourself - I think you will pleasantly surprised. Podcast him and check out "Secret Church". It seems to me that your first two concerns can - and should be - investigated yourself.

The third concern is valid and an excellent point. One we need to continually hear!

Thanks brother!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Excellent review Gregg, made it very interesting to read.



It has been my experience with pragmatic people in the church, that they often subvert the Word of God in the name of love to implement a new program or sometimes even to sell a book.

Persis said...

Thanks for the review.

I wonder about the use of the term "radical" in general. It has a certain coolness factor to it and can become a point of comparison between believers as to who is more radical or sold-out and what constitutes being radical.

I prefer Kevin DeYoung's description of faithful plodders.