3/17/2013

Radical by David Platt- Book Review

So why would an unpaid blogger, writing on a website that nobody reads, take the time to criticize a book so roundly praised by "church leaders" as David Platt's "Radical". Well the answer is simple. I'm a Baptist. You see, we Baptists do not just follow and trust what out pastor, deacons, or other "leaders" tell us. No, we Baptists, who believe in the priesthood of the believer, actually tend to show up to church with our Bible's in hand, and believe it or not, when our preacher says something we do not agree with, well, we tell him that we think he is wrong. Knowing that all Baptist churches are autonomous and believe different things, we may even pack up and join another congregation from time to time, even going as far as to congregate with Methodists.

While I certainly love my church family and have the utmost respect for our young pastor, I do however, wish he had not exposed us to Dr. Platt's Bible Study, at least not the videos. In fact, I considered my first exposure to Platt's teaching to have been a form of child abuse. While sitting there with my 8 year old, Dr. Platt kept screaming over and over again "Hate your mother! Hate your father! Hate your Mom and Dad!" Now I know what verse he was preaching about (Luke 14:26), and I understand the context of that passage. But my 8 year old son was obviously confused, mainly because it took what seemed like a good half hour for the pastor to get around to that context, which he still did not explain very well. If his purpose was to shock, he did much worse. He made me quite angry. That evening I had to sit down with my son and discuss what happened to him that morning. After that day, I decided that I was not going to sit through another minute of these videos without first reading the book. After all, maybe I was wrong about this guy.

Well I did indeed read his book and in fairness, I found many good things in it. I certainly respect the man for his mission work and his passion, and I very much enjoyed the inspirational stories of believers from all over the world.  I found a few things, however, to be quite disturbing and in my opinion, not Biblical. Among those were: his emphasis on works and the questioning of other's salvation, his rejection and criticism of the traditional church, and his attack on the American dream and "materialism".

I Chapter 2, Dr. Platt scoffs "The modern day Gospel says 'God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Therefore follow these steps and you can be saved.'" Well yes, count me as one who believes that! Perhaps us modern day Gospel types have read Acts 16:31, or Acts 2:21, or maybe Romans 10:9. Dr. Platt even goes so far as to call the Sinners Prayer "superstitious". The whole second chapter is quite shocking actually, as he tells how he fears that many people who think they are saved, actually are not. So much for "blessed assurance". No, according to most of Chapter 2, if you are not in a constant state of fear that drives you to tireless works, then you are not saved. Strangely though, he ends this Chapter by writing, "You might think that this sounds as though we have to earn our way to Jesus through radical obedience...." I was listening to the audio version of the book when the author made this statement, and I screamed out "YES, that's exactly what it sounds like!" He finally ended the chapter by referencing Ephesians 2:8, which seemed strangely out of place. I compare that chapter to hearing a speaker go into a long racist diatribe and then end his speech with, "But I'm not a racist." Maybe that is a poor analogy, but my point is, that regardless of the way the chapter ended, the reader in no way leaves it thinking that the author believes that anything less than exceptionally good works and obedience is required to get to heaven.

While reading this book, I thought about one of those old Billy Graham revivals and how Dr. Platt would likely scoff at such an event, where hundreds of people walk down front and recite that Sinners Prayer that he calls "superstitious". When Reverend Graham invites people to accept Jesus into their hearts, would Dr. Platt ask, as he does in his book, "Does Billy Graham really think that Jesus needs their acceptance?" Dr. Platt infers that everyone, yes every single believer, is called required to do global mission work. I crossed out the word called, because he doesn't believe global missions to be a calling, but that all, every single believer, is commanded to go to foreign lands, based on the great commission. But if missionaries are not answering a calling, are pastors, is anybody? This is strange and unbiblical to me. I believe that if one is led by the Holy Spirit, it is quite possible that he will never leave the city he was born in. Dr. Platt has done many great things as a missionary, but are we second class Christians because God has not asked us to do the same things? This type of thinking is common for a "radical" personality. The radical quits eating pork, and suddenly everybody has to quit eating pork. The radical gives up secular music, and suddenly everybody has to give up secular music. Dr. Platt has obviously been called to go to foreign lands, so obviously everybody is.

The most offending part of this book though, is the author's lack of understanding of capitalism and free markets, and his rejection of the American idea. In one of his anecdotes, he speaks of a "nationalistic" congregation and he continually shames Americans for being so rich, while the world is so poor. At times I thought I was reading something written by Jim Wallis. I thought to myself, this is not a book written for the religious right, but the religious left. It is not only anti-American, but anti-capitalist. This is the language of liberation theology or social justice, and it is a guilt that this American dreamer, this pursuer of happiness, outright rejects. We should not be spurning the American dream, as Dr. Platt teaches, but rather we should be embracing it, and exporting it. If we live in a mansion that requires a full time landscaper, a full time housekeeper, and a full time cook, are we noble for "downsizing" and putting those three people out of work? Perhaps we should all stop buying new clothing and instead shop at thrift stores. Being one who has worked in retail for the last 15 years, would that be helping people like me and my family? Of all of the charities Rockefeller and Carnegie created in their later years, none of those societal contributions compare to what the mass production of steel or the refining of oil did for this country, and yes they did these great things solely for the purpose of making a profit. As the great Adam Smith once wrote "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." But if the jobs these men provided, and their contribution to an improved American standard of living, still do not impress you as much as their charity, ask yourself, would that charity have ever been possible if the money was not first made?

These "poor" countries Dr. Platt speaks of, are poor precisely because they are not free, because the people there despise the wealthy and support demagogic dictators that exploit their envy. And why does this destructive economic mindset exist in these countries? Well obviously the Marxists have influence in the third world, but the Marxists would have gotten nowhere if the foundation for their class warfare was not first laid by religion. Now obviously I am not opposed to charity and helping the poor. I am aware though, that based on history, the best standard of living for the poor is found in countries where markets are free and people are allowed, even encouraged to make as much as they can, and to spend that money they make. It is no coincidence that these countries are also the most generous. In South and Central America, where liberation theology and socialism rule the day, poverty is a way of life.

In conclusion, perhaps my criticism is too harsh. Maybe my perception is completely wrong. Often times, one person can see things totally different than another. This could very well apply in this situation, because after praising "Radical", my pastor steps up to the podium and preaches a wonderful sermon, that to me sounds nothing like David Platt. But I read what I read and thus had to comment on it. Why? Because I'm a Baptist.

Other reviews of "Radical" can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

60 comments:

Anonymous said...

03/30/2013

Glen,

I attended Secret Church last night. Well, I attended 4 hours of it and left because I couldn't sit in a straight backed chair any longer, and David Platt's legalism and anti-American attitude had totally turned me off. I have also read "Radical."
Your analysis is quite right, and I admire your willingness to speak up for what you believe. It seems to me that in my Baptist Church, which shall remain nameless, that members are discouraged from expressing any views contrary to the "party line" in the interest of "unity."
I wonder if it ever occurred to David Platt that he would be unable to go to foreign lands without the financial contributions of successful businessmen, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, teachers, and other people who work 50 weeks a year, often much more than 40 hours per week.

