Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hope people enjoy this lecture on the Sermon on the Mount.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Radical" Upsets but Inspires

David Platt's book is called Radical: Taking Back your
Faith from the American Dream. At time of writing, it stands at about 90 in Amazon sales rank. That means that out of the over seven million books on Amazon, this title is selling only ninety places away from number one! It's flying off the shelves.

I heard about it from a number of people who said they were reading it and found it provocative and even life-changing. After a certain number, I decided I didn't want to be the only one who hasn't read it.

Platt is a preacher in a southern mega-church near New Orleans. He has strong connections with missions, and has traveled quite a bit to missions works in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere. His strongest sections come from the comparisons he makes between the hard-core thirst for the word and for ministry in developing countries, and the consumer mentality that predominates in too much of the American church--something with which anyone who has done much work in these ministries is quite familiar.

Reviewers that hate his book are those who argue that being rich and enjoying it is a good thing, and they resent his suggestion that we should give up all to follow Jesus. So he has the right kind of enemies! People I've talked to who feel impacted by the book feel that way because he dares to call into question the soft, bourgeois assumptions that penetrate all of us who live in such luxury and wealth.

I found the book stirring and exciting at a number of points. I'm even hopeful that if a book worded this strongly can command the kind of attention it is, maybe some will be able to read my own book on the western church that should hit Amazon next week. (Right now, you can only buy it from Xenos or me).

I think it's important, when writing on the church, that we tell the truth about where we're at, and what the Bible says. But at the same time, we need to include positive ideas for change, and to his credit, Platt has stories of extraordinary sacrifice by wealthy Americans that clearly show our case is not hopeless. I hope my piece will be judged to be positive rather than negative as well.

I'm not into the lordship rhetoric Platt brings, and his approach is somewhat individualistic--everyone decides to do a ministry somewhere, but it's not cohesive. Much of the giving might be un-strategic, like giving an inner city poor person your video game box. But I'm not going to pick at his points, because I think this is good book. He calls for outreach, disciple making, and simple living. All good. All needed.

It kills me to wonder how many American readers will actually do what he suggests, like capping their income and selling their possessions to give to the poor. Many are reading it, but will any act on it? According to him, some people in his church are acting.

Anything that could stir people the way this one has must be saying something right. Read it.