Thursday, February 17, 2011

My 2011 Book List: Radical - A Book Review

Honestly, I have been putting off this book review for a little while.  This was the book I read in January and I have been re-reading and making notes because I want to do a good review.

Radical is a very good book.  While trying to decide what I would say and how I would review this book I found a review of this book by Kevin DeYoung.

I do think David Platt is onto something.  American Christians have the rare opportunity to live in a place where we are mostly not persecuted for our beliefs.  We also do not have to sacrifice very much to be Christians.  We are also blessed economically even if we are considered "poor" in America; we are still rich by the rest of the world's standards.  I feel at times though as David Platt blurred the lines of salvation and discipleship, such as one section in the book where he is describing what Jesus told his disciples in Luke.  Jesus was stating in John 14:26 ""If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple." and Platt says something to the effect that this looks a lot different then "Accept, Believe, Confess" - referring to salvation.

And I think we first and foremost have to remember that salvation is not by works and that Jesus was talking about discipleship.  Now you know that I am not a theologian so I will now quote some of the things that Kevin DeYoung said about Radical.

Regarding poverty in the world,

. . . we need a better understanding of poverty and wealth in the world. The Christian needs to be generous, but generous charity is not the answer to the world’s most pressing problems of hunger, inadequate medical care, and grinding poverty. Wealth is created in places where the rule of law is upheld, property rights are secured, people are free to be entrepreneurs, and there is sufficient social capital to encourage risk-taking. We can and should do good with our giving. But we must not lead people to believe that most of human suffering would be alleviated if we simply gave more.
 Another good point that Kevin makes:
. . . there is an implicit, underlying utilitarian ethic in many “radical” streams of Christianity that makes faithfulness to Christ impossibly daunting. To his credit, Platt says we don’t need to feel guilty for everything that is not an absolute necessity (127). But earlier we are made to feel bad for the money we spend on french fries (108). It is easy to stir people to action by relating how little everyone else has and how much we have in America, but we are not meant to have constant low-level guilt because we could be doing more.
 And finally from Kevin:
I don’t worry for David’s theology, but I worry that some young Christians reading his book might walk away wondering if a life spent working as a loan officer, tithing to their church, praying for their kids, learning to love Christ more, and serving in the Sunday school could possibly be pleasing to God. We need to find a way to attack the American dream while still allowing for differing vocations and that sort of ordinary Christian life that can plod along for fifty years. I imagine David wants this same thing. I’m just not sure this came through consistently in the book.
Fifth and finally, we must do more to plant the plea for sacrificial living more solidly in the soil of gospel grace. Several times David talks about the love of Christ as our motivation for radical discipleship or the power of God and the means for radical discipleship. But I didn’t sense the strong call to obedience was slowly marinated in God’s lavish mercy. I wanted to see sanctification more clearly flowing out of justification.
I think Radical is a good book to wake us up to see what is going on in the churches around the world and to make us question our motives for why we do what we do, but it is just that - a book.  It is not the Bible and we still must make the Bible our number one resource for how we live our lives.

**And don't forget to enter my giveaway!

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