Glen said...

Thanks so much for commenting. Sometimes I feel like I'm all alone out here in the way I feel about Dr. Platt's teachings. One of the reasons I wrote this, is that I know that there must be others that feel the same way. But people don't want to rock the boat, so they just go along to get along, until this passes like everything else. Thanks again for stopping by and commenting. Maybe eventually, more people will stand up and point out that this just isn't right.

Robert said...

Glen,

Very much like and appreciate your essay. Well written and thoughtful.

I like Platt and have profited greatly from his Secret Church series on the character of God and the Cross. He's obviously a passionate believer with a strong intellectual mind.

I'm reminded what Ray Steadman told one of the men he was mentoring (decades ago). Steadman's advice was "don't publish your first book before your 40." I think the same advice could be given to Platt. The size of Brook Hills and his popularity have given him a wide voice at a very early part in his life.

We may be seeing part of the dark side of this situation.

Glen said...

Thanks Robert. A little grace should definitely be afforded to the youth. If you had given me such a large platform at such an early age, it certainly would not have been good.

Glen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

I read every word of this blog post and found myself nodding my head all the way through! After reading Platt's books "Radical", "Follow Me", and Francis Chan's "Crazy Love" (all in very much the same vein) I was left wondering whether I was really a Christian or not. I'm just a regular guy who gets up early every day, six days a week to work at two jobs to support my wife and four children, but Platt's writing made me feel like I STILL wasn't doing enough, like I STILL wasn't obeying Jesus enough. His view seems to be that unless you've pulled up all stakes and become a missionary in some third world country, you're not really saved or following Christ. There is a growing body of people who call Platt's message "the new legalism"--and it's true. Thank you for this thoughtful, well-written blog post.

Glen said...

Legalism is exactly what it is Mark. Thanks for your kind words and thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Glen,

I found your blog when I did a search for Platt's Radical bible study. You see, my wife and I spoke with a friend of ours and we decided to start, on our own, a small group (maybe 4-5 couples) bible study. Since they want me to be the "facilitator", my wife and I went to the Lifeway store and wrote down a few titles and authors that I would then research. Platt was the first one on my list to check out. You sound a lot like me: Baptist, pro-America, pro-capitalist, question everything. I'm thankful for your criticsm of Platt. Now I know to keep away from him (like I will keep away from Rick Warren and a few other seeker friendly preachers).

Have you read through, or gone through, any good small group bible studies that you can recommend?

-Steve

Dara Harvey said...

You certainly are not alone in your thoughts on David Platt's teachings, writings, etc. My husband and I were members of Brook Hills from 2003 to 2010 (before and during David's time). We were excited when David was called to be the new pastor. Five years later, however, after attempting to live the "Radical Experiment," we'd had enough. I had never felt so tired and discouraged in my walk with Christ. Legalism is the only way I can describe it. I also couldn't take any more of the "cult of David Platt," where so many people absorb every word he speaks as if it were a new rendition of the Gospel. David is very young and inexperienced, and seems not to understand how human beings, people who want to follow Christ but don't know how, will respond to his preaching. When we joined Brook Hills in 2003, we went to one church-sponsored dinner with a Q&A session about the church's position on doctrinal issues. However, since David became the pastor, the membership process has been stretched into three months of classes and 75 pages of homework. Nowhere during those three months is there an opportunity to get to know Dr. Platt himself.

My husband and I have since joined another Baptist church where we are growing again, going deeper into what the Bible really says (shockingly, it includes a lot of discussion on a concept called grace, which David seems to overlook). I would never assume that God can't use a young man like David to preach his Word. But in this instance, I think David was just way too young to become a pastor, especially at a church like Brook Hills, with the resources and reputation to give a megaphone to whatever its pastor says. It is concerning how many people seem to buy into whatever David is selling, just because it's from David Platt, and how few seem to question whether it's biblically sound. Just because he went to seminary doesn't mean he's an expert on all things biblical. That's the hard lesson I learned from my experience in his congregation. Thank you for speaking out about this, as I too am convinced that others may feel this way, but are too timid as yet to say anything, even to themselves.

Dean Francis said...

THANK YOU to this couple who shared their experience (posted July 29 2013). I realize this may be just one couple, but it matches exactly what I thought when I listened to just the Introduction and first chapter of Radical. The book was recommended to me, and I love great preaching and Christian books that provoke my mind and soul, ultimately challenging me to grow more in my faith. But immediately, the thoughts of anti-American, legalism, and cult overwhelmed me. I tried again a few months later to listen to the book (on audio) more, listen to a few of his messages, and watch him speak to Liberty Univ students on youtube. I appreciate his challenge to wake us up and realize we have believers overseas who need our help and to trim our budgets personally and in churches. But ultimately, he's using guilt and shame to manipulate. It's probably unintentional on his part, but it risks more Christians either attempting to live an external Christianity or become overwhelmed with inability and quit trying.

Dara Harvey said...

You're very welcome Mr. Francis. Encouraging others who have also come to this conclusion is the precise reason for my comment above.

I agree with your take on David's message. In my opinion (for what it's worth), the entire Radical Experiment appears to be based on a conflation and magnification of Matthew 28:19 and the story of the Rich Young Ruler, at the expense of the rest of the Bible. It risks leading Christians to attempt an external faith (simply to prove to themselves that they must be saved if they are doing so much to help the poor), and/or becoming overwhelmed and exhausted.

My husband and I went through both of these phases. The couple mentioned on pp. 131-32 of Radical (who randomly gave to the poor) was my husband and me. My husband's email to David is what is quoted there. We gave David permission to use that email in his book, but by the time the book was published we had come to the conclusion that this just is not biblical and left Brook Hills. I now regret that our attempt to live out the Radical Experiment, which left us feeling empty and exhausted, is used in Radical to propel others into similar attempts at "obedience." That quote in Radical certainly does not tell the whole story of what we experienced.

We still know a significant number of people at Brook Hills who continue to support and believe in his message. At the same time, we know many, many others who have left Brook Hills for the same reason we did (including former staff members there). So however popular David's message has turned out to be, you are not alone in your concerns about it. I can only pray that those who are stumbling in their attempts to follow the Radical Experiment and its underlying philosophy will soon remember that our God is a God of immeasurable grace and mercy. He knows we cannot obey perfectly, and that we must be transformed into the likeness of Christ before we can even begin to recognize what obedience truly looks like. That takes a lot of prayer, time in God's Word, and being surrounded by people of Christ who are continually surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit.

For my part, I value the lesson I learned from this experience: never take a pastor's word as truth simply because he is a pastor, with multiple advanced degrees and a gift for persuasive preaching. I also agree with your statement that the harmful impact of David's message is probably unintentional, owing more to David's age and inexperience with such a large platform.

Glen said...

Thanks to everybody for the discussion. Dara, I had read some of your comments on other sites. Thank you for stopping by here. Steve, no I would not make any recommendation on a Bible study. I will tell you that I am in a Tony Evans study now and I really enjoy it.

