I know that I said I would be giving a book review every week, but so far that hasn’t come to fruition. So here’s me getting on the ball: my take on the popular book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt.
Platt’s writing style revives the pioneer-adventurist in all of us, projecting the radical nature of Jesus Christ and what it means to truly follow him. There are two particular subjects that jumped out at me while reading this book. The first is the powerful influence that culture plays on faith. Culture, as it ebbs and flows, sets the tone of how we think about the world and how we typically express ourselves. There’s no way to remove culture from faith. But just because it’s there doesn’t mean it’s always good. The American Dream, says Platt, has done the Christian faith a disservice in its pursuit for personal happiness, wealth, and success. Not that those things are inherently bad, but it appears that the Christian faith has come to be seen by many as a crutch for personal gain; rather than the simple allegiance to an all-powerful and loving God that desires relationship.
The second theme that emerged for me was how the church ought to “market” themselves. Relevancy has been preached over the last couple decades because the church’s perception of being out of touch and boring. This has led to “seeker-centered” worship services and other ventures to reach people outside the walls of the church. But in the effort to reach people where they are at, it’s been neglected that the point of the gospel is to change and conform people more and more into a reflection of Christ. Christianity gets watered down. It’s important to point out that Christianity has always grown the most and the fastest when it is counter-cultural, or prophetic, in its context. In my view, following Christ will ultimately counter naturally human tendencies and therefore contain elements over and against human culture. “Loving thy enemies,” for example, will never become the latest fad. So Platt is not saying that the Western Church has gone into bad marketing strategies, it has just veered of its original and intended path. If it were, it would look more like something different and less like the culture it sits in.