I really like David Platt. We’ve spoken at the same conferences a couple times and run in some overlapping circles. My personal interactions with him have always been encouraging. David, the pastor of The Church at Brook Hills (a four-thousand member congregation in Birmingham, Alabama), is humble, down to earth, funny, a devoted student of the Scriptures, and a gifted preacher.

And if you’ve heard him speak, you may have noticed that he is kind of passionate.

I’m glad David is one of the good guys because I expect the Lord will give him an increasingly large platform in the years ahead in his city, the Southern Baptist Convention, the broader evangelical world, and the global church that he loves so deeply.

His first book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (which I read first and later decided to review when TGC Reviews asked me to) is not for the faint of heart. Radical is an all-out assault on cheap grace, easy-believism, consumer Christianity. Writing as a megachurch pastor leading a congregation in a leafy suburb of Birmingham, David admits this is hard to reconcile with his present situation “with the fact that my greatest example in ministry [Jesus Christ] was known for turning away thousands of people” (2). David hits hard, but never claims to have it all figured out.

David’s honesty and wide range of experiences (from teaching houses churches in China to fleeing Hurricane Katrina) make him an accessible and engaging author. Combining real-life examples from his congregation, his travels abroad, and his own personal wrestling, David has written a provocative book that will serve as a wake up call to many Christians who are ignorant of their own cultural captivity and indifferent to the needs of the poor and the plight of lost.

There is much to like about Radical. I applaud David’s call for serious discipleship. I love his bold words about counting the cost and pursuing something better and riskier than the “good life.” I am grateful he never shies away from the hard edges of God’s sovereignty and God’s wrath. I especially appreciated Chapter Seven (“There is No Plan B”) where David walks through the book of Romans and makes a strong case for why non-Christians must hear the gospel and put conscious faith in Christ in order to be saved and why Christians must make it a priority to reach those who have never heard.

Radical is a stirring book that will help many Christians.

A Few Concerns

But not everything here is helpful. Let me highlight a few concerns I have with the book and with the some elements of the larger “get radical, get crazy Christianity” that is increasingly popular with younger evangelicals. I hesitate to mention these concerns because there is so much in the book I agree with and because David does provide caveats here and there to soften the blow of his rhetoric. But people tend to hear what we are most passionate about, and I’m afraid the take-home message from Radical for many people may reinforce some common misconceptions about what it means to be sold-out for Jesus.

Here are a few concerns in increasing order of importance.

First, I think David’s context sometimes leads him to overstate his conclusions. For example, David is very negative about church buildings, calling them “temples,” “empires,” and “kingdoms” (118). I can’t help but feel that David’s own struggle with preaching “in one of these giant buildings” has forced him to speak too sweepingly about the way most churches in America (which are small) approach their facilities (119).

Second, we need a better understanding of poverty and wealth in the world. The Christian needs to be generous, but generous charity is not the answer to the world’s most pressing problems of hunger, inadequate medical care, and grinding poverty. Wealth is created in places where the rule of law is upheld, property rights are secured, people are free to be entrepreneurs, and there is sufficient social capital to encourage risk-taking. We can and should do good with our giving. But we must not lead people to believe that most of human suffering would be alleviated if we simply gave more.

Third, there is an implicit, underlying utilitarian ethic in many “radical” streams of Christianity that makes faithfulness to Christ impossibly daunting. To his credit, Platt says we don’t need to feel guilty for everything that is not an absolute necessity (127). But earlier we are made to feel bad for the money we spend on french fries (108). It is easy to stir people to action by relating how little everyone else has and how much we have in America, but we are not meant to have constant low-level guilt because we could be doing more.

Paragraphs like this pack a punch, but on closer inspection are not as helpful as they seem:

Meanwhile, the poor man is outside our gate. And he is hungry. In the time we gather for worship on a Sunday morning, almost a thousand children elsewhere die because they have no food. If it were our kids starving, they would all be gone by the time we said our closing prayer. We certainly wouldn’t ignore our kids while we sang songs and entertained ourselves, but we are content with ignoring other parents’ kids. Many of them are our spiritual brothers and sisters in the developing nations. They are suffering from malnutrition, deformed bodies and brains, and preventable diseases. At most, we are throwing our scraps to them while we indulge in our pleasures here. Kind of like an extra chicken for the slaves at Christmas. (115)

I know David believes in the necessity of corporate worship but I’m not sure how our obligation to worship squares with this paragraph. Surely, we are not guilty for worshiping on Sundays just because the poor exist. Moreover, surely it is appropriate to hold to believe in some sort of moral proximity when it comes to the pressing needs of the world. We do have more responsibility for the boy drowning in our pool than for the boy starving on the other side of the world. The whole world wasn’t rebuked for neglecting the man on the Jericho road, but the priest and Levite were (Luke 10:29-37). The needs of the church come before the needs of the world (Gal. 6:10) and the needs of our families take on a priority that other needs don’t (1 Tim. 5:8).

