Key Teaching in this Chapter: Platt asserts that most Christians are either intellectual or practical Universalists (Sidenote: A universalist believes everyone will go to heaven). This chapter is designed to show the reader that Universalism is not a biblical position to live by.
Strong Points in this Chapter: Taking the reader on a whirlwind tour through the Book of Romans, Platt stops at significant places to point out why we need a Savior and why many people will not achieve heaven. He notes that all people have a knowledge of God, that all have rejected God, that all are guilty before God and will be punished. He also shows how the death of Jesus pays the penalty for sin and gives us a chance of heaven. This is a good Gospel presentation, though it is primarily intended to show the believer one last point: That people can really only trust in God if someone preaches. And we cannot preach unless we go to every nation with the Good news about God. If we really believe people are lost, we will be “radical” in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This chapter lays out the case for missions, evangelism and the proclamation of the Gospel very clearly.
Weaker Points of the Chapter: Though this is a very straight-forward teaching on missions and the worldwide proclamation of the Gospel, it still has some weak spots. I do like his description of practical Universalism. I am not sure you can apply it as widely as he does. Just because a person does not personally preach the Gospel to a tribe in Irian Jaya does that make them a Practical Universalist? As every preaching missionary reminds us, the support and sending of the church, giving of financial support and praying for success and protection for the missionaries are just as important as the preaching is. Like an extravert, Platt continues to emphasize radical living in terms of major steps of action – like preaching.
Also, I do not agree with his assessment that we are doomed because we reject Christ. People are doomed because of rebellion and sin. If people are doomed because they reject Christ, then people are not doomed if they haven’t heard of Christ. In addition, Platt does not seem to wrestle with the harder issues of hell and heaven. (Or at least if he does, he doesn’t mention the wrestling match). As the old Evangelist, George Whitefield says “No one should teach on heaven and hell without tears.” This chapter seems to have all the zeal with few of the tears. I guarantee you that Platt feels deeply about the lost condition of man (his actions show that). He needs to communicate that with more emotional investment than just a bible study through Romans.
My Personal Takeaway from this Chapter: Every time I read anything about missions and the needs of the lost, I am purified in my resolve. This chapter had a personal impact on me to force me into seeing the lost condition of man all over again.