Review of Chapter Two – “Radical” by David PlattNovember 9, 2011
Synopsis of the Chapter: Platt returns to another group of Asians in an underground church. His point is to show how they commit themselves to the Bible by listening to it for 12 hours a day over a 3 day period. He uses this scene to show that North American Christians have a limited commitment to God because we don’t want to spend more than an hour and a half in church. He is trying to show how radical commitment affects our time and our loves. In addition, he is contrasting the person who makes a “decision” to follow Christ and the person who lives this out daily in their lives. He mentions that many people will come to the Judgment Day and claim they had a relationship with God, but find out they really did not.
Strong Points of Chapter: After hearing about the way Asian Christians devote themselves to the Word of God, the reader comes away with a sense of their own lack of passion for the Scriptures. Several times a year, I teach at a Youth With a Mission base in Montana where they put on a course called “School of Biblical Studies”. In this course, the students study the Bible, book by book for 8 hours a day (and 4 to 6 hours of homework each night) for up to nine months. I am sure we can find other groups that study it even more. His key strength is pointing out that the common Soteric view of the Gospel (i.e. That we just need to make a decision to follow Christ and that is enough to get into heaven) is inadequate. I completely agree.
Weaker Points of the Chapter: Platt continues to make the mistake of taking verses out of context. Unfortunately, this chapter contains the most egregious of these. He claims that the Book of Habbakuk chapter one builds a case that “God actually does more than hate sin, he hates sinners”. The author is trying to hard to re-cast God and his desire for holiness and his place as Moral Judge of the Universe. God is the judge and He does hate sin. But in no sense does God hate us. This one statement will turn off many people wanting to go further. He also seems to claim later that we really don’t have salvation unless we continue to grow into that faith through works. This is consistent with the other “Lordship” teachers of the past twenty years (typified by the Master’s College and Multnomah grads…though Platt attended other schools than these). He tries to modify this position by claiming that grace will still be extended to those who mess up, but after the harsh rhetoric of the beginning, he makes a less than compelling case for grace. Also, I am starting to get annoyed as he compares “apples and oranges” with people in third-world agrarian societies and urban office workers. Does he really expect that those who work 12 hours a day (counting commutes) in an office are going to come every day to study the Bible for six hours. Even the farmers he mentions in this chapter can’t do that. We should take a few days out of every year to study the Bible intensely, but to even leave the suggestion that this is to be the regular habit of every Christian for the rest of their lives is unrealistic and no one in the Bible lived up to it. Not even Jesus.
What I learned: Lately, I have committed myself to seeing new converts focus on living as healthy as they can and to continue growing every day and not just the first days of their faith.