Along the same lines, as evangelicals rediscover a biblical concern for the poor we must be careful our applications are tied to careful exegesis. Some passages we quickly employ, like James 5 (see p. 109), are not just about the rich, but about the ungodly rich who acquire their wealth by cheating the poor. And other passages like the rich young ruler (Mark 10, Luke 18), which David uses extensively, must be seen in their larger context. The question “Who then can be saved?”—referring to the disappointed rich man in Luke 18—is answered in Luke 19 where Zacchaeus gives, not everything away, but half of his goods to the poor (v. 8). Others in Luke are well-regarded for simply supporting the disciples “out of their means” (8:3). The point of the rich young ruler is not to make us worried that having anything might be too much, but to help us see more clearly the models of lived out faith in wealthy people like Zacchaeus and Joseph of Arimathea (Matt. 27:57; Luke 23:50-56).

Fourth, I worry that radical and crazy Christianity cannot be sustained. If the message of Jesus translates into “Give more away” or “Sacrifice for the gospel” or “Get more radical” we will end up with burned out evangelicals. Even when Jesus said his hard saying (and he said a lot of them) it was not his basic stump speech. His message was repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15). When Jesus challenged the crowds to count the cost or let the dead bury their dead it was to make clear that following him was not all about miracles and wonders, it was about giving him the preeminence. The emphasis was doxological first and foremost. Worship Christ. Believe in Christ. Walk with Christ. And therefore, before you follow Christ be prepared for opposition.

I don’t worry for David’s theology, but I worry that some young Christians reading his book might walk away wondering if a life spent working as a loan officer, tithing to their church, praying for their kids, learning to love Christ more, and serving in the Sunday school could possibly be pleasing to God. We need to find a way to attack the American dream while still allowing for differing vocations and that sort of ordinary Christian life that can plod along for fifty years. I imagine David wants this same thing. I’m just not sure this came through consistently in the book.

Fifth and finally, we must do more to plant the plea for sacrificial living more solidly in the soil of gospel grace. Several times David talks about the love of Christ as our motivation for radical discipleship or the power of God and the means for radical discipleship. But I didn’t sense the strong call to obedience was slowly marinated in God’s lavish mercy. I wanted to see sanctification more clearly flowing out of justification.

Now I don’t believe that every command we ever give must include a drawn explanation of the gospel. But in a book-length treatment of such an important topic I would have liked to have seen “all we need to do in obedience to God” growing more manifestly out of “all God’s done for us.” At times the discipleship model came across as: “Here’s how we need to live. Here’s how we are falling short. Here’s how Christ can help us live the way we ought.” The gospel looks more like a means to obey the law, instead of resting in the gospel as respite from the law.

Further, I wish there was more of an emphasis on what we do when we fall short of radical obedience. How do we get balm for our stricken consciences? Where do we find rest for our sin-sick souls? Just as importantly, I would hope that as David speaks in risky ways in order to challenge us all to shake off nominal Christianity, he would also on occasion speak in such a risky way that he’s charged with antinomianism (Rom. 6:1). On the whole, I think the motivation for obedience in Radical would have been more biblical and more balanced if it landed more squarely on the greatness of God’s love for us as opposed to the nature of the world’s great need and our great failures.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I should say that David and I have had a chance to talk about some of these matters over the phone. His demeanor could not have been any kinder. He listened humbly and pushed back graciously. I’m happy to call David a friend and look forward to learning from him in the years ahead. To that end I’ve invited him to respond to my review and suggest any areas he thinks I’ve misread or any areas he might want to clarify.

*******

David’s Platt’s Response

I really like Kevin DeYoung. I am thankful to call him my friend, and I join with a multitude of evangelicals who are increasingly grateful for the grace of God expressed in his keen mind, his sharp wit, his theological acumen, his gentle spirit, and his pastoral wisdom. For this reason, I was thankful to discover that he would be reviewing the book I recently wrote entitled Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream.  I was thankful because I knew that even if I did not agree with everything Kevin might write, nonetheless his insight, analysis, and critique would serve readers well in avoiding any potential pitfalls they might encounter in processing or applying what I have written. On a more personal level, I was thankful because I know I have so much to learn as pastor, preacher, writer, and most importantly follower of Christ, and I need brothers like Kevin DeYoung to sharpen me in my own life and ministry.

While Kevin was writing his review, we had an opportunity to discuss a variety of issues, and in turn he invited me to offer a response to some of the ideas he has articulated. Kevin is gracious to give me this opportunity, and I am grateful for it. In what follows, my goal is not to respond to every single sentence he has written, but instead to express some thoughts on what I believe are the most significant concerns in his review, and in turn to address what I believe are some of the most important issues for discussion among readers of Radical.

Gospel-Driven and Grace-Saturated

Over and above everything else, I want to convey a shared concern with Kevin for gospel-driven, grace-saturated, God-glorifying obedience. The last thing I want to do is to leave people living with low-level guilt, constantly wondering, “When am I going to be radical enough? What do I need to do, how do I need to give, or where do I need to go in order to do enough for God?” These are obviously unhealthy questions, for the gospel teaches us that Christ alone is able to do enough. He alone has been faithful enough, generous enough, compassionate enough, etc. The gospel beckons our sin-sick souls to simple trust in Christ, the only One who is truly radical enough. In him, we no longer live from a position of guilt, but from a position of righteousness.

