Here is the 6th post in my review of David Platt’s Radical.
Derivative of John Piper:
David Platt should be sued by John Piper for plagiarism. Seriously. There were places in this book where he downright quoted word-for-word things I’ve heard John Piper say or read in one of Piper’s books. I could care less that he didn’t footnote Piper. My main concern here, actually, is that David Platt like so many of the young, restless, and reformed are just copying the ministry and sayings of John Piper and others.
I’m not a fan of the idea that pastors and theologians need to always be coming up with new and fresh things to say. In fact, I hope I never have anything new or fresh to say. But David Platt’s book is simply a repackaging of Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad and other various works. Sometimes it’s a shameless repackaging.
No, Platt doesn’t need to say anything new. But he can at least say it in his own way.
One of the sayings I’ve become very fond of over the last several years is, “Before we say, ‘I disagree,’ we should be able to say, ‘I truly understand.’” Because this is something I feel so strongly about, I feel a lot of frustration when someone misrepresents the position of another person – and, yes, I feel this frustration whether or not I agree with the person being criticized. I want all persons and positions to be fairly represented.
Platt fails to do this on a number of occasions.
The instance that bothered me the most occurred on page 148 in his discussion of Inclusivism (though, he does not use the term). He writes, “Many professing Christians have come to the conclusion that if certain people around the world don’t have the opportunity to hear about Jesus, then this automatically excuses them from God’s condemnation. Such people will go to heaven because, after all, they never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus…but think with me about the logic of this conclusion. It asserts that people will be with God in heaven for all eternity precisely because they never heard of Christ. Their not hearing gives them a pass into heaven.”
The problem with this statement is that no one actually believes this kind of thing. He cites no one. He gives no illustrations. He mentions no names. He made up a straw-man doctrine and then beat the tar out of it.
But what he’s really trying to do is argue against Inclusivism. The problem is, Platt’s description is a terrible misrepresentation of what Inclusivists actually believe. No Inclusivist believes someone will go to heaven (notice, again, the limitation of the gospel to ‘going to heaven’!!!) simply because they never heard of Jesus. Again, no one believes this.
The Inclusivist position, rather, is that some (not all!) people who never heard the name of Jesus will go to heaven based on their positive response to the Holy Spirit, Prevenient Grace, and the revelation of God in creation and conscience. Those who do not respond positively to those things will not be saved.
Platt not only fails to fairly represent what Inclusivists actually believe, but in that failing, he also fails to offer a legitimate, biblical rebuttal.
Unfortunately for most of Platt’s readers, his high powered rhetoric mixed with his appeal to ‘logic’ will be enough to turn them away from any representation of the gospel that differs from Platt’s. This is not to say that Inclusivism is the way to go. But it is to say that Platt’s representation of the gospel is truncated and limited and his rhetoric only serves to seal his readership in that limited understanding instead of offering them an opportunity to consider something outside his little box.