David Platt is very successful. He’s the pastor of a four-thousand member church. He travels and teaches around the world, and has two advanced college degrees to go with his three undergraduate degrees.
You might says that Platt is living the American Dream. But those would be fighting words, in a manner of speaking.
In fact, Platt’s book Radical is subtitled “Taking back your faith from the American Dream.” The author challenges readers to consider whether the gospel has been shaped by our cultural preferences.
He makes a strong case that the Christian witness in the United States has been shaped, and to a great degree, weakened by our national ideals of what is important and valuable. In particular, he illustrates how the church often uses worldly approaches to ministry rather than relying on God’s supernatural provision and power. He says “I am part of a system that has created a whole host of means and methods, plans and strategies for doing church that require little if any faith from God.”
Platt encourages us to return to the radical faith of the Bible by giving priority to the Gospel, prayer and discipleship. He also makes a biblical argument for examining our love for money and possessions in light of God’s call for us to be in the world, but not of the world.
Though often convicted by the revelation of just how much of my life is shaped by the American Dream rather than God’s vision, I found Platt’s humble approach to teaching to make it easier to embrace tough truths. That said, I don’t fully embrace all of what he champions in Radical. In particular, his insistence that foreign missions and ministry to the poor is a universal Christian mandate for all individual believers seems more a product of the contemporary social justice movement rather than a clear biblical imperative.
I can confidently recommend Radical for those willing to examine whether their faith is making an impact on the world, or if it’s the other way around. But just make sure that, in the end, your convictions are born of The Book and not just this book.