On a number of occasions, Platt points out that too frequently we take the hard words of Jesus and explain them away, rub off their sharp edges, and make them palatable to modern ears (i.e. the story of Jesus telling the Rich Young Ruler to give away all his possessions). Platt does a good job of criticizing such interpretive moves that make it easier, rather than harder, to be a disciple of Jesus. I find that Calvinsits, often more than Arminians, are willing to embrace these hard words. I can’t really explain why. But in this matter, I wish we were more like the Calvinists.
Holiness is Defined by What We Do, Not By What We Avoid Doing:
Typical of most young pastors and Christians, Platt is fed up with the Christian life being primarily defined in terms of legalistic rules about what we shouldn’t do. When we define the Christian life this way, we reduce holiness and Christian living to avoidance of sin (or what looks like sin) instead of the active pursuit of God. Contrary to this legalistic view of spiritual growth and holiness, Platt rightly maintains that genuine discipleship involves propelling Christians into the world, not the avoidance of the world (105). A Christianity which tries to keep itself pure by avoiding the world or pretending bad things don’t exist is a Christianity that will quickly find itself irrelevant, isolated, and obsolete. Holiness should be defined by what we do in the world and for the world, not by how good a job we do avoiding the world.
Platt Spoke Favorably of John Wesley:
This may not seem like that big of a deal to most people, but Platt is overtly (if you know what you’re looking for) a 5-Point Calvinist. Calvinists are not always fond of speaking well of Arminians, and John Wesley is very much Prince Arminian. Platt says nothing about Wesley’s theology, but on page 128 he tells a wonderful and challenging story of Wesley’s deep and profound passion for making sure that everyone had their basic needs met. Wesley was making, in today’s terms, about $120,000 a year, but he was living as if he was only making about $20,000 so that he could give the rest away to the poor. This was actually a consistent theme through Wesley’s life. He died with mere pocket change in his possession because he had given it all away. I’m deeply appreciative of Platt bringing that information to the fore in his book. It made me proud of my Methodist heritage!