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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Radical: Chapter Two

For those of you who are joining me, today I’m continuing the online discussion of Radical:  Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream.

First, a couple logistical points.  A few of you have asked me where and how to join the book club.  Just click here, and you’ll find Marla Taviano’s website and instructions.

Second, my current plan is to post every Tuesday, in schedule with the online book club.  The next month looks pretty hectic, so if I skip a week I’ll just pick up the following week.

Now, on to Chapter Two.

David Platt lays it on pretty thick in this chapter.  (Yeah, even a bit too thick for me.)

But I’ll start with the positive.  Chapter Two makes the point that God doesn’t need us, we need him.  I couldn’t agree more.

Platt explains that Christians on the other side of the world are risking their lives to meet in secret, simply because they hunger and thirst for God.  Yet the American church is more interested in programs, comfortable seats, and cool music.  In Platt’s words, many of us have reduced the costly sacrifice of Jesus to a sales pitch.  “Our attempt to reduce this gospel to a shrink-wrapped presentation that persuades someone to say to pray the right things back to us no longer seems appropriate.”  (p. 37)

Again, I couldn’t agree more.

Where Platt and I differ is in his statement that God “hates” sinners.  (p. 29)  First and foremost, I’m pretty sure I’m a sinner.  And I’m also pretty sure God doesn’t hate me.

According to John 3:16, God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son.  The love came first.  And according to Romans 5:8, God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

Call me optimistic, but I still believe that God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life.  I may be taking Platt too literally, but I’m a lawyer, remember?  We tend to get hung up on words. 

I also don’t think it’s a bad thing for Christians to be culturally relevant.  In fact, the Christian subculture often gets in the way of the gospel.  Many Americans walk away from church because they think, I’ve got to become some weirdo in order to be accepted here.  I’ve got to act a certain way, dress a certain way, and think a certain way. 

My fear is that folks who are looking for Jesus might just miss him in church. 

I do agree with Platt’s conclusion that the gospel is costly – it’s a gospel that calls us to “turn from our sin, to take up our cross, to dies to ourselves….” (p. 39)  It’s a gospel I fail to live out every day.  It’s a gospel that motivates me to keep at it – because of grace, not guilt!

Yes, Platt lays it on pretty thick in Chapter 2.  But he has my attention.

Does he have yours?


T. Anne said...

I have the condensed version of the book from the publisher. A pamphlet? Sounds like this is a great book that pushes us outside of our comfort zone. When I write my novels I push myself outside of my pride and for certain outside of my comfort zone trying to paint word pictures of Christ to light up the world with.

I look forward to these posts Susan! Did you go to ACFW this past weekend?

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Scriptures that God hates sinners apply to believers. We have been justified through Christ, so God sees Christ and his righteous when he looks on us. I think those Scriptures apply to those who haven't been reconciled to God.

Charming's Mama said...

I have to agree with you, I don't think God "hates" sinners, what he hates is sin. And we need to understand that vital difference or how else can we come seeking forgiveness. It's intimidating enough to think of approaching the throne of a loving but just God without the thought that he "hates" you.

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

I agree with the commenter above- God hates sin not the sinner. However, He is a holy God so before Jesus' death on the cross, He could not look upon the sinner without seeing the sin {hence the need for atoning sacrifices, etc}. When you believe in the power of the ultimate Sacrifice, God sees you and loves you, able to look past sin and see the heart. Hope that makes sense.

Susan DiMickele said...

Ladies, as always, thanks for your insightful comments. You have me thinking!

jennifergriffin said...

Re-read page 29. This even uses the quote a few have suggested that God hates sin and not sinners. Fourteen times in the first fifty Psalms we see similar descriptions of God's hatred towards sinners, etc. Many other passages as well.

Also, in the scriptures you listed...even in John in the greek means the elect. Many have read that verse and thought it meant everyone. I didn't know it until I studied it further.

So, your anon commenter was right on target!

Marla Taviano said...

"My fear is that folks who are looking for Jesus might just miss him in church."

I get this. And I really, really want to make sure that folks looking for Jesus don't miss him when they're around ME.

Thanks so much, Susan! said...

Okay, I confess that I am not reading this book, and based on the sounds of chapter 2, probably never will crack it open ever. But I've read your captivating summary, so am I allowed to chime in anyway?

When you started talking about the soft American Christians, compared to those risking their lives in other countries, my first reaction was like yours - this is a cultural relevance thing. We can't help that we were born into 21st century American culture. There's a certain amount that is just built into becoming relevant to our neighbors. Not to dminish what Christians go through in other cultures, but I have trouble make an apples-to-apples comparison.

And don't get me started on "God hates sinners." Ugh. I tend to shut down when I hear "hate" and "God" in the same sentence.

Thanks for the review!

Benton, AR said...

Psalms 5:5 You hate all who do wrong.
Thats more than David's opinion