Ah, to say “Thought Number One” practically demands “Thought Number Two”, no?
Well, not to disappoint, I have a thought, based off Radical once again. Our whole church community is involved with reading and discussing this book. It has gotten the reviews of greatness, importance, etc. from “those who know.” I admit that I find that a bit unsettling in itself, and great reason to take things slow.
So let me start off by saying that I am enjoying the book immensely. Platt is clear, and convincing. His concern seems justified, or even validated. And that concern is that we are replacing the gospel with an American twist, substituting a non-confrontational and non-demanding Jesus who will not call us to do anything that discomforts us. His primary approach so far has been juxtaposing scenes from the life of the church around the world with scenes that many American “church-goers” would likely have experienced. It does make one sit back and think.
At the same time, it is another book that preys upon the American tendency to loathe ourselves. If we can’t actually experience torture and sacrifice, we might as well either a) invent something to feel victimized by or b) make ourselves feel guilty for not being victimized. Is that a little hyperbolic? Well, probably. But no more than Radical at times.
So I find it difficult. Because when asked whether I am enjoying the book, I must invariably say, “Yes.” I am! But does it deserve some hyper-exuberant praise from me? Well, not yet. Yes, it hits home. But it also has all the calling cards of a book that might have been written just to get noticed. It uses the pat phrases and questions them. It makes over-the-top-yet-nuanced-so-it-is-hard-to-argue-with statements meant to illicit response and debate, such as the statement, “And in some sense, God also hates sinners…” (p.29) It questions our knowledge of and assumptions about God’s character.
I’m not saying I have issues with the book. I’m just not comfortable to read it uncritically. I’m already sold on the idea that our infatuation with the American dream runs counter to the gospel. You don’t have to scream it loud for me to hear it.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m only up to chapter 3. Plenty more to read and ponder. I will leave you with the following:
Note the contrast, however, when you diagnose the problem biblically. The modern-day gospel says, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Therefore, follow these steps, and you can be saved.” Meanwhile, the biblical gospel says, “You are an enemy of God, dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less to cause yourself to come to life. Therefore, you are radically dependent on God to do something in your life that you could never do.” (p.32)