All of this to say – comments in Radical like the assertion that over 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day (they struggle to find food, water, medical care, and shelter with the same amount we spend on french fries for lunch) or the reality that multitudes of our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering with malnourished bodies and deformed brains because they have no food or water are not intended to promote guilt-driven obedience. Instead, my goal is simply to help open our eyes to realities in the world that we would rather ignore and to call us to look at those realities through the eyes of the One who “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9; p. 113 in Radical).

Worship With Our Eyes Wide Open

Along similar lines, I certainly want to clarify any confusion regarding my comments about worshiping while approximately a thousand children in the world around us die of starvation or preventable disease. My goal is in no way to question the biblical warrant or practical need for us to gather together for worship. Instead, my goal is simply to call us to worship God in a way that opens our eyes to the needs of those who are hurting around us. Surely true worship of God compels tender mercy toward others (Is. 1:10-17; Am. 5:21-24; Mic. 6:6-8; Jas. 2:1-24). On a brief side note, and I don’t believe this is a major point for discussion here, but in light of churches spending up to $115 million on buildings in our day, I do think we need to examine our use of resources in churches of all sizes when it comes to buildings.

A Possible Point of Disagreement

All this leads to a point that Kevin and I may differ on, at least to some degree. I would certainly agree that there is a level of moral proximity that governs our response to needs in the world. Without question, I am uniquely accountable before God for needs in my physical family as well as the faith family I lead called The Church at Brook Hills. At the same time, there is clear Scriptural precedent for also helping our brothers and sisters in other churches. One of the primary examples of giving we see in the New Testament is the offering among various churches for the church at Jerusalem. I have always loved Romans 15:26, where Paul references how the churches at Macedonia and Achaia made a contribution to the poor in Jerusalem, and the word for contribution there is koinonia. The fellowship fostered by this offering was a beautiful picture of one part of the body of Christ saying to another, “We are with you. You are not alone in your need.” And it is here that I believe in our day we have missed the pattern of the New Testament church in a dangerous way. We as North American Christians have grown incredibly wealthy compared to the body of Christ around the world. If all we do is provide for one another’s needs here in the name of moral proximity, it seems that we are saying to our brothers and sisters, many of whom are literally starving, around the world, “We are not with you. You are alone in your need.”

Now I immediately want to offer a variety of qualifications. I am, again, not denying that we have a unique responsibility to care for members in each of our local churches. I am not trying to oversimplify the complex problems (and complex solutions) associated with impoverished peoples in various countries and contexts, and I am not trying to put an unsustainable burden upon any person or church to care for every other needy church in the world. And my goal is not to cause us to feel guilty. Instead, my goal is to call us to look to Christ, as individuals and as local churches, and to ask him how we can best use the resources he has given to us to care for one another in our local churches and to provide for suffering saints in the global church. In the end, my prayer is that God would use sacrificial love for our needy brothers and sisters in other places to demonstrate the unity of the church and the generosity of Christ to a lost and watching world around us.

One Final Thought

That leads to one final thought regarding care for the poor. As Kevin noted, Scripture clearly teaches that the needs of the church come before the needs of the world (Gal. 6:10). But this obviously does not mean that we ignore the physical needs of those who are lost. While we do not have much explicit instruction in Scripture to care for the unbelieving poor, we do have the Great Commission. If we are going and making disciples of all people groups, and if the majority of people groups in the world are far poorer than we are, then we are certainly going to care for the poor while we proclaim the Gospel (i.e., if the person we are sharing the Gospel with is dehydrated and/or starving, we will give them water or food). The question then becomes whether or not we are going to people groups like these, and if we are not, then maybe we need to create a moral proximity to them. Whether in the church or among the lost, I want to avoid an unhealthy localism that disregards our brothers and sisters around the world and is detrimental to the spread of the gospel in all nations.

All of this leads back to where I believe Kevin and I wholeheartedly agree. He mentions that Jesus’ “stump speech” was, “Repent and believe the Gospel,” and I could not agree more. In fact, I think even the hard sayings of Jesus that Kevin mentions and that I reference throughout Radical all come back to this essential message: repent and believe the gospel. Whether it was the rich young man, the three prospective followers in Luke 9, or the constant crowds who surrounded him, Jesus was calling them all to turn from themselves and to trust in his grace.

Consequently, as Kevin has mentioned, the message of Christianity is not that we need to do more for God, but that we need to trust in what God has done for us. Like Kevin, I want more than anything for sacrificial living to be grounded “solidly in the soil of gospel grace.” As a part of this grounding, though, I want people not only to believe in the gospel grace that was shown to us on the cross, which is the basis for righteous standing before God, but I also want people to believe in the gospel grace that is being given to us right now, which is the power for righteous living before God. I want to shepherd people away from only thinking, “Look at all that Jesus did for me at the cross; now let me try to live for him today.” I want people to realize that Jesus’ work for us did not stop at the cross. He is working for us today, as well, and he has promised to work on our behalf in the future. That is why I try to use language intentionally and consistently throughout Radical to describe not just what Christ has done for us in the past (as if that weren’t enough!), but what Christ is doing for us in the present, at every moment, to enable us to live in obedience to him. Oh, the wonder of it. Not only have we been saved by his grace at the cross (Chapter 2 in Radical), but he has given us his Spirit (Chapter 3 in Radical), and he now lives in us to empower radical, life-changing, world-impacting obedience for his name’s sake in all nations (Chapters 4-9 in Radical).

