Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Radical by David Platt

Radical by David Platt

Do not read this book if you don't want to be uncomfortable or challenged.
If you want your world to rock a little bit (or a lot), then by all means read this book.

David Platt tackles a tough topic: the American Dream vs. the true Gospel. And I'm afraid the American Dream ends up sorely lacking. Actually, that doesn't quite cut it. Our deeply-embedded entitlement worldview (disguised as a "dream") is most often the exact opposite of Jesus' Gospel. Our culture praises ideas, goals and qualities that are in conflict with our Christian mission. Mr. Platt is not afraid to step on some toes. He writes: "Jesus actually spurned things that my church culture said were most important. So what was I to do? I found myself faced with two big questions. . . . Was I going to believe Jesus? . . . Was I going to obey Jesus?" (pg 2-3) Consider yourself forewarned: you will be challenged to ask yourself those very same questions (and most likely your toes will hurt a little in the process).

Here are a few quotes from the book that stood out to me:

Chapter 1: laying the groundwork and we've definitely got some work to do

". . . somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.  We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves." (pg 7)

Chapter 2: rediscovering a passion for God's Word

"Fundamentally, the gospel is the revelation of who God is, who we are, and how we can be reconciled to him. Yet in the American dream, where self reigns as king (or queen), we have a dangerous tendency to misunderstand, minimize, and even manipulate the gospel in order to accommodate our assumptions and our desires." (pg 28)

Chapter 3: His power is enough

"In direct contradiction to the American dream, God actually delights in exalting our inability. He intentionally puts his people in situations where they come face to face with their need for him. In the process he powerfully demonstrates his ability to provide everything his people need in ways they could never have mustered up or imagined. And in the end, he makes much of his own name." (pg 47)

Chapter 4: His glory is the end goal, not my salvation or happiness

"The message of biblical Christianity is not 'God loves me, period," as if we were the object of our own faith. 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." (pg 71)

Chapter 5: about making disciples

"Making disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching people the Word of Christ and then enabling them to do the same thing in other people's lives--this is the plan God has for each of us to impact nations for the glory of Christ." (pg 103)

Chapter 6: giving away monetary possessions and gaining eternal treasure

"Are you and I looking to Jesus for advice that seems fiscally responsible according to the standards of the world around us? Or are we looking to Jesus for total leadership in our lives, even if that means going against everything our affluent culture and maybe even our affluent religious neighbors might tell us to do?
"Jesus never intended to be one voice among many counseling us on how to lead our lives and use our money. He always intends to be the voice that guides whatever decisions we make in our lives and with our money." (pg 121)

Chapter 7: we are God's plan to help save the world (ouch! my toes!)

". . . the implications for our lives are huge. If more than a billion people today are headed to a Christless eternity and have not even heard the gospel, then we don't have time to waste our lives on an American dream. Not if we have all been commanded to take this gospel to them. . . .
"This is a cause worth living for. It is a cause worth dying for. It is a cause worthy of moving urgently on. We have the gospel of Christ in us, and we do not have time to waste. Some wonder if it is unfair for God to allow so many to have no knowledge of the gospel. But there is no injustice in God. The injustice lies in Christians who possess the gospel and refuse to give their lives to making it known among those who haven't heard. That is unfair." (pg 157, 159)

Chapter 8: risk now, reward later (and now, in the form of His presence & peace)

"Radical obedience to Christ is not easy; it is dangerous. It is not smooth sailing aboard a luxury liner; it is sacrificial duty aboard a troop carrier. It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us." (pg 181)

Chapter 9: the official challenge

"I dare you to test the claims contained in the gospel, maybe in a way you have never done before. I invite you to see if radical obedience to the commands of Christ is more meaningful, more fulfilling, and more gratifying than the American dream. And I guarantee that if you complete this experiment, you will possess an insatiable desire to spend the rest of your life in radical abandonment to Christ for his glory in all the world." (pg 184)

Points of impact for me personally:

  • Suddenly, redoing the kitchen or buying home decor at Target isn't so high on the priority list. Don't think that I've changed overnight - a big part of me still wants that. But the God-focused voice inside of me is a bit louder these days. "Is that really necessary? Will that really matter in the long run? What is of eternal significance here?"
  • The business/accounting classes at college drilled into my head: prepare for the future, invest wisely & often, etc. Nothing is wrong with those goals but my perspective is shifting. How can I invest the money He provides in such a way as to impact the Kingdom, and not necessarily my future security? How can I give away more and live on less?
  • The challenges in this book make me wonder about God's plan for my little family. How would He have us live radically, truly following Jesus' Gospel and not the American dream? What does this look like for me personally, but also in my marriage and with my child(ren)?


  1. i wonder if dwight has this book. i'll have to check it out. (when i'm finished reading the 3 or 4 books i have started and have yet to complete :). love your heart jans!

  2. love it! i agree whole-heartedly. have you read anything by danny silk? its not about exactly the same thing, but he writes about developing a culture of heaven. it's awesome. some of the things you wrote about reminded me of his work. it's a lovely Jesus movement happening. :)

  3. Excellent (and convicting) summary! Thanks so much for sharing, Jana. It's been awhile since I read this book. I think I might have to review it again. Good stuff!

  4. I just might have to visit a bookstore and look this book up.