Book Review: “The Radical Question / A Radical Idea” by David Platt
Platt, David. The Radical Question / A Radical Idea. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2012. 112 pps. Hardcover, $9.99.
David Platt follows up his best-selling Radical with this booklet that actually contains two publications, The Radical Question and A Radical Idea. These publications are very small, not much more than pamphlets. Each is about 50 pages, although the font is large and the pages are approx. 5′ x 7′. There are no chapter divisions, and none are needed as each half of this booklet is about the length of a single chapter in a standard size book.
The Radical Question asks the reader, “What is Jesus Worth to Us?” (10). The follow 40 pages are spent discussing the excesses of Western Christianity and the want in Christian communities in the rest of the world. The “cost of non-discipleship” is a repeated theme, discussing how we spend more on the individualistic, westernized “American dream” than we do on being faithful and obedient followers of Christ.
A Radical Idea can be summed up in one sentence: “How can we in the church best unleash the people of God in the spirit of God with the word of God for the glory of God in the world?” (63). Platt goes on to discuss how the American church has focused so much on extravagant church buildings and well-paid professionals to run those buildings in order for the general people in the church to remain complacent. While he does not go so far as to condemn the paid pastor position, he makes it very clear that without every individual in the church stepping up in order to make disciples, the mission of God will be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish.
I agree with Platt on many points. I have experienced many people in churches that are there for an hour on Sunday and are willing to make no further commitment. Unless we are all willing to go and make disciples, instead of leaving it to those who are ordained or are staff members, we have not committed ourselves to Christ and his Kingdom. The book itself, while making clear these good points, is lacking in answers. The majority of the content points out the issues and problems in the American church, but does not come out and clearly attempt to answer these problems other than “we all need to go and make disciples.” An example was given about how a church stopped leasing warehouse space, met in the parking lot outside, and used the money they had been spending on the space to help the poor. This is an incredible example of a church making a selfless decision to further the Kingdom of God, but it is not feasible for all churches in all places. My current church has been meeting in the same building since 1883, so leaving it would incur additional cost of leasing or buying a new space (there are not parking lots nearby that 250 people can fit into every Sunday).
I recommend this book, as it is a quick read (one afternoon at the most), and it brings up some challenging questions. It would be useful as a discussion starter for a small group or church council that wanted to get together and brainstorm ways that they might engage in Kingdom Living.
Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and balanced review.