Awhile back, I started reading a little book titled Radical. I was just getting into it when Katelyn took an interest in it and I had to hide it from her. Then I forgot where I hid it. Greg recently found it “hiding” on a bookshelf (novel place to find a book, right?) and I picked up where I left off. This review is based on my hazy memory of the half I read at first, and the recent insights and convictions I’ve experienced in finishing it.
As a reminder: I don’t often read nonfiction. It usually doesn’t hold my interest. If I finish reading a work of nonfiction, it’s usually for one of two reasons: it was short, or I thought it was fascinating. I finished Radical for both reasons. It’s only about 200 pages, and yeah, I think that’s short. But the main reason I stuck with it was that I found myself either agreeing with or convicted by Platt’s statements. He points out several areas where he believes we get things wrong in American church culture; areas where our practices tend to ignore or contradict the teachings of the Bible. He does this using Scripture and stories of how real people live out the Bible in their real lives, both in America and around the world. He then proposes the “Radical Experiment,” a year of living a life based on real faith rather than the pursuit of the American Dream.
I loved Platt’s statements about our need to love and thirst for the truth of Scripture. I completely agreed with his explanation of why we should take the Gospel to those who have never heard. I was challenged and convicted by his call to make disciples and care for the poor. I think that in our materialistic, cynical, and (quite honestly) lazy culture, this book could serve as a wake-up call to those who claim to follow Christ. Or, it could be a book that people read, or start reading, and say, “Yeah, what he says is fine, but I’ve heard it all before. I think I’ve read it in another book. Yawn.” I’ve actually heard people say that about this book in particular. That makes me a little sad and a little frustrated, because there is good truth in this book and others like it, that might actually change our lives if we choose to live it out. So the question I was left with is: “Am I willing to make changes in my life based on what I’ve read in this book, or am I just going to say it was a worthwhile read, and leave it at that?” I would rather make those changes, because deep within me, beyond my laziness and cynicism, beats a heart that longs to show others the glory of God, no matter what it takes.
So, if you’re just looking for a good read to chew on and evaluate on an intellectual level, I’m sure there are plenty of more academic books out there for you. But if you know in your heart that you’re living a very surface-level Christian life and you want to discover some ways to go deeper and really live out your faith, pick up this little book, read it all the way through, and most importantly, do what God tells you to through it. Shallow Christians make this world sick. Let’s dare to get a little radical and take back our faith from the American Dream.