Summary

In summary, I am deeply appreciative of Kevin’s various cautions concerning “radical and crazy Christianity.” The last thing I want to be a part of (or worse yet be promoting) is a stream of Christianity that thrives on guilt over gospel, prioritizes our work more than God’s grace, or burns out evangelicals in unsustainable efforts to do more, give more, or sacrifice more. I certainly regret any ways I have contributed to this kind of thinking or way of living. My goal has simply been to call people to believe the gospel – the gospel that not only saves us from our sins, but also compels us to lay down our lives gladly for our own good and ultimately for God’s glory in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need. This is the kind of “radical and crazy” Christianity that has characterized servants who have gone before us like George Muller, John Paton, and Jim Elliot, and this is the kind of “radical and crazy” Christianity that marks our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world who are not looking to passively sustain themselves, but who are living to passionately spend themselves for the gospel, no matter what the cost. I long to stand with them in a line of brothers and sisters from every vocation who are resting daily in the unfathomable grace of Christ while living radically for the immeasurable glory of Christ in every nation.

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Comments:


149 thoughts on “Getting to the Root of Radical: A Review and Response”

  1. Ryan says:

    While I trust Dr. Platt has godly intentions for writing this book, his criticism is like a shotgun. He sprays critiques in countless directions towards the Western church with sweeping presumptions and categories that can confuse the reader precisely because Platt is so humble in character.

    I wish this camp of “radical revivalists” would come out and simply speak their mind – which is that they clearly believe we are all called to foreign missions, and anything less would be disobedience to Christ. At least then we can have an honest discussion.

  2. andrew says:

    @Ryan:

    this issue, and Platt’s book, have almost nothing to do with foreign missions aside from utilizing examples of sold-out Christ-followers. i think you may be presuming or generalizing a bit too much… ;O)

    i, personally, DO NOT believe everyone is called to foreign missions, but i wholeheartedly agree with Platt’s general premise.

    BTW, Platt is saying nothing that John Piper hasn’t been saying for the better part of 30 years, see him here [http://youtu.be/dQhIxvaqteo] in 1998 .

    the church in the West desperately needs to open its ears to Platt’s message. Platt (and others like him) need to swings WAY OUT into controversial territory and offend some people in order for some of us to listen.

    just food for thought.

    in Him,

    ~a

  3. Rick Weiss says:

    @Ryan
    I agree with Andrew. Every one needs to be sent. Be it foreign mission or local needs Jesus calls all of his to be his hands I’n this world. It’s sad that church attendees believe that there followers of Christ by being pew sitters.
    Jesus is very harsh and firm I’n his requirements to follow him. Platt. Chan. Gotchell. Piper are voices calling out I’n the wilderness of American religion to turn away from the American dream and live your life as Jesus Commands.

  4. karuizawa says:

    Mark 10:21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” So, is that a command for all Christians to follow? Was Jesus talking to a believer or unbeliever? Could it be that in this case, Jesus knew that the rich man was trusting in his riches and not in Him and He, therefore, confronted the unbelieving man about his misplaced trust? What about “rich christians”? Should they sell all they have and give to the poor to be “spiritual”? Or should they follow Paul’s advice – 1Tim. 6:17   As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

    Just wondering. I often find that the Bible sheds light on a lot of commentaries that I have read.

  5. Rick Weiss says:

    @karuizawa
    Hi
    God Bless:)
    hmm first and formost Jesus said love YOur God with everything, EVERYTHING,,,not happening very often in America where EVERYTHING takes us away from God.
    Second Love you Neighbor more than yourself,,, Really? even wetbacks, blacks and Nancy Pelosi? Jesus said EVERYBODY

    Jesus also said to not let anything come between him and us ( he does not mention wife though, probably becasue a wife needs to be yoked with her husband as one) In Amertica EVERYTHING comes between us and Jesus

    American Religion is an Incubator for hell

  6. Actually, Rick, it love your neighbor as yourself, not more than yourself. Paul follows this command up with some commentary in Romans in saying that love does no wrong to a neigbor so as to give us some insight on what it means to love your neighbor; and Christ also gives us insight into what this means in Matthew 7:12 when He tells us to treat people the same way you want them to treat you.

  7. Rick Weiss says:

    @Morris
    Frog hairs?
    Friend. Jesus said to turn the other cheek and to comply under force and to give a theif your other possessions. Friend this is no doubt a love greater than yourself. Google the type of love Jesus and Paul speak of and that would be Agappe love. A love of neighbor that puts his wellbeing above your own.
    Which is a rare thing I’n religion.

    The Christ demands that we die to self as we love our neighbor so if we fade from self while building up our neighbor then I’n fact we are loving him more than ourself.

    Morris when was the last time you saw I’n Religion people people going without as they bless others ?

  8. Rick,

    1. Don’t stretch the definition of the word agape beyond the context in which it is used. To love our neighbors as ourselves sets the boundary for our interpretation and application of agape in that verse. Context should always rule our interpretation, especially specific instruction.

