David Platt Gets Radical

Tim George

5 Stars

September 4, 2014

By the time David Platt was 26-years-old, he had earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (A.B.J.) from the University of Georgia, and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.), Master of Theology (Th.M.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  Platt had also served as Assistant Professor of Expository Preaching and Apologetics at the Seminary and briefly as Staff Evangelist at Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans. But when he came to fill the pulpit for a few weeks for the Church at Brookhills in Birmingham, Alabama, there was one glaring empty spot on his resume – he had never pastored a church: not a small church, not a medium-sized church, and certainly not a mega-church in an affluent suburb of one of the wealthiest counties in the Southeast.

Platt had only been asked to fill in for a couple of weeks while the church leadership formulated its plan for a traditional pastor search. Six years later, the people of the Church at Brookhills have known no other leader than the young man God never let leave.
Being young is hardly the end of this amazing story. Several years ago Dr. Platt began to rethink the church and the direction he should be leading those who looked to him as their pastor. That reflection turned into a New York Times Bestseller titled, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. Platt calculates that Christian churches in the U.S. spend $10 billion a year on buildings and own property valued at $230 billion. He says too many churches are acting like big corporations, but Brook Hills is now constantly looking for ways trim its budget. Don’t let the title lead you to confuse what Platt is calling the American church to with what is known as a social gospel. That term is most often associated with left-leaning churches with political socialistic views. Radical has nothing to do with politics (left or right) or a watered down message that cheapens the Gospel. What David Platt is calling Christians to is simply to free themselves of rank materialism so their resources can be used like God wants them to be used.

A promo for the book reads:

As you read Radical, you’ll discover that this is more than just about digesting a book. This is about an idea – an idea that we were created for far more than a nice, comfortable Christian spin on the American dream. An idea that we were created to follow One who demands radical risk and promises radical reward. An idea that David Platt certainly didn’t come up with, or anyone else in contemporary Christianity, for that matter. It’s an idea that was first expressed in the simple yet radical words from Jesus to his disciples when he said: Follow me.

There is much to be gained on a personal level from what David Platt speaks to in Radical. Self-sufficiency should not be just about survival, especially among Christians. Just as the people of The Church at Brookhills are seeking to rebuild community through direct personal involvement, we should see survival as a community issue more than an individual one. Americans as a people need to rediscover another part of the American Dream.  We need more of what my ancestors had when they loaded an ox cart in 1821 in North Carolina and headed out for what was then called the Great Southwest (i.e. New Augusta, Mississippi). None of them would have made it only as individuals. Every person, from the youngest child to the oldest adult, had to do more than their part.  Perhaps what Platt is calling the church to, and what we must do in our current political and economic climate, only seems Radical because we’ve become far too removed from what got us here in the first place.