Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

by David Platt

This little book can destroy your way of life as an American. If you’ve embraced “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as yours by right, then you should continue to do so without the message of David Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church, or you’ll be be forced to evaluate your citizenship.

In essence, Platt points out that the teachings of Jesus slay the American dream. The Christian does not have the right to selfish pursuit of self-satisfaction.

Platt’s actual writing style is curt and pointed, it may be that the message itself shapes the tone of the book. Platt takes American Christians to task for thoughtlessly ignoring the plain commands of the New Testament in relation to lifestyle, possessions and life purpose.

I see it as an uncomfortable followup to Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. Reading these two books back-to-back will most assuredly kick a comfortable Christian in their blessed assurance.

We have unnecessarily (and unbiblically) drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all. In this way we choose to send off other people to carry out the global purpose of Christianity while the rest of us sit back because because we’re “just not called to do that.”

Platt urges Christians to return to mission and embrace the purpose of God for their lives. It was not to accumulate and spend and ignore the needs of those around the world (or across the county).

He recounts the story of a friend who journeyed to a remote village in southeast Asia to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ. Upon entering the village in which not a single person had ever heard the name of “Jesus,” he was offered a Coca Cola by one of the tribesman. Platt comments,

A soft drink company in Atlanta has done a better job getting brown sugar water to those people than the church of Jesus Christ has done in getting the gospel to them.

Platt’s book is not unique. There have been identical voices over the past 100 years in American culture echoing the same message. Francis Schaeffer was one. Keith Green sang a similar message. Platt happens to be the latest young voice to this rising chorus. Perhaps a new generation will take the message seriously.

While I was challenged by the book, I think that it also needs the balanced corrective of God’s deep and majestic love for His people. Platt comes across many times as simply… angry. The book seems to need a great dose of the joy and love of God.

While the salvation of the nations is a mighty and preeminent goal of the church, we cannot allow ourselves to be motivated by guilt. This book comes across as heavy on that.

While guilt is an excellent motivator, it’s a poor sustainer. We must look our Father in the face, come to terms with the amazing grace that has made our own salvation possible, and then in humble gratitude and eager joy embrace God’s mission for us all in a way that magnifies Him and not the nations’ needs.

Platt calls for his readers to join him in a “radical experiment” over the course of a year. I’ll leave you to discover the five challenges of that experiment as you read the book. However, I can guarantee (as does Platt) that if you should accept the challenges, your life will never be the same, and you’ll discover the joy of waking up from your American snooze and experience the beauty of truly living.

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