Shirley Taylor said...

Hey Glen,
How about reviewing my book Dethroning Male Headship? It was published May 2013. Being a Baptist you will understand what I am saying in this book. Of course, if you are a Male Headship kind of guy, you might not like it. But I can guarantee you that I give far more relevant scripture in my book than Platt does in his series on women. Also, Jesus is a man character in my book. It just appears to me that if anyone really wants to be radical, they should actually look to Jesus and how Jesus brought women into the mix.

Live Life.... to the FULL said...

25Glen,

We started one of his video series this morning at our church. I paid for the accompanying workbook. After the 30 min video I turned my book back in. I don't think I'd be able to sit through 5 more weeks of this.

I am not sure what it was but I didn't have good feelings at all about what I heard. Perhaps the man is solid in his teaching and it is just my personal preference of not liking his style, but I was just turned away by it.

And I am not one to do this (walk away). I've been through Men's Fraternity, and several other series by Matt Chandler and others with some great teaching.

I consider myself a solid conservative. Why did this guy turn me off?

Anyway, thanks for your post. I thought I was also alone.

cindyr said...

Glen and everyone who posted,
I am comforted to see that I am not alone. Our small group is going thru David's video series, and it has been difficult for me for many of the reasons the rest of you point out. Thanks for posting.

cindyr said...

In the videos, when David is preaching and his voice starts to crack (like he is going to cry), does it sound "put on" to anyone else besides me? Just had to say how it comes across to me...

Anonymous said...

Today I received "radical" by D Platt. After reading a part of his book, I just couldn't agree with it and I found your blog which confirmed what I was feeling regarding his book. Thanks for sharing. Sorry English is not my first language and I Iive in Europe.

xkidskaty said...

Thanks so much for your post. My church has just embraced the Platt Movement and everyone is being encouraged to be part of a small group to read the book. I felt so guilty because what is being preached just didn't seem right or Biblical. Now to figure out if it's time to leave my church.

Rileys in Uganda said...

Thanks for a great post. As a non-American working in the developing world on child welfare reform it was interesting reading Radical. My conclusion is that the book is not radical at all. In fact much of the book is extremely conservative in so many ways. Seems like almost every aspect of radical puts the reader into the centre of the universe rather than Christ. Also Platt is so very naive and uninformed about issues to do with children. Some people 'inspired' by Radical end up in Uganda building and supporting orphanages and adoption children who are not adoptable but are trafficked due to weak systems and the amount of money being shoved into the hands of lawyers and orphanages to keep the supply going - Platt adds to the demand. So all in all there is nothing radical about 'radical' and I am glad people are speaking out against it.

Dara Harvey said...

I recently read somewhere that Platt was asked in an interview about people leaving Brook Hills after he began preaching on Radical. His only (printed) response was that more people have joined the church than have left. Hmm, I thought numbers and filling church pews was the least important thing for a church to concern itself with. Just because some people are listening to Platt doesn't make him right.

Dara Harvey said...

Rileys, I agree with your assessment that the focus is on our works and should be on Christ. Christ said "Apart from me you can do nothing." The center of the church needs to always be Christ, not the latest "radical" statement by the latest celebrity pastor.

Anonymous said...

Wow….I'm surprised to see so many with feelings against the teachings of Dr. Platt. I think if you listen to his teachings, you will find them to be rich in the word of God with minimal opinions of his own. It is primarily for this reason that I listen to much of what he preaches via his radical.net website. He drives me to the Word of God like no other pastor I have heard and, while I can see that many would reject the hard teachings he promotes, I would say that is the same response most had to the teachings of Jesus as well. Many Americans have bought into an easy-believism/cultural christianity that has no semblance of following Christ or submitting to God. I applaud Doctor Platt for calling us to die to self and live for Christ.

Dara Harvey said...

Anonymous, your experience with David's teachings is commendable. Many people enjoy his sermons and are growing in Christ, I believe, because of what the Holy Spirit is doing through his preaching, writing, etc.

I think the key here, though, is that not everyone hears David preaching the same thing. For some of us, his preaching borders on promoting legalism. When I heard David preach for 4 and a half years after he became the pastor at Brook Hills (and yes, I actually did listen), the message I heard Sunday after Sunday was "You're not a Christian, you're not saved, you are offensive to God, if you're not (1) going on overseas missions trips every year, (2) downsizing your house (no matter how small it already is), and/or (3) adopting babies from other countries."

Whether all people hear that in David's preaching is immaterial. I heard it, and therefore I left Brook Hills before my walk with Christ became totally replaced by a stumbling, exhausting legalism.

Some supporters of David (I don't necessarily include you in this) opine that David's teachings are controversial, simply because his message is "too hard" for "easy-believers" to accept. That may be true for some people who reject David's message. But it is certainly not true for us all. Different people bring varying perspectives when they listen to any teacher or preacher, and the same message will not be received in the same way by us all.

Anonymous said...

I do think that most of what David teaches is biblical. I definitely understand the reservations. I have just listened to some sermons and I think there are some things that he attacks that is not really necessary to make a big deal about. We live in an us and them society and I do not like additional needles attacks on issues that seem irrelevant to sharing the message of the bible. This is where wisdom comes in. Is this really as a big of a deal as I am making if. Are my premises true or are they built on prejudice? It is not that his teaching of the bible is wrong but I think how he assesses our world we live in today may be seen through his own perspectives. One thing I love about our church is to reach out to people who unchurched sometimes I feel that my church is not deep enough but I love the willingness of the church to meet people where they are at and nurture them to take next steps in getting to know God. It is hard to go to be missionaries if we have not known God in deeply personal ways. Or maybe we go to serve because we want to take the next step in a deeper loving relationship with him and we are connecting with his heart for people. My wife and I are going as missionaries to Kenya Africa. It is where we are at with Jesus. We are trusting him for provision. This is another step of faith and trust in Him. We are not going to earn anything or prove our faith. Our faith has brought us into a real relationship with God where we seek him and recognize his voice. I have learned to share the truth and leave it at that. I get into trouble when I tell others they are wrong. It is almost like I feel someone won't believe me if I don't address what is wrong with their thinking. I think we can share the truth of scripture and leave room for the Holy Spirit to operate. We should never forget that Jesus said he would send the helper and we are not left alone to bring the good news to the nations.

Ed said...

It is so good to see a blog where people can reveal what is really occurring. Having listened to the preaching at Brookhills it is true that this it has become a personality cult. The new member process gives no access to Platt. The staff present acted forced, would not look you in the eye, remained a distant click. He has expressly said that those who go oversees on a "missionary" trip are the only members he is interested in. He has said he wants no input from others or others' experience. He is not at all humble. The cracking voice is a put on, it occurs so frequently. I have seen him down right mean at the slightest hint of disagreement. He is not accessible at all. His ego is one of the most massive one will encounter. He wants people to leave so that his is the only opinion. Those who stay are prideful under his fame. The church location is one of the most wealthy areas of the country. Lastly, how "radical" is it to read a Bible in a year. We all read that many words many, many times over. I read the Bible many times over, because if I read a gospel account, a letter of an apostle, one of the prophets, I read the whole "book". They are all short. They all have a complete message. This will also protect you from falling for those who pick a verse and push their own agenda. I witness every day. I know people around me every day who need God's love. Going oversees for a week is often pious. Some seem to have to control others, which is the opposite of the really radical gospel by which we are specically told not to lord it over others as the nations do. I decided not to sit UNDER a dictator - who also says true believers will be subject to one man in one local location.

