Radical Together: Challenging Words for the Church

[Editor's Note: This post is part of a conversation on the new book, Radical Together, by David Platt.  Visit the Radical Together Book Club at Patheos here.]

Serious pursuants of God or spirituality in any form must never forget that we live in what may be the most spiritually dangerous culture in history. The potent brew mix includes materialism, an addiction to convenience and comfort, emotions and feeling driving us through life instead of real thinking, virulent narcissism and a dumbing down of the entire culture as expressed through the shallow preoccupation with celebrity culture, cheap fame and overexposure through electronic media in all forms. We become consumers of books, CD’s, videos, downloads. All these “life-changing” things  end up being just another media unit sold, another chip. Homogenized to a puree in the whirl of frantic schedules and poured up inside the mile high walls of the American navel, they all taste the same and we’re too busy groping for the mouse to click up the next online seminar to notice.

David Platt, in Radical Together, writes more than a sequel to his best selling book Radical. He writes as a pastor in the trenches of a rather large church in a very churchy subculture. He didn’t start this church, as many innovative leaders do, but led it through some hard changes. He speaks with genuine humility and strikes one as somebody we would enjoy eating hummus with. But he reaches out from every page to poke me on the sternum – and I didn’t like that. My self-centeredness got power sanded at every turn and the grinder had six different grades of grit.

First, every church tradition, habit, favorite program and pet project must be “put on the table” to see if all the things we like about church really might be blocking what God really wants to do. And Platt doesn’t delegate this to a study group. He suggests that God Himself waits to tell us.

David Platt goes on to say that we have misunderstood the Gospel. Understand that he speaks largely within the evangelical camp. Selling this to evangelicals is like telling Dairy Queen that they don’t understand ice cream. He presses the case that this thing called salvation does not give us license to put in once a week appearances in a pew for forty or fifty years then go to heaven where we eat fried chicken forever with Vestal Goodman with nobody clogging their arteries. Neither does it provide the club we bash our own heads in with because, no matter how hard we work or how much we do, we aren’t doing enough for God.

Platt next uncorks a nasty secret; that is, people who say they believe the Bible don’t always really believe it. I just bought Bibles for high school graduation gifts. Both were bound in gorgeous leather with names beautifully engraved. They should be plastered with large red hazardous material stickers. The sheer power of Scripture to engage, transform and bring us to awe has eroded among us. We “punch it up” to make it relevant, dull its edges by contemporary interpretations appropriate for our time, bend and twist a.k.a. Circus Soleil to make Scripture fit our beliefs, politics, etc. And we strike subliminal nonverbal contracts agreeing not to make each other feel guilty for doing these things. His telling of Secret Church nights at his place will either evoke something deep inside or make you close the book.

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