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“Radical”—Book review

Why not begin operating under the idea that
God has given us excess,
not so we could have more,
but so we could give more? Radical by David Platt

This book makes me uncomfortable.
I think that’s its point.

David Platt wrote Radical because we American Christians need challenging. Is our faith more conformed to the gospel or to our culture?

He pastors a church in Birmingham, Alabama, and has challenged his congregation to live out Jesus’s message instead of following the American dream.

He encourages us to do the same and even offers a plan, The Radical Experiment.

My challenge to you is to use one year of your life to radically alter the remainder of your life. It involves five components.

I dare you over the next year to… 
    1. Pray for the entire world
    2. Read through the entire Word
    3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
    4. Spend your time in another context
    5. Commit your life to a multiplying community

He goes into detail for each challenge at the end of the book. But he leads up to it by giving real-life examples and reasons for following God’s plan.

My favorite chapter was chapter 4, “The Great Why of God. I hear echoes of John Piper’s overarching message in Desiring God in this chapter [God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him].

I hear that God saves us not for our sake, but for the sake of his holy name (Ezekiel 20:9; 36:22). I hear that God blesses his people so that his people will glorify him for saving them.

“God loves me” is not the essence of biblical Christianity. Because if “God loves me” is the message of Christianity, then who is the object of Christianity?
    God loves me.
    Christianity’s object is me.

…But it is not biblical Christianity.

…The message of biblical Christianity is “God loves me so that I might make him—his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness—known among all nations.”

Now God is the object of our faith, and Christianity centers around him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is. 

So while, yes, God has an incredibly, intimate passion for his people…

…that passion does not ultimately center on his people. It centers on his greatness, his goodness, and his glory being made known globally among all peoples.

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.

Ultimately, this book is more about God than it is about you and me. It’s about whether we get that or not, and what we do about it once we do.

When Paul got it, he realized he owed a debt to share this good news with everyone (Romans 1:14-15). Platt follows up with: “Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell.”

He’s changing his lifestyle to make that more possible. I’m sure many eyes are on him to see what happens next. Mine are. As are my prayers. I want success for him and others who radically want to follow Christ and make him known.

How far are they willing to go?
How far am I?
How far are you?

* * *
When I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah for review, I also received a booklet with it, The Radical Question. Then I found the accompanying website (does every book have one now?) with resources for each chapter and an amazing array of tools to carry out the 5 parts of The Radical Experiment. You can also keep up with the progress of Platt’s church family at The Church at Brook Hills as they live out this one year experiment.

Read chapter 1 here.


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