Herein lies post 4 of my review of David Platt’s Radical.
For the Introduction to my review see here,
For The Really Good Pt. 1 see here.
And for The Really Good Pt. 2 see here.
Having examined what I considered to be the exceptional parts of Platt’s book, this next section of the review will consist of reflections on some of the other positive aspects of Radical.
When reading Radical you come away with the truth that, for Christians, missions is not optional. In the words of John Piper, we can either “go passionately, send passionately, or be disobedient.” The Christian church does not exist for herself. She does not exist for our comfort. She exists to make God’s name great among the nations. And we make his name great by being his hands and feet in the world. For Platt, as a good Southern Baptist, missions is a must. Methodists could learn something from our Southern Baptist friends about this. In fact, if we became as passionate as they are about it, we could probably teach them some things, too (I’ll get to that below under my discussion of Platt’s understanding of the gospel).
In relation to this, Platt rightly recognizes and points out the unnecessary false-dichotomy that many Christians work with: that we must do local missions OR foreign missions, but we can’t do both. In the end, the church that is active at home is a church that is going to want to be active abroad. And the church that’s sitting on her hands at home is a church that’s going to say, “Why should I give my money overseas when there are starving people right here I’m not feeding?” The subject of mission is not an either/or. It’s a both/and. The church is called both to the local community in which God has situated her and she is called to take the name of God throughout the nations. We must do both. When we don’t, we may as well not call ourselves “church.”
Disciple Making cannot be done with a Canned Formula:
One of the things I appreciate about Platt’s book is that he doesn’t lay out a formula or a plan for making disciples. He has no curriculum. He merely calls the church to be obedient where she is. And Platt acknowledges that in many instances this obedience and disciple-making process is filled with ambiguities, messiness, and mistakes. When we try to clean up discipleship and make it shinning and professional (or more often, make it merely educational), we end up with a shallow understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
Indeed, in my experience, it is often those who define holiness by what we don’t do that are the ones who like to make discipleship into a simple, easy formula. After all, the assumption goes, if we can correct behavior, then we’ve created a Christian. Unfortunately for that model, the Jesus model of disciple making had no formula except for living life with people in all their brokenness and seeking to bring about new creation in the midst of chaos. Platt rightly acknowledges the ambiguities of the Jesus model.