Since the release of "Radical" in 2010, David Platt's plea to the contemporary church is to stop chasing after "the American Dream" and begin living sacrificially for the expansion of the Gospel and the glory of Jesus Christ. His message has found wide acceptance among evangelical ministries that have lost their focus and turned inward. Sincere Christians are not only looking for something to live for, but something worth dying for. To that extent, Platt sounds like a modern-day Bonhoeffer. In this present volume we find two smaller booklets that are summaries of "Radical" and his follow-up book addressed to the church, "Radical Together." This current format provides a condensed version for those more desirous of cutting to the chase. For that reason, this small volume proves helpful as a quick resource, as well as a non-invasive (until the book is actually opened and read!) gift to pass along to others. Both parts of its message are compelling but, as Platt would agree, if it does not spur the reader to action it has not accomplished its purpose. For the complacent Christian, it should come with a "warning" label: "Read at your own risk!" (As a postscript I would suggest that the reader invest in "Radical" and "Radical Together" rather than starting with this smaller volume. To do the reverse would be akin to reading the Cliff's Notes version of a classic novel and then trying to read the real thing).
"The Radical Question & A Radical Idea" by David Platt is a two-in-one book combination. The first book, "The Radical Question" appears to be a summary of some key concepts from his original book "Radical". The second book, "A Radical Idea", appears to follow the same vein and sum up key points from the book "Radical Together".
"The Radical Question" asks readers to consider what Jesus is worth to us. He challenges us to live differently, to pursue a true Christianity instead of simply a Christian spin on the American dream. As he talks about how underground house churches often risk everything, including their very lives, for the chance to gather together and worship Christ, he ponders "I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we in America have lost touch with what is essential, radical--even dangerous--about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable" (p. 8). Having read the original book, "Radical" about a year and a half ago, I found this section to be a great reminder and summary of the challenges and questions from the original.
"A Radical Idea" addresses the question of "How can we in the church best unleash the people of God in the Spirit of God with the Word of God for the Glory of God in the world?" (p. 63). Platt looks at how the church can stand together, united to live for a radical purpose of living out a more biblical gospel. He questions our American desire to build big buildings and have top-notch programs instead of prioritizing getting the gospel to people who desperately need it and channeling greater amounts of funding toward things with a more far-reaching, eternal impact. He discusses the need to invest more in the people of the church, thereby creating disciples, instead of investing more in programs.
Overall, the message of both books is a great one. He has a great message that the American church desperately needs to hear and ultimately begin to live out on a much greater scale. This little book would be a great one for someone who hasn't yet read either "Radical" or "Radical Together". But it does seem a bit overkill to put out two short little summaries instead of encouraging people to read the longer volumes that are packed with far more substance. Content-wise, the book is fantastic. But for me personally, I'm going to stick with the original books and skip these little summaries.
(I've received this complimentary book from Waterbrook-Multnomah through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)
We have here a followup to the widely read volume "Radical" by David Platt. That book, I have learned, is changing the way some look at church. This book, apparently, expands on the earlier book. I have not read yet that earlier book, but some who have criticize this volume as being just a condensation of the earlier book and not worth the extra expense. I'll leave that choice with you as I just consider this volume.
The core of the "Radical" question in the first half of the book is: Is Jesus worth it? That would seem to be a no-brainer as Mr. Platt readily admits, but he works to examine if we really feel that way. In the process he shows that we often act opposite to Jesus Himself. For example, we are consumed with crowds while Jesus was often turning them away. His concerns and goals were different from ours.
He finds fault with our massive building projects while we spend miniscule amounts on needs around the world. Some might feel he blurs the line between social projects and the Gospel. He is challenging but I feel that way myself as I read him. I can, however, certainly agree with his appeal that Christ is worthy of our lives.
The second half of the book is the idea for taking "Radical" forward. He criticizes our reducing church to a staff of paid professionals providing spectators a worship experience. I was about to think he wanted to put all of us full-time pastors out to pasture, but he finally confessed that was not his point as he himself was a full-time pastor! In truth he has a great point. We need all involved, not just a few. It would make such a difference in our churches were we to turn this around.
So this is an easy, quick read that will spur thought in our busy lives. You might want to give it a look.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
In Asian countries believers in Jesus Christ face hardship every day. Every day they are faced with the potential loss of home, family, freedom and their very life. And yet they still continue to meet together with their fellow believers to worship. They travel, often on foot and in the middle of the night, many miles just to meet with others. They spend their time not praying for a release from the relentless persecution they face, rather they spend their time worshiping, truly worshiping Jesus. Praising Him for who He is, for what He has done. They have an uncanny grasp on who Jesus really is.
A grasp it seems most people of European descent, which includes the country I'm proud to call home, lack. It's not that we think Jesus is less than God, we know He is very God and very man. But we've made Him a god in our own likeness.
My husband told me a quote he heard,
"God made man in His likeness,
And man returned the favor."
Now that might be true for Americans, but I doubt it's true for all Americans or even all Christians worldwide. But it does bear pondering.
David Platt in his book, The Radical Question, says,
"But do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding Jesus into our image and making Him look like us. And the danger now is that when we gather to sing and lift our hands in worship, we are not actually worshiping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead, we are worshiping ourselves."
His question then is, "What is Jesus worth to us? To you?" What are we willing to give up for the cause of Christ? Would we willing give up our multi-million dollar churches? Our homes? Our cars? Our weekly dinners out? Our Starbucks? Our designer clothes? Are we willing to live in the land and lap of luxury and not crave our slice of the American pie? Can we live trying to keep up with the Joneses only not materially but spiritually? Can we look at someone living life sold out to Jesus Christ and say, "I want that! Only I want more than what they have!" ? Can we?
This book was very convicting. It was also what I had been thinking and pondering in my own life lately. I don't want to settle for mediocre Christianity. I want to dive in. I want to be immersed in Jesus.
There was only a couple of things I didn't care for in the book. I am really about sick to death of Christians trying to guilt trip American believers. God placed each one of us in America for a reason. He could have placed us in Asia or the Middle East or Africa. But He, in His infinite wisdom set us here. Our boundaries are the borders of the United States of America. But our influence reaches world wide. Yes, I am blessed. Yes, compared to most of the rest of the world I am rich beyond compare. But it is because God and His grace, His plan and not my doing.
The other thing, yes we are commanded to help the poor. Why do we think the poor are only those lacking vast financial resources? What about the rich business man who is poor emotionally? Or spiritually? Are we not to care for and help those as well?
Why do we equate helping with giving a hand-out? Look at all the aid the USA has provided both at home and abroad, have we wiped out poverty? Have we made anyone rich with our handouts? No. In fact, I might dare go on to say, we've made the problem worse. The way to help the poor is not to give them a handout, but a hand UP. Even for those in the church.
It is one thing to help financially when someone's needs exceed their income at that time. It is another thing to enable someone to not work for their living, to not work for and earn everything they have. The Bible very clearly states, "if a man does not work, he won't eat." (yes, that is my paraphrase.)
So while we are running around handing out money hand over fist to those we think are poor, we are completely ignoring their real need. Which is Jesus. Money does not heal all wounds. Those poor are not just lacking finances.
Of course before we can see Jesus as the true answer to their needs, we have to realize He is the true answer to our needs as well.