Anonymous said...

I am currently reading through this book (I believe I am on chapter 8), and really started to question my own life; the Great Commission is redoubtable, and it does call us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and I have prayed about this, and read a bunch of reviews, and while I think Platt's underlying message that parts of the American Dream (e.g., individualism rather than relying on God) are at odds with God is true, I hadn't, prior to reading posts like this one, thought about how Platt's overly legalistic view of how we should live also require individualism. I don't think the book emphasizes how we should seek to serve God out of love, rather than out of guilt. In all honesty, this book makes me feel guilty. I have not quite reached the end, but ultimately, at the beginning, I loved the book, and now, it is inspiring a ton of guilt. While I think we all should be guilty about our shortcomings, we should feel guilty to God, not to Platt, and repent to God, not to Platt. For the record, I am a Presbyterian who is not yet out of college, so my world experiences are obviously different than some posters here, but I think we all share the scriptural belief that we all have roles in the body of Christ that require devotion to God.

Dara Harvey said...

I found this comment to another article on "radical" Christianity that discusses David Platt, Francis Chan, and others (the link is http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/march/here-come-radicals.html?start=7). I am pasting the comment below since it articulates exactly what I have struggled to say in expressing my concerns about Radical. The author of the comment gave his name as Daniel Jepsen. He says:

First, the emphasis on radical actions as proof of Christianity results in de-sacralizing the everyday.

Second, the greatest sacrifice we can make for God (giving all I have to the poor, giving my body to be burned in martyrdom even) if not done for love, means exactly nothing (I Corinthians 13:1-3). No service, sacrifice, obedience, or offering can have any meaning unless the heart has been transformed and dominated by love. My concern is that a focus on us offering costly gifts to God can easily become just that: a focus on what we are doing instead of what He has done for us. When that happens, we actually love God less (because our eyes are on ourselves, not His glory and mercy). We also love others less, since their need becomes less important to us than our sacrifice.

Third, I believe these speakers do not understand (or at least interact with) how people change. That is, they seem to imply that the primary (or only) only thing needed for lukewarm people to become full disciples is willpower. The discussion centers on getting readers to see that they are not fully committed to the teachings of Jesus, and then encouraging them to become fully committed. There is little discussion about the dynamics of spiritual change, that is, the roadblocks, processes, and means by which a person becomes a fruitful Christian living out a sacrificial lifestyle. In other words, the overwhelming focus is on a call to change, not a roadmap to change.

Baptist1 said...

I was encouraged to do more for God after reading Radical. He does not only support foreign missions in his book. He also gives examples of local work. I do think a lot of Christians are content to come to Sunday worship and think that is their only responsibility. Christ died for us and we as a whole are too selfish to work for Him. Faith without works is dead. I recommend the book.

Glen Dean said...

Guys, I love reading these comments. Great discussion.

Dara Harvey said...

breaking news this hour: David Platt is leaving the pastorate to president the IMB:
http://www.thealabamabaptist.org/breaking-news-detail.php?id_breaking=134

Anonymous said...

Knowing that all of us operate out of our story I tried "Googleing" his story. . . David Platt's father, mother, sisters, brothers...I get nothing and Wikipedia gives me nothing about his upbringing. It would answer our questions as to why he has these legalistic ideologies and what they stem from. I can pretty much guarantee ~ He has a very sad story to tell!!!
My question that hasn't been answered is where does this guy come from; with his "Radical" ideas/thinking? Anybody know??

FrontierTater said...

Thank you so much for your review. You said very well many of the thoughts that I have stumbled in trying to express. My husband and I did this book as a small group study with our then new church a couple of years ago. We were both alarmed at the message of the book (those things you pointed out) but seemed to be the only ones in the group calling these issues out. Now I see that it may be because I too was raised Baptist! (Yes,I was raised with the standard of not believing it just because the pastor said it,but check it against the whole counsel of scripture.)

Katheryn Craig said...

I enjoyed reading Radical which I picked up at the public library. I am especially grateful for being introduced to Operation World. I got it and loved praying through the whole world. The 5 radical steps don't really seem radical, just what ordinary Christians do.

I agree with anonymous though. All I have seen of David's background is his college graduation and what he has done after. I too wonder about his story. If his parents are still alive, if he has siblings, cousins, extended family, where he was raised, if he was raised in one place or moved around a lot. Was he raised in the US or as an expat somewhere (military brat maybe?)How he came to follow Jesus. And, though railing against the "American Dream" how he was able to get a PhD. That takes a lot of money which has to come from somewhere. And to afford all the traveling he talks about, it seems disingenuous.

God First said...

I was always wondering if David Platt was real or not. I live in the Chicago area and was so disappointed in Moody Radio for replacing Alister Beggs with David Platt. The first time I heard his sermon I was so turned off by his tone of voice. He was loud and attacking. The crackling of his voice, which sounded like he was sobbing, was quite ingenuine and staged. The more I research about David Platt the more I become angry at Moody for bringing him on. On top of that, removing Alister Beggs during prime time. His Radical movement is as left and liberal as you can get. One may think that Platt is in your face like JC was with others during his time,but really, Platt is more legalistic than you think. This discussion with you guys has really helped me to confirm my feeling about the teachers that Paul warned us.

Dara said...

I think he is sincere. The problem is, because he feels his calling very strongly, he seems to think everyone is commanded to follow the same path he is. But the more time passes since my experience with Radical, the more convinced I become that this is not the case. The church is a body of believers, with different people serving different functions, all to the glory of God. Unfortunately, lots of people continue to hang on his every word because he challenges the status quo, and in many ways that is very appealing to people, whether that challenge is a valid one or not. It also sells lots of books and associated merchandise. In my opinion, he's become just another celebrity pastor. And if I learned anything from my experience with Platt as my pastor, it's that I want nothing to do with the very concept of celebrities in the church. So I now limit my reading of Christian treatises to authors who have been dead for a few generations or more, as their works have withstood the test of time and the critiques of multiple generations of scholars. I highly doubt Radical will stand that test. But for now, I think we will continue to see Platt generate book after book because he has a large following. His newest release, Counter Culture, is no different from Radical, I'm told. A good friend of mine read it and said all the chapters on social issues were great, but when he got back on the subject of poverty, it was Radical all over again. She was so discouraged in her faith. I will never read another book by Platt again, nor will I willingly hear him preach another sermon.

Dara said...