    2.Don’t confuse the command to love our neighbors as ourselves, (which, again, you misquoted and misapplied), with the command Christ gave us to love one another as He has loved us. There is a different level of love expected to be given to those in the family of God versus those outside the family of God. For example, look at the use of beloved of God in connection with those that are called and chosen. You will never find God calling beloved anyone that is not His own…ie those of the world/unbelievers.

    My friend, it is not frog hairs. Precision leads to clarity, and clarity to proper application; and proper application leads to a life that bears fruit and is well pleasing to God because it aligns properly with His word. Making the Scripture say less or more than it actually says ultimately leads us away from the truth, regardless of the sincerity of our intentions.

  9. Kern Pegues says:

    Besides all the money churches spend on buildings and staff. How about all the money that is spent on people attending seminars that many of the pastors are speaking at. Not only the cost of the seminar, but paying the speakers expenses ie, flights,meals, hotel rooms, and usually not just for them but their spouses and teams.

    Kern

  10. Rick Weiss says:

    @kern
    If a person truely followed the Lord would they not as a love offering desire to pay there own way?

  11. Richard Weiss says:

    @ Morris
    I guess instead of writing from the hip in my truck I should have replayed to you using my Greek parable Bible as to be more correct in my postings.
    Literally you are right, and i wholly understand the difference between exegesis and eisegesis.

    Though my words come also from experience in Mission with Holy Spirit, seeing God move first hand in his calling of his own to himself. Friend, ( do I dare call you brother?) To hold to the New testament without physical interaction with Holy Spirit is in error.

    The followers of the way in those first decades were dependent 100% on the actions of Holy Spirit, there was no Bible and they carried no Scrolls, Holy Spirit gave them there words and directly led them and brought the chosen to them.

    Nothing has changed.

    God Bless you , Rick

  12. paul says:

    As is seen here, people who need to read “Radical” because they are caught up in the americanization of christianity (which i think Platt…for the most part…accurately portrays) truly benefit from Platt’s convictions and directives…His call to be Disciples and not just “hangers on” is right on…

    however, those who already have a propensity towards being “holier than thou”, judgmental and sectarian… walk away from reading “Radical” and use it’s message as a verbal bazooka on any and everyone, letting them know that they are the “real” Christians and everyone else is a fake-wannabee…

  13. Peter says:

    As my spouse and I are reading through this book I haven’t been able to properly express my oppositions to some of Platts statements. I am Platts age and agree that our nation sleeps in the light. We are well fed spiritually dead and need to WAKE UP! There seems to be an element of scripture manipulation to overstate a point in Platts book and response to the DeYoungs review! The new testament is clear on the dangers of taking the word of God out of context. Is the glory of God only found over seas? Why are you still here preaching in a mega-church, Platt?

    Thank you DeYoung for saying what I couldn’t. Thank you for reminding me that I can be radical without being delusional.

    It would be a blow to Christianity for Platt to fail at this point so I pray that he will keep mentors with the truth of God’s wisdom

  14. Rick Weiss says:

    Peter
    Hi
    Are the righteous In the Christ mostly In other countries ?
    Maybe. While America is not turning from Christ as Canada is and Europe did. We as American religion have become Apostate. The Episcople, Luthran, Methodist, and Presbyterians throwing the Doctrine of Christ under the bus of social doctrine.

    The Asian and middle eastern followers I’n Christ hang onto the Word like the drowning
    to a lifering. While the American Churched seem to follow Paul and not the Christ.

    We need Watchmen like Chan and Platt For it seems we In America have become Christians Atheists.

  15. paul says:

    Rick, just be careful not to make sweeping judgments about entire denominations…I know plenty in all of the above churches who are incredibly passionate about the Gospel and are living for Christ in their communities…

  16. Rick Weiss says:

    Paul
    Hi
    I was a Lutheran for 57 years,
    Ordaining Gay Clergy, and promoting a social agenda over that of the Christ is Apostate, and the other Main Line Denominations are also gladly jumping in to the abyss.
    Yes there are “Believing ” members of those denominations though its much like belonging to the Nazi Party during World War II. If you belong to a corrupt organization you are giving credence to the whole.
    Jesus warns of the Yeast contaminating the whole loaf and it holds true today, Scripture calls for us to flee from sin and yet can a person say they are truly a follower of the Christ if they still belong to an Apostate Denomination?
    Paul, Revelation 3:16 and Mathew 7:21-23 Ezekiel 33: 7-9

    God Bless
    Rick

  17. Paul says:

    I think we’re just to have to agree to disagree in love… In Christ prayer in John 17 Jesus speaks more about Unity in the Body than anything else. Be careful that We (and I say we because I am preaching to myself too) we give at least equal care for Unity as we do the Truth. I am in agreement that many mainline churches are doing ridiculously sinful things… but no where in scripture does it say “they will know we are Christians by how right we are…” Can we still love those who are in sin? Can’t we patiently implore them to return to orthodoxy?

  18. paul says:

    :-) I shouldn’t type from the i-pad…tons of typos in that

  19. Rick Weiss says:

    Paul
    yes i agree :) we disagree
    As a semi Calvinist and I hold strongly to “” Work out your own Salvation in fear and trembling”” But the lenses that my Theology is view through is the words of Jesus in the synoptic Gospels. Love God, Love Neighbor, And Go out into the world.

