Monthly Archives: April 2011

Review: Radical

Book review: Radical by David Platt.

The subtitle of this book captures the essence of Platt’s challenge: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. In that vein, the author, a pastor of a large, four-thousand member congregation in Birmingham, Alabama joins a host of other writers who have similarly approached this topic. Unlike other books I’ve read, Platt seeks to provide, not only a critique, but a map for believers to follow in changing their own attitudes. Platt writes about why he wrote Radical:

I am on a journey. But I am convinced it is not just a journey for pastors. I am convinced these questions [that he has regarding the American cultural view of Christianity] are critical for the large community of faith in our country today. 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.

His main thesis seems to be that we have missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable; replaced it with the American dream rather than God’s call to sacrifice for the sake of the larger Gospel mission.

There is much to commend in this work":

  • Platt is clear that many in our churches may think they are saved when they are not; many have been told that mere intellectual assent to Jesus is all that is required, but “after that we need not worry about his commands, his standards or his glory. We have a ticket to heaven, and we can live however we want on earth.” He’s not teaching a works-based salvation, but rather the gift of grace that involves the gift of a new heart, desires, longings … and that should have a great impact on how we live and serve.
  • He writes that, contrary to the Gospel and biblical Christianity, we have made ourselves the object of our faith. Today when we look for a church we now look for what fits me and my family. We have changed the message to be “God loves me, period," however the message of biblical Christianity is “God loves me so that I might make him-his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness—known among all nations.” We are not the end of the gospel; God is. This emphasis on the foundational sovereignty of God is refreshing.
  • Throughout the book, Platt reminds us that when we are enmeshed in a culture we tend to form blind spots about how that culture is impacting our faith. This is especially true when it comes to the concept of wealth and poverty in America, and in most American churches.

Radical might be an uncomfortable book to read – especially for those in wealthy congregations, but it is worth the effort. Platt will make you think, and, if you don’t buy his plan for challenging our cultural presuppositions, you will have to consider how you, or your church, might become more biblical. 

41-0dIit3XL__SS400_Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


Normalizing Sin

Russell Moore nailed a significant, but subtle, issue in his post today. I think that it is worthy of much deeper reflection – especially the way we tend to “normalize” pride and diminish genuine Christian humility. His post is an excerpt from a new book. These two paragraphs called me out:

Most of us know that pride and status-hunger are character flaws, but we rarely see the satanism of pride in our own situations. Part of that is because of how fallen humanity normalizes pride. We grow accustomed to thinking of self-exaltation, at least to some manageable degree, as a “normal” part of leadership and drive.

In Christian ministry self-promotion and egotism are rewarded because the more a Christian crows about his superior prayer life or his cutting-edge research or his ability to grow churches or movements, the more an audience tends to believe it. Genuine Christian humility, by contrast, often seems mousy or non-assertive by contrast. When so many leaders are proud, it becomes very difficult for the Spirit-convicted psyche to discern, “Am I prideful, or am I a leader?”

Common Sense Fiction?

Book Review: The Final Summit: A Quest to Find the One Principle That Will Save Humanity by Andy Andrews

The bottom line. You’ll find some interesting philosophy, some history that you might find surprising, and very little clear biblical truth. If you are like me, you’ll appreciate the attempt at meaningful fiction yet you’ll be frustrated with the attempt.

This is a work of fiction, but Christian fiction should reflect biblical truth in some way – especially when it purports to engage with the vital principles of life and society. A wealthy man who is known for his wisdom and sagacity garnered from a previous “time travel journey” is summoned by the archangel Gabriel to lead a summit of great historical people. The group must discover the one solution, expressed in two words, that will save humanity from dire consequences. The bulk of the story is built around the interaction of the historical figures sharing their thoughts about the situation. They ultimately come to the “correct” solution, but to be honest, I never felt that that would not happen.

In some ways, The Final Summit seems more like a Patrick Lencioni fable where the story is clearly contrived to make a philosophical and practical point. I felt that the point made was mostly platitudinous rather than significant.

Andrews includes just about every “good guy” in history in his heavenly scene. No one specifically mentions God, and the worldview seems to be a bit inclusive of all spirituality and human effort. There is a significant theme of human effort with little comment on the grace and sovereignty of God. There is much talk about the weaknesses of mankind, but the fundamental truth of sin and rejection of God absent.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.