Some commenters here have asked about Platt's background. Here's what I remember from my time at Brook Hills. He has several siblings and I think he came from a loving home. He was close to his dad, who passed away suddenly from a heart attack about 10 years ago. He and his wife married in college and lived in New Orleans, where he went to seminary, graduated and then immediately became a professor a the same school. His primary jobs seem to have been exclusively academia or preaching. He and his wife were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. After that he was a traveling preacher. He preached as a guest speaker several times at Brook Hills, after our previous pastor retired. He was then asked to become the senior pastor, at the age of 27. He and his wife struggled for several years to have children, but as soon as they adopted their first son from overseas, they conceived their first biological child. It's an interesting story in some ways. I never had the impression that Platt was traumatized or anything, just extremely high-minded, without much understanding of how people think, feel, or grow. My perspective of him, for what it's worth, is that (while at Brook Hills) he was in an ivory tower, a celebrity pastor, without much in the way of people skills unless you belonged to his inner circle. It's a shame, really, because he was so humble when he when he first came to Brook Hills. But once his name got out there and people started thinking he was so right about everything, that humility seemed to disappear. I was thrilled to learn he was leaving Brook Hills, but would have preferred he left to go overseas and practice what he preaches a little more, rather than head up another large institution in a high profile position like IMB President.

Anonymous said...

First of all I have listen to Platt off and on and have read some of his books...BUT WOW the criticism here and of ALL preachers, really? Name some (ANY) on tv w0rth 5 minutes..as for adoptions overseas..I know his church first and foremost helped out a local orphanage before going overseas....and as for a CALL to go overseas...yes its needed more and more...the American church overall is caught up in itself. I listen to him teach revelations and he gave all views and said he could be right or wrong decide for yourself, he says often read the word for yourself dont put your trust in me (Chan says likewise) BUT your criticism already has ppl turning away from him before even giving Platt a listen. now yes that seems like WWJD thing to do. lets throw the baby away with the bathwater...rather have a messenger telling me to be more in love with God and go into all the world (Keith green put it ALL have been called to go (at least a week or 2) few very few have been called to stay home) than the tv messengers love yourself, be content in blessing us four and no more...

Dara said...

Anonymous, your comment is incomprehensible.

If you have a problem with my story, or the stories of hundreds of other people I know personally who left Brook Hills because of our experience with Radical - these are facts, not opinions for you to disagree with or rant against. People are hurting because of their attempts to be Radical, with David as our (now former) pastor at Brook Hills.

Platt, along with too many of his fans, are too quick to paint with too broad a brush about the church in America, most of which you all are not as acquainted with as you seem to think. "The American church overall is caught up in itself" - really? How familiar can you possibly be with "the American church overall?" This sounds too much like the typical accusations David hurls at people through his sermons and books: American Christians are lazy, worshiping our wealth instead of God, we're deluding ourselves if we think we are saved, etc., etc., etc. Coming from a pastor in his position, that message is terrifying, and has landed some people I personally know in counseling, for months, as they struggled with legalism and unbelief, directly as a result of David Platt's message. To the extent it has helped some people, fine - but I have lost count of the number of people who had the opposite of a good experience with Radical. They've seen their walk with Christ utterly derailed into exhaustive works, trying endlessly to prove, if only to themselves, they are really Christians, because of what David Platt says. Some of his accusations may be true for some people in the church in the United States. But the problems he addresses are not an American problem, they are a sin problem. Sin exists everywhere and manifests itself in more ways than you can imagine. If it's not materialism, it's something else somewhere else.

As for us turning anyone away from Platt before they can hear his message, I have no idea what you are talking about. If our stories are discouraging anyone else from getting hurt by these books, then good. But Platt's fans still far outweigh anyone who disagrees with Radical.

Dara said...

I also disagree with your conclusion that going overseas is somehow "needed more and more." What we need is Christ, the Holy Spirit, not a plane ticket.

Alabaster guy said...

Glad I found this blog. As a recovering legalist I really feel bad for those that follow Platt. 3 years ago I probably would have been a follower of Platt as well, but God in His mercy allowed me to tire myself out and finally give up on my self salvation projects (Yes, deep down its a self salvation project). Platts teaching is what people like me like to hear (tickles our ears), if we just give more, do more, and follow these 10 steps God will be pleased and we will find peace. I went on Mission to Peru multiple time, I served at the missions in Downtown Birmingham, and I told everyone in my Sunday school class that they were not fully committed. The problem is most of what I did was out of guilt and shame and I expected others to be just like me. My family really did not want to be around me as my standard was perfection and the law was my weapon. I never really pulled it off and I learned really quick that I, like many others, needed to wear a mask to church to fool people into thinking that I was actually living it out. I was an angry man who had been lead to believe (by some men who meant well) that God was angry at me and never happy unless I was giving it my all. I still go to a Baptist church, but I've had to start listening to some PCA pastors to learn about grace. I had no idea that I was justified and that I was set free. I had never really heard about freedom in Christ with out a bunch of "but"s behind the message. I had never really been told that I now stand before God spotless because of the work of Christ. It's really wonderful news that has helped me to actually start loving Christ more instead of seeing him as a never pleased task master. Christs love for me has started bring me to repentance in some things, but I know that this walk is a long one. I take comfort in knowing that He who began a good work in me will finish it until completion. The truth is the more I focused on my holiness and sin the worse I got. The more I set my eyes on Jesus and see His unconditional love for me, the more I want to be like Him. Please pray for me guys I need it everyday :)

As for Platt, the Baptist church that I attend in Alabaster has started giving the preteens the "Follow Me" study guide. I read through the book and it made me want to cry. Do we really think it's easy believism to trust that a man was born 2,000 years ago to a virgin, claimed to be the Son of God, and then rose from the dead to pay for the sins of unworthy people? I dont think that's easy.

hector baez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

I must have missed the last part in the Bible where Christ said, "On second thought, forget everything I just said. As long as you say you believe in me, you're in." We are all hypocrites and will obviously fall short of the perfect example Christ set for us no matter how hard we try and that is where grace comes in. Platt preaches grace all the time and none of your comments are addressing any specific Biblical inaccuracies in Platts teachings. To me it just sounds like your offended by what the gospel says. The Church at Laodicea was pretty comfortable in the salvation too. I agree legalism isn't the answer but unless you can show one specific problem with his doctrine you are just choosing to throw out the parts of the Bible that you aren't comfortable with. I'm not sure that's the road to be on.

God bless you all!!!

Anonymous said...

David Platt's book Follow Me has caused a rift in our Small Group as some people are latching on to it as the best thing since sliced bread, but others of us see it for what it is.....legalism in a new package. It is so disappointing to see folks falling for legalism, and trying to earn favour when they could be falling in love with Jesus. One of Platt's chapters was on abiding in the vine, which I though would be great as that is the secret to the Christian life, but he didn't seem to get it. He skirted all around the issue, but basically still came at it from the slant of having to work to earn favour. The real message should be..."I can't, but he can!" The biggest disappointment is that in order for people to fall for this, they must be experiencing some very poor teaching. We need more teachers who understand the scriptures to step up to the plate, so that the David Platt's will be exposed and overlooked.

Dara Harvey said...