    Though my Experiences in the Mission field during these last 13 years put a whole different meaning on the word Belief.
    I am in the Mission field with over 100 men who belong to different denominations, ( Pretty much all denominations) We rely on the Spirit for guidance and power during these trips and have seen AMAZING things done for the Glory of God by Holy Spirit.
    Churches I have belonged in the past were dead things, the church I belong to now is alive yet men do not go on mission which baffles me. Opposes the words of Christ.

    So as I worship and witness to Muslims, Wiccan’s, Satanist, Buddhist, and Non Believers, we see Holy Spirit Active in his workings.

    The main point is this, these men from all around Michigan whom belong to many denominations ARE ALIVE in Christ and serve him daily. And the people who attend church? They mostly give a few hours to God, Not there best but only the leftovers.
    Prayers are needed.
    Peace….Out

  20. Paul says:

    Amen my brother! Bless you and your passion for the Gospel

  21. David Platt’s call to radical Christianity is genuine and i believe it is the call of the Lord in these last days. I am commenting on Kevin DeYoung’s review because I agree with it also. What I hear from Mr. DeYoung is a call for balance. Which i wholeheartedly believe in. My Pastor has a saying: “If you have too much of the Spirit you will blow up, If you have too much of the Word you will dry up, But if you have the Spirit and the Word you will grow up!”

  22. Tamra Farah says:

    In 1976 in Columbus, Ohio – as the tsunami wave of the Jesus movement hit the west coast and crashed east – I got ‘radically saved’ as a 16 year old. I had a passion for Jesus, read my Bible voraciously for 1 1/2 hours per day as a junior in high school, was persecuted in my Christian school for being such a zealot, spent months combined in Mexico, India, and 15 additional countries doing missions/exploratory work and have had a love for knowing Him and making Him known since that time. My husband and I have raised our two children (now 18 and 22), have experienced success in business and have always served the church and our community. In our hearts and choices we attempt to be faithful to our family and to the local family of God where we serve as leaders, while stretching out beyond to the nations in need, to help stop human trafficking, to support orphans and widows. We meet in a church facility, but we know it isn’t the ‘house of God’ – the people are. We eat dinner out – even french fries – and enjoy times of restful and refreshing vacation, while not losing sight of our highest devotion to God, our family, His family and those in the earth in need. This is a great reminder from our brother David Platt, but it isn’t necessarily something countless thousands aren’t already walking in. As for a great move of God? I am waiting for the next one in our nation, until then, by the grace of God we will be faithful in little and give cups of cold water in His name.

  23. Rick Weiss says:

    Tamara
    I don’t know you. But I Know you.
    Yes the Faithfull are working the fields of the Lord. And yet the percentage of those I’n each corporate church is small.
    Carry on faithful servent. :)

  24. Jett says:

    Wow… I was so deeply touched by the manner in which the review and the response were handled. In an age where people are quick to go for the jugular or state our opinion without acknowledging those opposing it, this moved me. I’m only partly through the book Radical, but the conviction I’ve felt from reading it is not so much a feeling that our only focus needs to be foreign missions. I think Platt’s response sums it well: the idea is to wake up, take our dependency off the American dream, and start being aware of what’s going on outside the church walls… then outside of our community… then outside of our city… then outside of our country. There’s been a distressing trend I’ve seen in many churches, places striving to do great good for the Kingdom of God, that in trying to emphasize that not everyone is called to the mission field, there’s almost a sense of indignity towards the it. Lines of division form between the mission field in our own country and service to other nations. The idea I got is to strive to understand and grow in the sides of Christ’s teaching we’ve brushed under the rug, and to be aware and start seperating our interpretation of Christ from the American right of the pursuit of happiness. It’s a touchy subject, one easy to misinterpret… but I’ll say I have not gotten a punch to the gut of my soul in years like I did when I read the first chapter of that book, not guilt to hopelessness but conviction. This is a subject that needs to be talked about and people are talking. It is beautiful that this review shows both the author and the reviewer talking with such respect and civility. Radical.

  25. roughdaniel@hotmail.com says:

