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Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream [Paperback]

David Platt
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Review

Responses to Radical

“In his compelling new book, Radical, David Platt delivers a powerful picture of the church in America today that, on key points, stands in sharp contrast to what the Bible shows us about the person and purpose of Jesus Christ. David challenges Christians to wake up, trade in false values rooted in the American dream, and embrace the notion that each of us is blessed by God for a global purpose—to make Christ’s glory known to all the nations! This is a must-read for every believer!”
—Wess Stafford, president and CEO, Compassion Intl.

“We have moved into a generation of young leaders who have a passion to surrender the American dream if necessary in order to embrace fully, compassionately, and wholeheartedly a bigger dream—the Great Commission. I have never been challenged by an author more than I have by David Platt. Read Radical, be blessed, and be changed.”
—Johnny Hunt, president, Southern Baptist Convention, and pastor, First Baptist Church of Woodstock

“Radical will cause you to bounce on a spectrum between two words: ouch and amen. Tough truths do that. They challenge us to examine our lives and then choose the lasting over the temporary. Read Radical if you’re ready to live differently.”
—Gregg Matte, senior pastor, First Baptist Church of Houston

“David Platt’s book will leave anyone who sincerely engages with his challenge dissatisfied—and faced with a decision: What will authentic faith look like in my life? This book has the potential to revitalize churches today to practice a radical, biblical lifestyle that can transform society and reach a lost world.”
—Jerry Rankin, president, International Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention

“The church of the Lord Jesus has been seduced by a skilled seductress: the American dream. David Platt exposes this enemy of authentic Christianity and provides a way of escape through a radical faith that leads to a radical obedience. I am not the same after reading it. I trust that will also be true for you.”
—Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“It is almost impossible to keep the idols of our own culture from influencing us, whether we want it to happen or not. This is certainly true when it comes to the so-called American dream. We need our eyes opened! We need to be called out! In this challenging and thoughtful book, David Platt shows us the way to live for Someone and something bigger.”
—Darrin Patrick, founding pastor, The Journey, St. Louis

“Sometimes people will commend a book by saying, ‘You won’t want to put it down.’ I can’t say that about this book. You’ll want to put it down, many times. If you’re like me, as you read David Platt’s Radical, you’ll find yourself uncomfortably targeted by the Holy Spirit. You’ll see just how acclimated you are to the American dream. But you’ll find here another Way, one you know to be true, because you’ve heard it before in the words of the Lord Jesus, perhaps most forcefully in the simple call ‘Follow me.’”
—Russell D. Moore, dean, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Through solid examination of the Scriptures and compelling testimonies from believers enduring persecution, my friend David Platt pulls back the curtain on subtle dangers weakening the church in our Western culture. Radical is the urgent call we need to care more about the spiritually lost and physically impoverished people of the world.”
—Ed Stetzer, president, LifeWay Research

About the Author

DAVID PLATT is the pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, a four-thousand-member congregation in Birmingham, Alabama. Widely regarded as an exceptional expositor, David has traveled and taught around the world. He holds two undergraduate and three advanced degrees, including a doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. David and his wife, Heather, live in Birmingham with their family.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Someone Worth Losing Everything For
What Radical Abandonment to Jesus Really Means

   “The youngest megachurch pastor in history.”
   While I would dispute that claim, it was nonetheless the label given to me when I went to pastor a large, thriving church in the Deep South—the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. From the first day I was immersed in strategies for making the church bigger and better. Authors I respect greatly would make statements such as, “Decide how big you want your church to be, and go for it, whether that’s five, ten, or twenty thousand members.” Soon my name was near the top of the list of pastors of the fastest-growing U.S. churches.There I was…living out the American
church dream.
   But I found myself becoming uneasy. For one thing, my model in ministry is a guy who spent the majority of his ministry time with twelve men. A guy who, when he left this earth, had only about 120 people who were actually sticking around and doing what he told them to do. More like a minichurch, really. Jesus Christ—the youngest minichurch pastor in history.
   So how was I to reconcile the fact that I was now pastoring thousands of people with the fact that my greatest example in ministry was known for turning away thousands of people? Whenever the crowd got big, he’d say something such as, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”1 Not exactly the sharpest church-growth tactic. I can almost picture the looks on the disciples’ faces. “No, not the drink-my-blood speech! We’ll never get on the list of the fastest growing movements if you keep asking them to eat you.”
   By the end of that speech, all the crowds had left, and only twelve men remained.2 Jesus apparently wasn’t interested in marketing himself to the masses. His invitations to potential followers were clearly more costly than the crowds were ready to accept, and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said radical things. And through their radical obedience to him, he turned the course of history in a new direction.
   Soon I realized I was on a collision course with an American church culture where success is defined by bigger crowds, bigger budgets, and bigger buildings. I was now confronted with a startling reality: Jesus actually spurned the things that my church culture said were most important. So what was I to do? I found myself faced with two big questions.
   The first was simple. Was I going to believe Jesus? Was I going to embrace Jesus even though he said radical things that drove the crowds away?
   The second question was more challenging. Was I going to obey Jesus? My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus’ words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to him. In other words, my biggest fear is that I will do exactly what most people did when they encountered Jesus in the first century.
   That’s why I’ve written this book. I am on a journey. But I am convinced it is not just a journey for pastors. I am convinced these questions are critical for the larger 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.
   You and I can choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life and in the church as a whole, enjoying success based on the standards defined by the culture around us. Or we can take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed him and really obeyed him.
   I invite you to join the journey with me. I do not claim to have all the answers. If anything, I have more questions than answers. But if Jesus is who he said he is, and if his promises are as rewarding as the Bible claims they are, then we may discover that satisfaction in our lives and success in the church are not found in what our culture deems most important but in radical abandonment to Jesus.