Paul, in answer to your request for biblical inaccuracies in Radical, this is part of a review I have written on the book. It is long (divided into multiple comments on here), but about as thorough as I can be, and I hope it helps:

This book has gotten a lot of attention in the last five years. It may be a necessary wake-up call for some. But this review is not for people who think Radical is a "must read" for every Christian. If you're one of those people, do not assume I've misunderstood the book, or that I’m not a Christian. This review is meant to, hopefully, encourage anyone else out there who has struggled in their faith because of this book.

My family joined Brook Hills in 2003. We wanted to raise our kids there and grow as Christians together there. When David became our pastor 3 years later, that did not change. At first we were on board with his "radical" message. It wasn't until 4 years later, after listening to David preach Radical week after week, I realized my walk with Christ had was derailed with legalism, judgmentalism, and spiritual exhaustion. It began slowly and subtly, and I wasn't paying attention to what was happening. I will not make that mistake again. I have now spent another 5 years coming to terms with my experience of Radical.

David has many fans who cannot bear to hear any negative critique of this book, and that is a shame. We need to be able to have a constructive discourse in the church about books like this. Too many Christians are suffering in silence because of books like Radical, and that needs to stop. Now.

When David became our pastor in 2006, we dived into what would become known as the Radical Experiment. He pointed to the Great Commission & the Rich Young Ruler as proof that Radical was mandatory for all Christians. So, to the extent we were not living out Radical, we were disobeying God and probably weren't saved. (Part 1, continued at Part 2)

Dara Harvey said...

As part of Radical, my family, and many others, sold possessions, went on mission trips overseas, served tirelessly in homeless shelters, and/or adopted/fostered children. For a closer view of what my family did to be "Radical," see my husband's letter to David on pp. 131-32.

But ultimately, our efforts ended in discouragement and burn-out. Only recently have I reached a place where I no longer struggle to believe God loves me, or that I am saved, whether I am "Radical" enough or not.

Please understand: despite David's sweeping rhetoric, this book is NOT for all Christians. My experience may be an extreme example, but if you read Radical and struggle with it, you are not alone. Where one person struggles with, another may not. 10 different Christians can read this book and reach 10 different conclusions.

Accordingly, do not approach this book and assume Radical is the "correct" Christian life. If it was really that simple, we would not need the Helper Christ promised in John 14:16-17. Radical may be for you, or it may not be. God has made us all different - we have different needs, strengths, callings, struggles. And only God can provide the "one size fits all" truth.

Here are some conclusions I have reached in my journey away from Radical:

(part 2) David uses Scripture to support his arguments, but his application is problematic. Examples:

He says all Christians in America should work to produce "evidence" of our salvation. What does this look like, according to David? Going overseas, downsizing homes/vehicles, giving away possessions, adopting/fostering children, serving in homeless shelters, etc.

Radical has come under fire for promoting salvation by works. David tries to clarify, saying it's not salvation by works, but evidence of salvation. But in practice, what's the difference? According to Radical, if we're not doing what David says, we should question whether we are saved (see pg. 111). (cont'd at part 3)

Dara Harvey said...

(Part 3) That is not the message of the Bible. Paul wrote numerous letters to churches that struggled with sin, but none mentions any of the above as “evidence” of salvation. Gal 5:22-3 gives real evidence of salvation: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." Whether God wants us to get on airplanes, etc., is for Christ to tell each of us - just as he did the Rich Young Ruler (more on this below). Meanwhile, Paul warns against works-driven theology: "If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor 13:3). But in Radical, David harps on good works, and how we're not saved unless we are doing more, going more, giving more. For some of us, that is a recipe for legalism and burn-out.

David also confuses his calling as a command to all believers. He's again using a "one size fits all" theology that is not consistent with biblical teaching. He uses Matthew 28:19 to argue that the Great Commission commands each Christian individually to go "anywhere outside the US." He derides the church for "reducing this command to a calling," as if we are deliberately sidestepping our duty: "The question, therefore, is not 'Can we find God’s will?' The question is 'Will we obey God’s will?' Will we refuse to sit back and wait for some tingly feeling to go down our spines before we rise up and do what we have already been commanded to do?” (cont'd at part 4)

Dara Harvey said...

(part 4) But it's not that simple. Contrary to Radical, making disciples doesn't look the same in each person's life. For one thing, spreading the Gospel (as opposed to simply moving it) must contemplate supporting the church where it exists already. The Holy Spirit leads believers in many ways - see Acts 13: "Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon . . . Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen . . . and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off." Thus, within a generation of Christ's death, it is already a calling from the Holy Spirit. Consider also 1 Cor 12:27-31: "God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" "All members and officers had not the same rank in the church, nor the same endowments: Are all apostles? . . . This were to make the church a monster: all one as if the body were all ear or all eye. Some are fit for one office and employment, and some for another; and the Spirit distributes to every one as he will." (Matthew Henry). This is how the Gospel is spread - some take it elsewhere, and some build it up where it already exists, and many do both. So David is wrong in claiming the only way to obey the Great Commission is to "go to another context." As Christians, our whole lives are ministry. But you wouldn't know that from reading Radical.

David also misapplies the story of the Rich Young Ruler. According to him, this story reveals how materialism has hijacked the church in America. Jesus told this man to sell all his possessions and give to the poor, but that’s not the point of this story. The man said he had kept the Commandments all his life. This reflects his failure to grasp the Ten Commandments and his own sin. Jesus, knowing this, told him to sell all he had and give to the poor. The man went away sad, because he could not even keep the first commandment. But what about Lazarus? Zaccheus? Joseph of Arimathea? Nicodemus? The Gospels contain no account of Jesus telling any of these men to give away their wealth. David seems to overlook this in Radical. He accuses American Christians of manipulating the Gospel to our own ends, yet he seems to be doing the same here.

I also think David is off base in his criticism of the American church. He paints with too broad a brush, jumping to conclusions about people he knows only superficially, if at all. Some megachurches water down the Gospel for its "consumer base." But David considers that the "typical" American church. He is not correct. Most churches in the US are not wealthy. When I was in college, my church met in a movie theater. Bible studies met in people's homes. The members met early on Sundays, set up equipment for worship, and stayed after to break it all down and load it into the pastor's Ford Ranger pickup truck, which he kept parked at his (modest) home. I was baptized in an apartment swimming pool because there was no baptismal. This was not in the developing world, but Gainesville, FL. Now, within a 30-mile radius of our house, probably 50 Christian churches have been planted over the years. Not one of them is 25% the size of Brook Hills. Most churches in the US have far fewer resources than David had at Brook Hills. (cont'd at part 5)

Dara Harvey said...

(part 5 - last part) David speaks in too many extremes in this book - you're either on an airplane to the Third World/serving in homeless shelters/training to foster children, or you are selfishly indulging your materialistic appetites. I don't think that is an accurate depiction of Christians in the US. Most sincere Christians here are not shopping for the latest trend in church entertainment. They are genuinely seeking Christ, usually out of the spotlight. But consider those in the news recently for standing up for their beliefs - court clerks resigning their highly-paid jobs (or going to jail) because they refuse to issue same sex marriage licenses, and bakers who are pressured or fined for refusing to sell wedding cakes to same sex couples. Meanwhile, countless American Christians are struggling in areas that have nothing to do with materialism - people who have buried their children, struggle with addictions, abandonment and abuse, and temptations of every sort. So I find David's accusation in this book simply unfair.