    David Platt’s position on masturbation is wrong. He is off the mark with the assertion that it is a homosexual act. In fact, this very statement lends credibility to the gay lifestyle. Inadvertently he is calling better than 90 percent of the male population bisexual. There has seldom been a number above 10 percent assigned to this deviance. In fact, speculation over accurate numbers has been one of the facts frustrating to the gay community. In one sentence he gave these numbers back to them by traveling down a road few theologians attempt. At the core of his error, like many young bible scholars, is pride. He should have asked a few more questions as he sped over these topics. He also compared masturbation to pedophilia by pointing to the lack of biblical specificity over that deviance and drawing a line between the two. In fact, all acts of sexual impurity are covered in various scriptures. The specifics are not necessary. If they had been there would be a specific prohibition assigned. Now, because of his statement, there is not a distinction between excessive self abuse and a few isolated and normal self discoveries. That distinction needs to be there because it is truth. Children must discover certain things about their bodies. They grow up. They mature. Masturbation is a normal part of this maturity. Ironically, gender distinction was one of the very points he worked so hard to establish and masturbation is another typical manifestation of that difference.
    What scripture do we apply to the notion that masturbation is a homosexual act? Do we simply apply human logic that since the man is touching himself, it is man touching man?
    This reasoning has terrible implications for personal hygiene.
    Since most experts agree sex is first mental then the thoughts of man during masturbation are the issue. The very act of touching himself is secondary. God’s grievance with man is over the thoughts and intents of his heart. Sexual deviance lies in man’s mind and heart. The physical act is no more than evidence of it. Is lust a sin? Absolutely. Scripture is clear. Then preach against lust! Is an evil thought life a sin? Absolutely. Then preach against wicked thoughts! Is adultery in the mind a sin? Absolutely. Then preach against adultery! Is rampant self gratification a sin? Absolutely. Then preach against it! Do what so many better theologians for centuries have done. Avoid wresting scripture and dogmatic assumptions that are based on ambiguous texts. It is a horrible tendency that plagues the church since the Judaizers. As people of the book these kinds of scatter guns damage our credibility.

  26. BH says:

    I’ve been following these comments for quite a while now after a portion of one of my blog posts regarding Platt’s book was somehow logged as a “comment”/pingback. There have been some interesting and very well-written remarks. There have also been some blasts with the “doctrine gun”. There have also been some cries for help which is what I was certain would happen when I read Platt’s book. For the majority of post-modern people in the 21st. century, the modern Western church is fast becoming irrelevant. Why? Do Platt’s varied theses make a post-modern long to attend a church? Hell, no. I’m a Christian. I have been since the beginning of my life. There has not been a day that I have not been in love with the person of Jesus. I’m patrilineally Jewish so I have an understanding of what profound legalism is as well. I’ve got one foot in Christianity and the other in Judaism. Many of my friends are atheists. They have observed that evangelical Christians are hypocrites–quick to judge, stingy, mean, and lacking in compassion. Quick to say they attend church on Sunday, quoting scripture. while leaving next to nothing for a tip for the server at Sunday brunch. I ask them why they don’t consider going to church. Their response: “If I ever want to feel truly bad and ashamed about who I am as a person or just shunned, I’ll go to church.” This is not the Gospel message. We are not talking about “conviction”. That is not the description of what it is to feel convicted by the Holy Spirit. That is shame, and, friends, God never does shame. He leads us to repentance with kindness. If we want to know what God looks like, then we must look at the person of Jesus. If the church is the body of Christ, then we, too, must look like Jesus, We look nothing like Jesus because we look irrelevant to our culture. We have hurt our culture. We have spent far too much time pointing and saying, “Sinner! Sinner!” and dealing in negatives when our sin and sinful nature were nailed to the cross. Our sinful natures are dead. They are gone. The “flesh” is DEAD!!!!! The church’s job is to proclaim that because that is the good news. God does not deal in negatives. He is only dealing in the positives of who you already are in Christ. Not who you think you are because of how you feel about yourself, or your failures, or your struggles. This is true for a culture, for a people group, too. Sexual addiction? What?! Adultery?! Lust?! Those are all dead in Christ! He would be giving you the opposite spirit, and telling you to move in that! TEaching you the better way not telling you to “preach against”. We have been far too concerned with what we are not rather than who we really are. And, who we already are in Christ is far more magnificent than a corpse because that’s what we’re dealing with, trying to make better, when we’re preaching against something. Trying to heal the dead. Why not walk amongst the living? Not to mention an intimate and dynamic relationship with the person of Christ..pursue that as a priority for a lifetime, and you’ll be changed, but sanctification takes a very long time. And, God isn’t in a hurry. He already sees all of us through the rose-colored glasses of the work of Christ. To him, we’re splendidly favored and perfect because we are in Christ.

  27. Dan Elifson says:

    Dear Kevin,

    Thank you so much for your gracious but accurate concerns about the book Radical.

    DE

  28. Mary Love Seay says:

    I agree with both of you. Some points:
    Can we please drop “crazy” in reference to authentic Christianity? I know it sounds cool, but it is not true.
    Too many congregations are indeed worshipping their buildings. I have seen too much of it.

  29. Karuizawa says:

    Faulty exegesis leads to faulty interpretation. Faulty interpretation leads to faulty application. Faulty application leads to such things as cults, burnout, sin…..

    The rich young ruler who in his mind had done enough for SALVATION was exposed by the Lord. He could not become a disciple (believer) unless he quit trusting in his riches and placed his trust in the Lord. This is not a “pattern” for believers to follow in order to become a disciple- sell all you have and follow. In this context to become a believer is to become a disciple.

    Rich believers (as Paul wrote to Timothy) are to be generous to the poor – 1
    Tim 6:17ff. Why didn’t Paul tell the rich believers to sell all they had and become “radical”? You will agree that Paul and Jesus (Mark 10:21) cannot contradict one another, no?

    Since, as Kevin DeYoung stated, the rich ruler passage is one of the main passages that “Radical” relies upon ….. shouldn’t it be exegeted correctly before it is interpreted and applied?