Puddles of Tears

Imagine all the blinds closed on the windows of a dimly lit room. Twenty leaders from different churches in the area sat in a circle on the floor with their Bibles open. Some of them had sweat on their foreheads after walking for miles to get there. Others were dirty from the dust in the villages from which they had set out on bikes early that morning.
   They had gathered in secret.They had intentionally come to this place at different times throughout the morning so as not to draw attention to the meeting that was occurring. They lived in a country in Asia where it is illegal for them to gather like this. If caught, they could lose their land, their jobs, their families, or their lives.
   I listened as they began sharing stories of what God was doing in their churches. One man sat in the corner. He had a strong frame, and he served as the head of security, so to speak.Whenever a knock was heard at the door or a noise was made outside the window, everyone in the room would freeze in tension as this brother would go to make sure everything was okay. As he spoke, his tough appearance soon revealed a tender heart.
   “Some of the people in my church have been pulled away by a cult,” he said. This particular cult is known for kidnapping believers, taking them to isolated locations, and torturing them. Brothers and sisters having their tongues cut out of their mouths is not uncommon.
   As he shared about the dangers his church members were facing, tears welled up in his eyes. “I am hurting,” he said, “and I need God’s grace to lead my church through these attacks.”
   A woman on the other side of the room spoke up next. “Some of the members in my church were recently confronted by government officials.” She continued, “They threatened their families, saying that if they did not stop gathering to study the Bible, they were going to lose everything they had.” She asked for prayer, saying, “I need to know how to lead my church to follow Christ even when it costs them everything.”
   As I looked around the room, I saw that everyone was now in tears. The struggles expressed by this brother and sister were not isolated. They all looked at one another and said, “We need to pray.” Immediately they went to their knees, and with their faces on the ground, they began to cry out to God. Their prayers were marked less by grandiose theological language and more by heartfelt praise and pleading.
   “O God, thank you for loving us.”
   “O God, we need you.”
   “Jesus, we give our lives to you and for you.”
   “Jesus, we trust in you.”
   They audibly wept before God as one leader after another prayed. After about an hour, the room drew to a silence, and they rose from the floor. Humbled by what I had just been a part of, I saw puddles of tears in a circle around the room.
   In the days since then, God has granted me many other opportunities to gather with believers in underground house churches in Asia. Men and women there are risking everything to follow Christ.
   Men like Jian, an Asian doctor who left his successful health clinic and now risks his life and the lives of his wife and two kids in order to provide impoverished villages with medical care while secretly training an entire network of house-church leaders.
   Women like Lin, who teaches on a university campus where it is illegal to spread the gospel. She meets in secret with college students to talk about the claims of Christ, though she could lose her livelihood for doing so.
   Teenagers like Shan and Ling, who have been sent out from house churches in their villages to undergo intensive study and preparation for taking the gospel to parts of Asia where there are no churches.
   Ling said to me, “I have told my family that I will likely never come back home. I am going to hard places to make the gospel known, and it is possible that I will lose my life in the process.”
   Shan added, “But our families understand. Our moms and dads have been in prison for their faith, and they have taught us that Jesus is worthy of all our devotion.”

A Different Scene

Three weeks after my third trip to underground house churches in Asia, I began my first Sunday as the pastor of a church in America. The scene was much different. Dimly lit rooms were now replaced by an auditorium with theater-style lights. Instead of traveling for miles by foot or bike to gather for worship, we had arrived in millions of dollars’ worth of vehicles. Dressed in our fine clothes, we sat down in our cushioned chairs.
   To be honest, there was not much at stake. Many had come because this was their normal routine. Some had come simply to check out the new pastor. But none had come at the risk of their lives.
   That afternoon, crowds filled the parking lot of our sprawling multimillion-dollar church campus. Moms, dads, and their kids jumped on inflatable games. Plans were being discussed for using the adjacent open land to build state-of-the-art recreation fields and facilities to support more events like this.
   Please don’t misunderstand this scene. It was filled with wonderful, well-meaning, Bible-believing Christians who want...
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