Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream is written by Dr. David Platt. Dr. Platt is the former pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama and has a membership of over 4,000. Dr. Platt earned a doctorate degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and is an acclaimed Pastor, author, and speaker. The book teaches what total abandonment to Christ really means. The book is a wakeup call to Christians throughout America because it shows what importance we place on material goods.
Platt gets to the point in page three where he states, “I am convinced that we as Christ followers in American churches have embraced values and ideas that are not only unbiblical but that actually contradict the gospel we claim to believe. And I am convinced we have a choice.” The words Platt writes are hard hitting and convicting in this regard. We have become self-reliant and dependent of material goods as a way of gauging success instead of being reliant on God. We have become lost in this reality, and as a result we have lost the missional nature that the church was when it first started. We can choose to continue with business as usual or we can believe Jesus and what he said in scripture.
To start the work Platt gives an account of a missions trip he was on overseas. He was visiting Christians who had to meet secretly in homes, and described their thirst for the knowledge of scripture. He then compares that scenario with that of American Christianity where we meet in the open with no fear. This forsaking of self is what the American church needs to get back to its former glory. This forsaking of self emphasizes the depravity of man, and his redemption in Christ when Christ is put first. Platt makes this point by stating, “There is not much at stake. Many had come because this was their normal routine. Some had come simply to check out the new pastor. But none had come at the risk of their lives.” There is a risk to falling to the consumer mentality in America to gain church members. According to Platt some people come to be entertained instead of studying the word of God.
Platt writes, “As the American dream goes, we can do anything we set our minds to accomplish.” Though self-confidence is a good thing, we can turn ourselves into idols if we are not careful. Platt challenges us to not rely solely on ourselves to drive church membership or to evangelize, but to rely on God to do the things only He can do. There are many things that we are unable to do and we get frustrated by this. However God delights in this because it humbles us and allows Him to use us.
In chapter five Platt challenges Christians of all persuasions. It is a challenge of a multiplying community that is creating and growing disciples. If we are to live as Jesus lived then we must do everything He asks of us. According to Platt learning scripture should have a twofold purpose: Personal spiritual growth and helping us multiply disciples by teaching it to others. Platt states, “When we realize we have the responsibility to teach the Word, it changes everything about how we hear the Word.” With this in mind the love that was shown to us by Christ when we were saved must also be given to others. To take this further Platt implies that if we are not having any impact on the world after our conversion that here is something horribly wrong.
In Chapter seven Platt lists seven truths that must be taken to all lost people in the world which are the following: All people have knowledge of God, all people reject God, all people are guilty before God, all people are condemned for rejecting God, God has made a way for salvation, people cannot come to God apart from faith in Christ, and all believers must make the Gospel known to all nations. We must fulfill the Great Commission at all costs, but is that being done? It boils down to whether the church is willing to sacrifice our comforts and being obedient. Platt argues that at this point the American church is not being fully obedient.
Platt ends his work will a challenge. He calls it the “radical experiment: and it includes the following components that should be completed within one year: Pray for the entire world, read through the entire Bible, sacrifice your money for a specific purpose, spend your time in another context, and commit your life to a multiplying community. He contends that if these components are done faithfully then the believer will come alive like never before. By following these components the believer will abandon self and be willing to sacrifice for the sake of Christ.
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream is a hard hitting book meant to motivate all believers. It provides the framework for missional living and looks at how consumerism has infiltrated the church and weakened evangelism zeal. Ed Stetzer says in the endorsements, “Radical is the urgent call we need to care more about the spiritually lost and physically impoverished people of the world.”
These two items would be enough to make a book work reading, but there are more strengths. Platt goes into detail to explain why one would gain life by sacrificing for Christ. He explains that this is precisely what Christ said, and it is what the early church did. As a result they grew to a worldwide force in a very short period of time.
A couple weaknesses of the book seems to be an admission to the very consumerism that Platt is rejecting. In chapter one of the work he describes an article about Baptists helping by sending funds overseas. He reveals that the funds sent amounted to the small amount of $5,000. In the same paragraph he seems to condemn the new $23 million sanctuary built by first Baptist church. Platt himself boasts a multi-million dollar campus and uses some of the methods he decries in the book. To be fair it is a matter of context and intention of the heart. If the purpose is to build new building to make it appealing for non-members that may be an issue, and that seems to be where he is heading. However to the uninformed reader it could look like potential hypocrisy.
The “Radical” plan listed at the end of the book is something many preachers and teachers have endorsed for centuries. Reading the scriptures, reaching out to others, and living a missional life should be expected of all Christians. The plan is great and should be followed, but to call it “Radical” is a little misleading.
To say that this book convicted me would be an understatement. Every day I drive by homeless people on my way to work, and most of the time I would drive by without so much as a prayer. Missional living is the way to bring others to Christ and I have not been doing a great job. Within this context was the idea of sacrificial living. I volunteer and give financially to the church and other organizations, but it is out of excess. I am not really sacrificing but giving what I was not going to use anyway.
I have learned that I must give of myself to be better able to tell the Gospel message. No longer will I give scraps of what I do not need, no longer will I have ten second conversations, but will be more relational and missional to show Christ to the world around me. For all too long it has been about my needs and my wants, and not about His needs and His wants. There is work that has to be done with my own heart, and this book did its job by making me uncomfortable with how I am living. Selfless living, living the way that Christ lived and called us to is what we must do to reinvigorate the church in America. That starts with us. It starts with me.
Every believer is called to spread the Gospel, and this book will be helpful to all believers fulfilling this command. As previously stated Platt does a great job in motivating the reader to turn his life around and live in a missional manner. The work makes the reader think and contemplate his own life. The reader is challenges to put Christ first and his interests last. This is a tough lesson for all of us as we feel the need to be in control at all times. It is letting God be in control that is radical. Radical will convict you to live and share your faith as never before.
Platt, David. Radical. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2010.
 David Platt, Radical (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2010), 3.
 Ibid 3.
 David Platt, Radical (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2010), 7.
 Ibid, 45.
 Ibid, 47.
 David Platt, Radical (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2010), 102.
 Ibid, 143-157.
 Ibid, 185.
 David Platt, Radical (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2010), endorsement page.
 Ibid, 16.