In the preface of his book, “Crazy Love” (published 2008 by David C. Cook), Francis Chan tells this story:
We all know something’s wrong.
At first I thought it was just me. Then I stood before twenty thousand Christian college
students and asked, “How many of you have read the New Testament and wondered if we in
the church are missing it?” When almost every hand went up, I felt comforted. At least
I’m not crazy.”
This story correlates directly with the problem Platt addresses in “Radical.” Making a sweeping generalization, there is something “wrong” with the contemporary church, when compared to the church in the book of Acts (or today’s persecuted Church, for that matter). Trying to compare today’s American Christian church with the New Testament church is like, well, like comparing boxed crème brûlée with the real deal (yes, I just tried a box mix…for the first and last time). The box mix is, at best, an artificial, cardboard-flavored replica of the melt-in-your-mouth creamy rich dessert. Even if they are both served in lovely little ramekins, they aren’t the same.
Dessert comparisons aside, a few Christian thinkers over the decades have commented – and now contemporary believers are beginning to take notice – the American church is in trouble…because (according to Chan, Tozer, Platt, and others) we have lost a correct view of God. The broad “We” have come to see Him as a candy man, or perhaps a supermarket, where we can take what we want to believe and leave the distasteful elements of the Gospel on the shelf. But at best that’s not a Biblical view of God…in fact it may be a very dangerous view, if we blithely live our lives in this fashion and expect to enter His Kingdom.
Platt sums up his view by stating that we have “disconnected God’s blessing from God’s global purpose,” reveling in the blessings of God while forgetting how the blessings are intended to be used. We have been slowly spiraling downward into an “unbiblical, self-saturated Christianity that misses the point of God’s grace.” Which is…? To bring God glory. To see in our lives the same kind of evidence of God’s presence as we see in the disciples’ lives throughout the book of Acts. To shed God’s light on those around us so that they too can know God and follow Him.
Assuming God wants the character and practice of His church to look more like the picture we see in Acts, we need to go back and find where we’ve gone wrong. Thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into this very important truth. Platt has prayerfully given each of us a “dare” to begin rediscovering who God is, and what His will is for our lives. I will get into the dare specifically next time. For now, let me share one online comment (among dozens I’ve read) about whether the ideas in Platt’s book are truly radical or not.
Excuse me? Is salvation a free gift or not? The gospel demands NOTHING! You SHOULD do
good works because of your salvation/faith. This is nothing more than legalism in
disguise. If you think what this guy says is 100% correct then I feel very sorry for
you. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that
God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10.9).” If you don’t do good
works, you won’t (m)any rewards in heaven however.
This man, at least, thinks the book is radical to the point of heresy. There certainly is a nugget of truth in what he said, which is, salvation is free. However he’s forgetting the distinction between salvation and discipleship. Discipleship costs everything (Matt. 7:21, Luke 14:31-33), and Jesus commanded us in the Great Commission (and elsewhere) to BE and to make disciples. Platt’s book is concerned with creating an American church full of disciples that shares in the woes and joys of the global Church, not simply saved individuals. If we are really honest about this, we may conclude with Platt that a group of merely saved individuals – with no spiritual depth beyond the knowledge of their salvation – could end up looking like Platt’s picture of an “unbiblical, self-saturated Christianity that misses the point of God’s grace.”
That’s why God wants disciples. Think about it. Tomorrow, the Radical Experiment.