Radical by David Platt: Review, Thoughts, and a Call to Action

Last night, I finished reading the book Radical by David Platt. You’ll probably recognize it by the cover if you click on the link: it’s the book with the bright orange cover and the subtitle, “Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.” It lives up to its title and its subtitle, too–this book is not for the faint of heart.

What really gets me about this book is not necessarily just how convicting it is–there are plenty of books that are–but how specifically it calls us to action. The first chunk of the book is paradigm-shifting, to be sure, but what really gives this book its strength is the practical plan it lays out at the end for taking action on that conviction. Radical challenges you to look at the gospel the way it really is, not the way you want it to be. It is a brave, insightful, and completely practical book, but in a way that could radically change your life.

Also, I want to directly address one rather critical review I read that specifically criticizes Platt’s argument that the command to go and make disciples applies to all Christians, not just those who are specifically “gifted” for it. The critic argues that this is unfair and impractical, because that’s assuming everyone has the same giftings and that you should feel guilty if you don’t feel passionate about preaching or teaching the way others do. I disagree. Platt says the Bible calls us to discipleship, not necessarily preaching. And what is discipleship, really, other than intimate, caring, self-giving, God-centered relationships? Sharing God with others doesn’t mean you’re gifted with teaching–it means that God is important enough in your life that you’ll answer Jesus’s call to tell others about Him.

So, obviously, I think you should read this book. What I want to talk about, though, is the section that convinced me to buy it, the last chapter of the book. This chapter is called “The Radical Experiment: One Year to a Life Turned Upside Down.” Here’s what the author has to say about it:

Claims [such as those found in this book] remain theories until they are tested. That is the reason for the experiment. As you test a claim, you discover either its futility or its reality. And once you discover a claim’s reality, then you’re more likely to adjust your perspective, rearrange your thoughts, and alter your life around that truth. It will turn your life upside down–or, really, right side up.

So I challenge you to an experiment. 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 radial 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.

The experiment, as you probably gathered, lasts for one year. Its requirements are these:

  1. Pray for the entire world.
  2. Read through the entire Word.
  3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose.
  4. Spend your time in another context.
  5. Commit your life to a multiplying community.

I’ll explain each part briefly. For a fuller explanation, either check out the book (which I definitely recommend you do anyway) or check out the site that the author has created with resources and explanations for the experiment here.

Here are, in the author’s words from his website, the short versions of what each of these requirements looks like:

Pray for the entire world

Using the resources provided by Operation World, pray together for the entire world over the course of a year.

Read through the entire Word

Using a chronological Bible Reading plan, read through the entire Bible. This site will provide a Bible Reading Plan and scripture memory for each week. (Additional Bible Reading Plans are listed on the Resource page of this site).

Commit your life to multiplying community

Commit yourself wholeheartedly to the local church. But even deeper than that, commit yourself to a small group that is intentionally sharing, showing, and teaching the Word while serving the world together.

Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose

For the next year, look at all of your expenses as a church, as individuals and as families through the lens of specific need in the world. Work to set a cap on your lifestyle so that you can free up as much of your resources as possible for the sake of the glory of Christ in His church, among the lost, and among the poor.

Spend your time in another context

As you are making disciples in your community, commit, as individuals and families, to give 2% (one week) of your time in Gospel ministry outside of your community for the sake of God’s glory in all the world.

This is, to me, a very Biblical, practical, and yet radical challenge. It comes to me at a very apt time: on Tuesday, I’m leaving Colorado to pursue several internships in Washington, DC for the summer. In the next year, I will likely be in DC for about seven months, Pittsburgh for about four months, Colorado for a little less than a month, and China for a little less than a month. All of this is obviously not set in stone, but there’s likely to be a lot of relative instability in my life in the next twelve months. My inclination is to look for spiritual stability, but seeing as though it seems I’m about to embark to (several) spiritual battlegrounds, I think what I really need is radical spiritual growth.

But here’s the thing. I’d rather not do it alone, which brings me to my call to action. I’d like to call my Christian friends, and maybe even those I don’t even know who happen to be reading my blog, to embark on this journey with me. Or maybe you’re not even sure about this whole Jesus thing, but you’re willing to find out if He is who He says He is. I want to invite all of you to take the plunge with me–let’s set aside the next year of our lives, no matter where we may be or at what phase, to put everything out there. Let’s take Jesus at His word and find out what happens.

A journey like this isn’t meant to be taken alone. See if this is something you’re interested in diving into, and let’s talk.

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