I also disagree with David's criticism of the American Dream. Like many who grew up with the American Dream, David does not seem to understand what it is. He says it is about materialism and self-promotion. This is not correct. The American Dream is about the freedom to choose your own path, without the politics of birthplace or blood ties deciding your opportunities for you. I can choose to pursue health, wealth and prosperity, for example - or live in poverty, etc. The point here is choice. David overlooks this entirely in Radical - which is a shame, because our freedom to worship pursuant to the American Dream should not be taken lightly.

I have also struggled with some apparent hypocrisy on David's part. He claims numbers don't matter in church – merely filling seats should never be the priority for a pastor, and I agree. But when asked about the people who left Brook Hills because of Radical, his only responses was, "More people are here now than when I came here." To my knowledge, in the years since Radical was published, he has not addressed the substantive issues many people have with this book. Meanwhile, I often heard complaints at Brook Hills that David was virtually out of reach to his congregation. Most members had never shaken hands with him or spoken to him. He didn't know their names, but he preached that their homes were too big, spending habits too lavish, etc. Most pastors are too busy serving in the church to enjoy book endorsements, invitations to speak at conferences, or media interviews that often filled David's calendar at Brook Hills – his associate pastors did much of the pastoring. Thus, if the highly-paid, high-profile celebrity pastor had any poster boy, it was David Platt. And despite his calls to a humble, "radical" lifestyle, he didn't leave his comfortable position at Brook Hills until another, higher-profile position was offered him at the IMB.

Finally, David seems to contradict himself in Radical. He says Radical is only an "experiment," which may be unsustainable for more than a year. But the book is grounded on his thesis that this is the "correct" Christian life. So why should we live it out for only a year? He claims the year will change your perspective. It did, for me and countless others, but not in the way he said it would.

So if you read this book and struggle with it, do not despair. Read it with a discerning heart and remember, it is written by a human hand. Go back to the Bible, ask God to show you the truth, and if necessary talk to your pastor or a Christian mentor about your experience/concerns. By all means, do not get swept up in the hype surrounding this book. Be VERY careful with it. (end of review)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a extensive review. My wife and I have been attending an Anabaptist church where the core message was very similar to radical. It has been a very difficult and depressing experience. I even started questioning my faith. I am completing a doctorate in Business and felt constantly judged for using my talents for what was deemed as selfish reasons. The celebrated model was that of a teacher would decided to quit her job to go into ministry. It was very hard to leave as we made some good friends. I, also, have many doubts about what Christianity genuinely says about career, wealth, happiness,... I come from a poor background and worked very hard to get to my current position. I celebrated every successfully accomplished step towards the goal of becoming a good business professor as the sign that God was good and faithful. I was harshly reprimanded by my mentor for viewing success as a sign of blessing. I watched John Piper calling, "Wealth a curse." I will have to go back to the Bible. But my current struggle is to find a teacher whom I would be able to trust.

Glen Dean said...

Anonymous, best of luck to you my friend. Only one Teacher though :)

BCicala said...

Thank you so much to all for your comments! After attending a bible study where the first video in the series, Radical, was presented, I left defeated, even angry . As a life long believer, I questioned everything I have been taught, even the ability to call myself a Christian. If what Dr. Platt posits is accurate, then I am no warrant of the title, Christian, and most definitely not, disciple.

Platt stirs up a hornet's nest and, in my opinion, ends the first chapter with many loose ends, very little hope, and doles out a heap of self loathing. I have never been so disturbed after any Christian bible study, leader's conference, seminar or workshop.

Proverbs 27:17 "as iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another," yet, I am left feeling like a dull knife.

David Platt - reckless or responsible?



Anonymous said...

You know, it's an interesting thing reading through these comments. Many called the book "unbiblical" even though it is saturated in scripture, moreso than many so-called "Christian" books. That aside, what makes us so angry? The more I read the Gospels and Acts, Paul's Letters, the more I see a disconnect with what we call "church". Is it perhaps that which leaves us filling uncomfortable?

1 John was an incredible book for me to read, personally. It challenged me in much the same way as I'm reading some of the comments here. It didn't leave me feeling good. It didn't leave me "certain" of some things, Praise God! Yet, John goes to great lengths in his letter to tell us we can have assurance and peace! We can "know" and not live in fear. Yet, at the same time, he doesn't let us walk in deception either. He gives us a very clear picture of what it means to walk in the light. When I first read Johns epistle, I felt uneasy, uncomfortable and uncertain about many things. Yet, the Holy Spirit worked through that to bring me out of deception and into "blessed assurance". Perhaps, Radical and Platt are difficult for us because they challenge some perspectives and cultural norms that have governed much of what we call "church". I, too, have been to Asia and seen what God is doing there. So, I understand the difficulties of coming home and seeing "church" the same way. It's both powerful and provoking. Believers who have so little, and risk so much, and we get bent out of shape over some trivial things by comparison. It's disheartening, at times.

I hope you'll keep an open mind because the mission at hand, for the global Church, is 3 billion unreached people living in roughly 4000 unique people groups, many who have never heard the gospel. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy and indifference. If you're indifferent to what Jesus lays out for us in Matthew 24, even after being exposed to the truth, then I'd have to say you might want to examine your view of the American dream. I do not believe Platt is anti-American, I believe he would say that if you pursue wealth, may it be so that as many as possible would have a chance to hear the gospel before Jesus returns. Jesus warns about wealth repeatedly, and speaks on it relentlessly for good reason. Our culture, and many Christians, care far more about being wealthy than they do about the lost. If that is true of us, may we have those 1 John moments of clarity that we would not continue in the deception of the desire of riches. It's a call to sacrificial living so that as many as possible can hear the gospel. With our great wealth (wealthiest nation who has ever existed), we should also bear great responsibility. That is in accordance with the gospel, and our actions and attitudes reveal the extent of our understanding of it.

Dara Harvey said...

Anonymous:

You say Radical is "saturated in Scripture." That does not mean it's biblical. Any book can cite to Scripture and still be unbiblical. It's not how much Scripture a book contains, but how the Scripture is used, that matters. David's use of the Great Commission and the Rich Young Ruler alone are questionable, at best.

You speak of 1 John and I am glad you are actually reading and studying the Bible. Many people absorb books like Radical without checking it against the Bible.

As for the American Dream, I believe David vastly misinterprets it in Radical. It is not, as he (and many of his fans) seems to think, about shameless hoarding of wealth or self-promotion. It's about freedom of opportunity. David himself grew up surrounded with the benefits of the American Dream and while God is certainly capable of using him with or without the freedom of the American Dream, I have to wonder if David would be where he is today (multiple post-graduate degrees, former youngest megachurch pastor in history, now president of the IMB before he's even 40 years old), without the freedom of the American Dream. People malign the American Dream as if it's the problem, and it's not. The problem is human sin. We can abuse the American Dream to pursue sinful wants, but that doesn't mean the problem is with the American Dream, any more than we should blame cars for causing car accidents. David is attacking the wrong enemy in Radical. He focuses on the American Dream, when the problem is actually much deeper and more ancient than the American Dream could ever be. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water - the American Dream has paved the way for freedom of worship and opportunity for generations now. It should not be abused with impunity, as I believe David does in Radical.

