Radical [book review]

I’m sad to say I was disappointed in this book. You may remember I first discovered David Platt’s Radical back in November, when I was searching for resources on how to have a radical Thanksgiving. The holiday supplements were helpful resources, but still lacked the push towards social justice that I was seeking. However, I kept my hopes high for the book – thinking that this was going to be THE book I was looking for.

It let me down. Primarily because David Platt and I do not share theology. The underlying premise of the book is that unless people accept Jesus Christ into their lives they will die and go to hell. Therefore, because we are so lucky to have heard the story of Jesus, we are called share that good news in radical ways.

With recent debate on Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins flying all over the internet, I’ll leave my theological thoughts out of this post and save them for a later day. It suffices to say that I do not believe we are called to share the good news of Jesus is so that other people can be eternally saved and not go to hell.

I do believe God has called us to share the good news of Jesus Christ so that people can experience the life-giving power of Christ in the here and now.

Having said that, I am glad I read this book. And I do wish I could sit down with David Platt over coffee and talk about how the modern-day church is starkly different from anything that Jesus ever had in mind. He hits on so many issues that have crossed my mind time and time again. Here were the high points for me:

  • It is not easy to follow Jesus. In fact, Jesus never meant for it to be easy. But in American society, we try to make it easy. And because of that, we take it for granted. And we don’t really abandon everything that Jesus calls us to abandon. We are becoming, what I like to think of as, bath-water Christians. Just the right temperature of warm.
  • We cannot do anything we put our minds to. We are not all called to be CEOs of companies. We are not all called to high-paying jobs. We are not all capable of making straight A’s. And yet we seem to think anything less is second rate. Or when we do make it that far, we claim all the credit, rather than giving God the glory. Our identity doesn’t come from that which we do. It comes from whose we are … beloved children of God.
  • Making disciples is not connected to physical facilities. Or money. American churches have become a business that spend way too much money on things that don’t matter. These words stuck out to me more than any other in the book:
  • Every year in the United States, we spend more than $10 billion on church buildings.

    Um – what?! Do you know what kind of impact on world poverty $10 billion would make?! But wait – there’s more:

    In America alone, the amount of real estate owned by institutional churches is worth over $230 billion.

    These two statistics rocked me to the core. We focus on having the biggest and best facilities to do ministry in, when in all actuality, making disciples is about building relationships. We can do that anywhere! The park, people’s homes, local restaurants … the possibilities are endless. And yet we spend all sorts of money just on a physical building. It sort of made me ashamed.

The other part of this book that I found incredibly helpful was the Radical Experiment found at the end. Made up of five parts, this experiment could drastically change the face of American Christianity. D & I have begun to embark on this experiment, and it has already begun to change our lives.

In short, if you can get past the theological challenges, this is a great book to read – particularly in a group. It will challenge you in ways you have never been challenged before. And it just might cause you to start thinking for yourself. But beware – it is definitely true to its name. It is Radical.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Crystal Rowe

wife to D, mama to A & E, sister, daughter, niece, aunt, follower of Christ, writer, book lover, beloved child of God

  • I read the first half of this book back in the fall–now I’m thinking I should finish! I didn’t get to the Radical Experiment. Thanks for a thoughtful review.

  • Hi Crystal! I clicked over from RHE. đŸ™‚

    Radical is one of those life-changing books for me, but it wasn’t until after I read it that I began to have second-thoughts about his emphasis on the “eternal salvation” issue in his book. He is Southern Baptist, like I am, so my first reading of it didn’t really rattle me. Interestingly, I read Evolving in Monkey Town RIGHT AFTER reading Radical, and my later readings of it caused me to squirm a bit.

    Like you have written here, I do believe there are so many things that the Western Church needs to wake up and hear in his message. The way we as believers spend our time and money – no matter what country or culture we live in – does indeed reveal a LOT about what we actually read about the Bible.

    Thanks for this thoughtful and honest look at the book and its message!