1. Pray for the entire world.
2. Read through the entire Word.
3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose.
4. Spend your time in another context.
5. Commit your life to a multiplying community.
Although this experiment is designed to be “radical”, these “baby steps” include practical advice for believers who may be just getting out of the starting blocks in practicing their faith. Platt also encouraged believers to consider cutting back on luxuries or modify vacation plans in order to free up funds to send to gospel-centered ministries that build up local churches. Platt proclaimed that “the war against materialism in our hearts is exactly that: a war. It’s a constant battle to resist the temptation to have more luxuries, to acquire more stuff, and to live more comfortably.”
The idea from the book’s subtitle that we should “[take] back your faith from the American Dream” communicates that the American Dream is a toxic pool to avoid at all costs. In the book, the American Dream brushstroke was painted so broadly and negatively that anyone seeing significant fruit in his labor could be accused of needing rescue from its clutches.
Normally the American Dream means the prosperity that comes when people work hard and use their gifting in a context of a stable, legal environment, respect of private property, have a limited government, etc. and over time excess capital is accumulated. History has proven that environments without these elements tend to produce less wealth than those with them. The capital is accumulated and used to support institutions where a young pastor can earn five degrees, build a building large enough for a church of 4000, provide plenty of extra funding to send the pastor on trips around the world, and to give him enough extra time to write a book. Without the concepts inherent in the American Dream, David Platt would not have been able to write a book advocating that we take our faith back from it.
There is no doubt that many people inside and outside of America are preoccupied with too much or too little money. There are some helpful challenges and correctives in the book. However, let’s not forget it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil. I would suggest that in addition to recommending that believers spend time in another context for one week next year, Platt could do more to acknowledge that during the other 51 weeks people’s labor and influence matter for the kingdom of God. He should recognize and honor the impact on poverty that entrepreneurs and business owners have through employing workers, producing food, or creating the wealth that churches like Brook Hills can collect and send around the world.
Radical introduces some helpful themes to the American church, but if you are interested in reading one book on developing ministry in your church, a much better selection is Ministries of Mercy by Tim Keller.
To see review of David Platt’s “Radical Together” go here.