The last paragraph of your comment is just a re-hash of Radical. I sat through four and a half years of hearing Radical preached every single Sunday and my walk with Christ became wound up with legalism over the very claims you make. It was my own fault for letting it happen, and I will be on guard to make sure it doesn't happen again. Suffice to say, after spending years under David's tutelage with Radical, I was further from God than I've ever been in my life. And I didn't even become a Christian until I was 21 years old. So while yes, there is urgency in sharing the Gospel, we cannot afford to take that burden on ourselves as if the impetus were solely on us. God is the one who creates disciples, not us. I believe David takes the steering wheel out of God's hands in Radical and makes it seem like Christians are responsible for sharing (or failing to share) the Gospel with the unreached. That is dangerous and irresponsible. If you ask why people are angry about this book, it's because people have been hurt by it. I have lost count of the people I know personally in Birmingham who were led astray through Radical, and am speaking out to help others avoid the same problems.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dara Harvey for all of your input. The problem with David Platt's Gospel (and any false teaching) is that it hurts people. I have spend two years filled with guilt and close to depression because of a false teacher. Before that I had been quite successful and married an incredible wife. I was mostly manipulated by a very selective reading of the Bible. I am glad that I able to get out before too much bad was done. I am a bit upset that I allowed people like David Platt to have so much control over my life. I recently joined a Lutheran Church (lcms) and I has helped me. See a Lutheran's response to David Platt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNo_k3VmVc8

False teachers ought to be held accountable. While he might have achieved some results in the short run, David Platt is not a pastor but a political leader hungry for more power. His emphasis on external crisis is to make believers forget their vocation and follow him as sheep.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this review. I am only 3 weeks into the study, and I don`t think I can continue with it. I was having trouble articulating exactly why I felt so uncomfortable until I read many of the comments here. I, too, feel that it is legalistic, heavy-handed, and it presents an incomplete picture of the Jesus that I serve. I found myself feeling really discouraged and would hate to see other people hurt by it as well.

Anonymous said...

I read David's book, and I couldn't disagree more with so many of these responses. Worse, most of the attempts to "critique" the book or call his message "un-Biblical" not only fail to offer evidence of such (quotes, scripture, etc.), but they mis-characterize much of what is actually written. Some of them are downright gossip or slander. I can empathize, to some degree, with the original poster. And I applaud his desire to share his thoughts and experience. I would have appreciated more biblical examples rather than assertions of 'heresy' or 'inexperience'. If you're going to accuse the brethren (something I would warn strongly against), then at least use solid evidence and more than anecdotal stories about feelings and experience. Jesus turned away a lot of 'religious' followers as well, and suspect some on this page would have trouble with His message as well if he were the pastor of their church.

Anonymous said...

I have listened to David Platt on the radio for about two years now. I truly believe God speaks through him. That being said it was disheartening to read the comments at first, but somewhat concerning because I never attended his church and it is sad if truly he was out of reach to his congregation. I was going to write a rebuttal to this blog but rather I will just say this. David's sermons are all biblical. They are based on scripture. Not one comment I've read including this blog post itself, uses scripture to counter the message. That tells me that my heart and discernment are correct and I am hearing God's word through him, and that you are uncomfortable with what the Bible says. Sure, I am questioning if I am doing everything I can to spread the gospel and it is upsetting to think I am not, but I am encouraged that I can do all things through Christ and that if I continually pray and seek his word I will complete his purpose. I would urge anyone reading this blog and criticism to consider the words of David as those not of a man, but from God's word, and if you are angry, upset, uncomfortable about it, what does that say about your faith? Furthermore, what will you do about it?

Anonymous said...

Do not be discouraged. Rather, reevaluate your life, and ask God to help you make the changes you need so you fit this Christian life. Remember, Jesus had many people who said to him personally "I want to follow you" BUT they all had excuses to not give up everything. One man said "First let me go bury my father", another did not want to part with his possessions. Materialism and attachment to comfort and happiness in the world, not Christ, is rampant in America, the western world, and unfortunately the church itself, and we need to reevaluate our lives. Iron sharpens iron but sometimes a dulled blade needs to be put on the grinder and have the edge reestablished. Who then is at fault, the blade for becoming dull or the grinder who, though abrasive and harsh, wishes to restore the blade to its former function?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. David's message (which is Bible based and therefore is God's message) is not comforting - if you're attached to this world and the fleeting comforts it offers. Rather he encourages us to abandon this world and seek Christ. He is our true comfort, our true reward. Anyone who denies this must ask themselves what they are truly denying.

Anonymous said...

An indispensable tension is presented in the Bible, those who try to remove the apparent contradictions end up living their lives at one of two extremes - think prosperity gospel (Joel Osteen) and Anabaptist (Mennonites, Amish, Brethren). On the one hand, the Old Testament is filled with promises of material blessing made to the faithful servant of Christ. On the other, the New Testament shows Christians struggling and suffering. Part of their struggled might be explained by the fact that they were chosen as prophets to spread the Gospel in a most hostile environment. In a healthy environment, faithful christians ought to prosper. The question then becomes what to do with the "excess". I have come to believe that the excessive guilt for not suffering is not only misguided but also misguiding. It leads Christians to burnout. From my own experience, two groups are most susceptible to promoting a message of guilt. 1) Zealous new convert who not knowing better think that they are first to have discovered the same message (Anabaptists discovered long before them) and are not mature enough to understand the concrete future repercussions. 2) Envious hearts who only apply this message of guilt to the lives of others, who they perceived are better off that themselves, they will rarely apply the same excessively critical lens to their own lives.
The balance that I have found is to live well and gradually extend the circle of those whom I can take care of. Don't get me wrong to be Christian means to live under once earning ability and save, but the reason should not be so that one gets to suffer as Christ, but so that one can do the maximum good around oneself. I am the husband of an incredible wife, I would give my life and go through suffering for her. Because I love her, and not so that she might match my suffering.
My time spent in an Anabaptist community was filled with anxiety, always feeling judged for not doing enough. Since leaving I have been mostly thriving, I will soon be a Business professor and have done quite well financially. I intend to publish my first book next year. After a lot of sacrifice, my heart is filled with gratitude for all that God has provided in my life. I am gradually extending the circle of people, I can help. Soon I will be able to, in the same order, afford a decent life for my wife, pay for my kids education, pay for mother's retirement, help my parent's in law financially, pay for my niece's and nephew's education, help church members in need, help neighbours in need, have a bigger impact on the World if my few ventures succeed.
By giving a percentage of my income and investing the rest, I believe that I will, in the long run, give far more to the church than if as Wesley "I made all I could, saved all I could, and gave all that I could".