A few days ago I was talking to a friend about how much the American Dream was pounded into my mind as a child and teenager. It impacted how I was educated in school and gave me a reason to do the hard work necessary in achieving said dream. It may be helpful to define what the American Dream actually is by way of the originator of the idea, James Adams. He said this in 1931:
"...life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement...It sounds good, but it is almost directly opposed to biblical Christianity.
This brings us to the the new book Radical by David Platt. David is a pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama which has roughly 4,000 members. The book is interesting because the author is a mega church pastor, but he is not writing a book about how to be "radical" in gaining new members. He is not throwing out "radical" pastoral ideas. Here is David's reason for writing this book:
"I am on a journey. But I am convinced it is not just a journey for pastors...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.(p.3)This book is a pastor's careful attempt at revealing some of the errors in the American Church and reclaiming the church as was laid out in Scripture.
If I were to recommend this book to a certain group of people that I think would be affected the most, it would easily be Christians in the United States. I am not saying it wouldn't be helpful to the universal church, but as I mentioned above, this is really focused on issues here in America and how our desire to have the perfect family, job, etc has actually blinded us to the reality of the gospel. It also asks difficult questions for those of us who would align ourselves with Christ but are really not doing much to build His kingdom. However, the author doesn't ask us to be "radical" by doing new things and being relevant, but by being faithful in the way the church started 2,000 years ago based on Jesus' teaching to "Go and make disciples..."
At 9 chapters, this books is short but is filled to the brim with useful material. The stories David shares concerning letters he has received from church members or conversations he has had with church leaders in third world countries are heart-wrenching, encouraging, and even shocking. I would share some of my favorites but there are just too many to write in this already too long review. Needless to say, this book is full of moving quotes that you will most likely meditate on for minutes, hours, or even days.
So is it worth it to buy this and read it? Yes. Absolutely yes. In fact, I thought many times while reading, "I need to get this book into people's hands!" The things written in this book, again, are not new. I have heard them before, but that is not a bad thing. This book will take you from church critique to self critique and ultimately, to wanting to lose yourself for the sake of Christ. I have much to think about, and I am thankful that I read this book.
Read the first chapter for free here.
Grab your copy here.
(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. Thanks WaterBrook!)