  30. Rick Weiss says:

    Sir
    While your point

  31. Rick Weiss says:

    Sir
    While your point of view has merit and in context is applied to Socety 2000 years ago, Times have changed. The point I received from David Platts book while we are involvd in a group study in prison is the analogy of it letting go of your Idols or in things that own you. There is no doubt as Francis Chan pointed out at the Moody Bible College during Founders week that how can you say you love your neighbor when he suffers while you live in luxury.
    And how can you say you love God while your neighbor goes without.

  32. Yes, we are to love our neighbor, and engage in good deeds (See Titus chpts 2-3), however, we are not told exactly what that looks like. What it may look like for Chan or Platt may not be what it looks like for you and me. In Romans 14:22-23 we are told that “the faith we have, have as our own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves….and whatever is not from faith is sin.” The issue in this chapter and in the first of chapter 15 is the exercise of our faith in light of our liberty in Christ. Not every Christian will see the excercise of their faith in exactly the same way, nor will they have the same convictions. This is normal and acceptable to God. We see a parrallel principle in I Corinthians 12 where not all have the same gifting, ministry, or effects; not all are eyes, feet, etc, but the Spirit has distributed according to His will. Personal convictions are much the same. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desire of your heart. Why? Because He puts the desire in your heart…His desires become your desires.

    So, if Francis Chan feels guilt about what he has versus what others don’t then he must do what he is convicted about doing. But, that doesn’t make it right or mandatory for me. My conviction may be in another area, and that is okay. If both Francis and I do what we are convicted about, then God will receive the glory and His work will be done, and His work is multi-faceted and uses the talents, gifts, opportunities, and convictions He has given each one of us.

    It is time for some to stop the guilt-whip, guilt-trip they are laying on the body; and instead encourage them to grow and to ask the Lord to give them the opportunity and matching conviction.

  33. Craig says:

    Congratulations to David and Kevin for discussing this topic in a generous, godly manner.

  34. I read the book and enjoyed much of it, but the challenge left me hanging. What is discipleship? It’s not just doing things, but moving in closer to Jesus and becoming more like Him in every way. I would have loved to have seen the core of discipleship set forth. Remember, the US is a foreign mission field to other countries and we have millions of people who have never heard the gospel of the Kingdom.

  35. Mike says:

    I am going through “Radical” with a group of young adults. I probably started off on the wrong foot with this book as the title sets the book up for failure…”Radical” might be better titled “Normal.”

    My biggest criticism of the book is that Dr. Platt defines “radical” Christianity as NOT doing something…NOT being selfish. Christianity is far more radical than not doing something! I agree with the admonition to stop being selfish…but please don’t stop there. Fuel hearts and minds with dreams and radical possibilities what God would have them to be and do and we start living a far grander story with small behaviors losing their grip.

  36. Sheri Kok says:

    Does it count if I share the gospel with a wealthy American (that I met while running my successful business in Southern California) who has never heard the gospel… or would you think better of me if I gave up my successful business and moved to the other side of the world to witness to a poor Asian person who had never heard the gospel? That second scenario would really showcase my devotion to Christ…people would be impressed. Hey, I would be impressed with myself! No one would ever even hear about my interaction with the wealthy American. Like it or not, intentional or not, Platt’s book gives higher marks if you go to a foreign country and concentrate on helping poor people. If our American churches are so filled with deluded pew occupants, why not start there or with the neighbor next door, or the guy you hired to paint your house (or do you feel guilty for owning a house while people are starving?) Someday it will be the right time for me to pass this business to someone else and perhaps go abroad to do something that is formally a mission- perhaps not. In the meantime, I think I will continue to run my business with integrity, honoring God and serving my customers well so that I can provide for myself and my family and also have something to share with those in need-weather close by or far away. And I will thank God for french fries and my house and give Him the glory for all things while living a quiet, peaceable life. I will wrestle with the temptation to over- indulge myself, to oevereat, to lie, to cheat, to steal in subtle ways to be lazy and self-centered. I will cry to God for my unsaved son. I will pray for my husband’s health. I will sing in the church choir and bring a plate of muffins to my neighbor who broke her foot. I am an ordinary Christian. To God be the glory.

  37. Dan says:

    In defense of “Radical” David Platt writes from the perspective of life for most peoples of the world throughout world history; people whom we Americans would say, “Have nothing”. With few exceptions, open up any garage door of an American household to see what Radical is talking about. The vast majority of Americans live, in this only time of world history, as the affluent and kingly. Praise the Lord for this. the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, not money in and of itself. However, proof that something terrible has gone wrong with America is the direction she is heading today. In the last 100 years we have taken our eyes off of Jesus, the message of Salvation, and the implications of sin and are now more concerned about what we read any day in the news. America has lost it’s way. But then those whom God will say, “well done, thy good and faithful servant”, will and have always been in the minority. As a missionary in Brazil there is not a day that goes by that i don’t ask the Lord for wisdom to live humbly as i serve those who are well below my social level. Millions in Brazil who live near poverty level are following the same lead as America today; a never ending spending money that they don’t have.

  38. Thomas Brunt says:

    One bad thing though about this book, (very few bad thing’s about the book): Would it cost true followers who really know the Lord to start doubting themselves about their belief & faith in Christ?

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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