by Adam Dorsey
Missionary, Church Planter, Pastor—New Life Fellowship & Ferryland Bible Fellowship
St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
May 17, 2010
Now come on…just hang with me for a moment. You don’t know what I am about to say!
In June, 2005, my wife and son and I moved to the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where I was pursuing an MDiv., and training for Navy chaplaincy. That’s when I first met Dr. Platt. Dr. Platt? He was 24 years old then! He had just been named Dean of Chapel, and began preaching through the book of Acts. If any of you have ever heard David Platt preach, you understand that it is a life-altering, faith-rattling event. You do not leave one of his sermons the same as you came.
But why? What is so special about his preaching? Sure, his awesome recitation, by memory, of entire Psalms is a great way to kick off an exposition. But so is Joel Osteen’s bleached canine collection. Yeah, he preaches with the fire of John the Baptist. But so does Joyce Meyer. Why do we love his preaching so? Because he preaches the Word of God—not perfectly, but faithfully. Not effortlessly, but in season, and out of season. Let’s be honest. What it is that we all love about our favorite preachers is that they are faithful to the text. It is not so much what John Piper is saying that makes our hearts sing, it is Dr. Piper’s Spirit-filled proclamation of the Word of Christ. It was not Adrian Rogers’ voice that drove us to repentance, but the voice of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:4-5, 27).
Multnomah recently released a new book written by David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream. Now, this is not intended to be a book review, as my copy of the book is still in the mail (don’t start me on getting mail to this island…). I read chapter one on Monergism’s site last week, and ever since then, I’ve been thinking. First, are you kidding me? It was awesome! It was every bit of David Platt, and more! He nailed it! He nailed me. Of course, true Christian discipleship is denying yourself, and taking up your instrument of torture daily! Yes!, we are hoarding all our money and possessions while billions die on the foreign mission field. No, you cannot just call yourself a Christian. Yes!, we have thrown a big bucket of water on what Jesus said it really costs to follow him. Amen! Amen! Amen!
And the more I thought about what it is that he is saying in this book, the more it dawned on me—this isn’t revolutionary. This isn’t new. This isn’t even David Platt. This is Jesus. This is “so first-century ago.” This is what Jesus told the crowds in Palestine. You can read about it in Luke 14. Jesus already preached this Sermon. It’s right there in Matthew 7:14-23. David Platt is not the first to defend his leadership in a mega church over his defense of Christ’s radical requirements for discipleship. Just check out the Corinthian correspondence (especially 1 Cor 6:9-10).
I absolutely love David Platt. Thank you, Jesus, for raising up this dear brother as an instrument of your grace and truth. I am anxious to get his book. I will read it, and I will give copies to others. But here’s the sad truth. This book should not have had to be written (I didn’t say it shouldn’t have been written; but that it shouldn’t have had to be written.) I am very “pro-book”. But these words are on scrolls that have been collecting dust in the Temple for years now—we just haven’t been reading them. Or, perhaps, preaching them. Or, perhaps, obeying them.
Understood biblically, the word “discipleship” doesn’t need an adjective like “radical.” Following Christ is most purely defined by Christ himself. But, as Dr. Platt points out, the American church has redefined what it means to follow Christ. Desperate times call for desperate terms. And Platt knows he has no claim to originality in this book, which is what makes it such a treasure. It’s just the voice of Christ—backatchya.
So, we should not be reacting to this book as if it were revolutionary, really. In our excitement over what we are being reminded of, and in the heated rush of admiration for a godly young leader, let us remember that it is the Word of Christ that is radically turning our lives and ministries upside-down. I can assure you, David Platt will not be offended.
And by the way, the ultimate compliment to any preacher is that his message is not revolutionary; that it is the same-old, same-old story that Jesus started telling way back when.