Radical is not an original idea. Throughout Christian history authors and preachers have called Christians from their lax ways to a deeper devotion. This is what the reformers were doing, what Bonhoeffer was doing, what the early modern missionaries were doing, what St Francis was doing, what Paul was doing. With each new generation, there is a need to revitalize the faith of our parents to become our own faith. At the same time, there is always a warning bell, that these people may be too radical, too extreme. One other review that I have read a review of Radical accuses him of just that. (See comment below. I missed some of the nuance of her point.)
In the beginning of the book Platt lays down two assumptions that he says we must take on if we are to be real followers of Christ. (These are my paraphrase since this was an audiobook.)
One, do everything Jesus says before we hear it. If we weigh what he says against our beliefs then we will never do what he says because we will start making decisions based on our own comfort.
Two, understand that Jesus is not asking for an intellectual response, but a physical response. It is not good enough to simple say, that is a good idea, if we do not carry out that idea.
The second I wholeheartedly agree with and I think is one of the major issues with the current church in the US. But I am unsure about the first. How can we assent to something we do not know. I will make the assumption that what Platt means is that, once we have put our faith in Christ, we agree to put his will before our own. I can sign on with that, but that is not really what I heard. I also think that part of how we hear from God, is by running our understanding past other trusted believers. Those believers will not be right every time, but it is likely that if several trusted believers believe that we are on the wrong path, that we should proceed with caution. I wholeheartedly believe that if we trust God and follow his lead, he will care for us. But what we need is discernment and a real prayer relationship with God, both of which are the result of time and experience with God, two things that are also very lacking in the US church.
The focus of the book is on really living out the life of a Christian and getting the gospel to those that have not heard. The primary focus on getting the gospel out is international missions. He does not discount local missions, but he thinks that international focus is key to really getting the gospel out.
My main complaint is that theologically Platt and I are very different. Practically, once you get past the theological reasons for why we are in different places, there are very few practical differences. That does not mean that I am really living the radical life that Platt is calling for, only that I don’t really have good reason not to be living that life.
I highly recommend this book, especially for church leaders. Radical has many overlapping ideas with Crazy Love by Francis Chan and The Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani but I think it is better at the practical steps than both of those.
I picked this book up for $2.50 from christianaudio while it was on sale. David Platt narrated the book and did a great job. I enjoyed listening to his passion.
There is also a short version of the book (64 pages) that really is designed as a teaser to get people to the idea of the book. It is mostly just the first two chapters that have been edited. If you do not want to read the whole book the short version is ok, but the full version is not that long. The Radical Question is only $1.59 so it is cheap. But I would get the full version. The real value of the short version might be in study groups or to give away in bulk.