My Problem with David Platt’s Radical

Like many people in the last year, I have read David Platt’s soul-searching book, Radical. Make no mistake, I was a David Platt fan before being a David Platt fan was cool.  I got the privilege to hear him preach years before his name got real big.  Back in the day, he loved Jesus and was committed to his mission.

Here’s a video preview of his book:

Pretty intense stuff.  The book is even more intense.  He unashamedly calls the American church to wake up from their pursuit of the American Dream and live out the gospel in their daily lives.  Russell Moore’s endorsement is right on: “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…”

My problem with the book is this: David Platt is living this out in the context of an existing Southern Baptist church.

And people are forgetting that.

His book is biblically sound and his church is experiencing major changes, but it’s an existing Southern Baptist church.  He speaks at the Southern Baptist Convention for goodness sakes.  He even is allowed to speak in seminary chapels!  His church is at least 20 years old.  They have programs for their children.  They are a family church.  And that is the greatest thing about it!

What this means for me is any church, regardless of size, denomination, or age can enter into radical obedience.  Platt is leading his congregation to do it while they have functioning facilities.  He is preaching the Word of God and experiencing life change to show that recent church plants are not the only place where God is moving!  New doesn’t necessarily mean godly.  Old doesn’t necessarily mean out of date.  Most guys my age are turning away from existing churches cause you can’t change them.  Platt is proof that is not true.  Faithful biblical teaching and shepherding can change lives.

The American church must turn away from the American dream.  We must also turn away from thinking that our way of doing church is the only way to do it.  Existing churches, stop criticizing church plants for doing things that you aren’t comfortable with.  Church plants, stop criticizing existing churches for doing things that you are tired of.

My problem with David Platt’s Radical is that it means if any church gets serious about the gospel, Kingdom stuff can and will happen.  And that is a good problem to have!  The question is: do you truly want your church to get serious about the gospel?

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.

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8 Comments

  1. Woody Oliver

    “My problem with David Platt’s Radical is that it means if any church gets serious about the gospel, Kingdom stuff can and will happen.” Not sure I understand why that is a problem. Is it a tongue and cheek statement?

    • Definitely tongue and cheek. Its great. I’m just concerned that people think that kind of stuff can’t happen in an existing church.

  2. Adam Langley

    Hey Man, thanks for the post. I looked into some of the history of the Church at Brook Hills, Platt’s church, and they started in 1990 with 30 members and are now at 4,300. 20 years is not a long time for a church to be in existence, but it does give them plenty of time to develop traditions. I heard Lee from Newspring say one time, “We’re only ten years old, but we still have traditions.” So, any church needs to carefully filter traditions through the lens of Mark 7. One question came to my mind, do you think Platt is proof that existing churches can change or is he the exception to the rule of the 70-80% of traditional churches that are plateaued or declining?

    • Sure his church is an exception. While his existing church is succeeding, 70-80% of traditional churches are plateaued or declining.

      But do you know how many church plants fail within their first year? 80%! 80% of church plants fail normally citing how 80% of traditional churches are declining. We have to see the irony here. The stats are the same for both.

      It all comes back to 80% of both know how to draw crowds (whether by lights and bands or cantatas and programs), but only 20% know how to shepherd.

  3. Adam Langley

    Excellent point! It does seem like we only hear of the ultra successful church plants that are lifte up as models for all to follow. As with most things, I imagine that there is a balance to be struck here. Existing churches need to be revitalized while also helping to establish newer congregations capable of reaching different segments of the community. Thanks for the dialogue. Missed you today at Leaders Edge.

  4. dale conner

    Go David! While I think denominationalism is a stumbling block to the cause of Christ and a tesimony to the fractured nature of humans. I most say David has a clarion call unmatched in evangelical circles

  5. This verse was pointed out to me as the key verse on giving of the whole bible.

    New International Version
    Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

    New Living Translation
    You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

    English Standard Version
    Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

    Berean Study Bible
    Each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not out of regret or compulsion. For God loves a cheerful giver.

    Berean Literal Bible
    each as he purposes in the heart, not out of regret or of necessity. For God loves a cheerful giver.

    New American Standard Bible
    Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

    King James Bible
    Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

    I read Radical and it made an impression on me. But in retrospect I think it was a spirit of condemnation. Americans may seem to have more than others but Americans have a lot of extraordinary pressures and responsibilities as well. What is America suppose to go back into the Dark Ages to promote evangelism? No, God could be using America in a multipurpose way and it’s not easy to protect and promote as much technological and social progress as America does. It requires a lot of maintenance.

    1 Cor. 5 says believers judge believers but there is no reason for believers to play the heavy and guilt other believers. For it says right there in 2 Cor. 9;7 to do what you have decided in your own heart and not out of compulsion and guilt tripping people is compulsion.

    The best preaching is setting the example not making people feel bad about themselves. The world already does enough of that. A Christian should be an encourager because faith is suppose to be motivational not a guilt trip. No wonder Christianity is getting slammed so hard for materialism by unbelievers. Because of the lack of discernment and mixed materialistic messages in the church today and on television.

    Where did God say the United States of America is responsible for the whole world? It’s not. Jesus already saved the whole world and Christians all over the world are just delivering the message.
    .
    God is in control. He can still save this whole world whether anyone gives a dime or not. But He does seem to like a response and that is a cheerful one.

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