Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

by David Platt

Paperback, 2010




It's easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily...BUT WHO DO YOU KNOW WHO LIVES LIKE THAT? DO YOU? In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple--then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a "successful" suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus. Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment --a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.… (more)


Multnomah (2010), Edition: 1, 240 pages


(304 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member thornton37814
This is a challenging book for Christians, not only because the author asks readers to make a one-year commitment to enact the principles set forth in the book, but because he's asking them to get out of their comfort zones. I really cannot find fault with the principles the author expounds. They
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are well-documented by Scripture references. The one aspect of the book with which I took issue is the conversational tone in which it was written. Too many Christian books today are "dumbing down" the English language and thus perpetuating the notion that Christians have a lower intellect than critics of our faith. It's a book about our priorities. Are we truly concerned for the lost, or are we more concerned for ourselves in this culture of consumerism? It is certainly a thought-provoking book that would make wonderful group study and discussion among Christians.
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LibraryThing member zechristof
Radical by David Platt is an invitation to followers of Jesus to commit themselves to radical discipleship and obedience. Jesus gave a number of commands to those who would follow Him. He promised power and insight to those who would obey, and He based His call for obedience on our love for Him.
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Furthermore, Jesus founded the church -- that is, the universal body of believers and followers of Jesus -- and He gave His church some simple but firm instructions. The simplest and firmest is what we call the Great Commission, expressed most fully perhaps in Matthew 28:18-20. This command from Jesus to His disciples is the command to make disciples of people from all people groups, teaching them obedience to the commands of Jesus and leading them into the public identification with Jesus in the ordinance we call baptism.

Platt unpacks the invitation by Jesus for this radical discipleship by examining his own life and the process he and his wife have followed to throw off the encumbrance of non-biblical, anti-obedience cultural practices common to Americans, both the churched and the unchurched. No sugar-coating for Platt, but rather a blazingly clear torch to illumine the paths of those who would also walk in obedience to Jesus even as Americans. Do you want to simplify your life? Platt and his wife discovered that in order to be obedient to Jesus, they HAD to simplify their lives. Do you want to experience unspeakable joy in your day-to-day walk? There really is no alternative from radical discipleship and obedience to the source of joy.

If you are an atheist, you should read this book and compare your life to David Platt's life. If you are an agnostic, discover in this book the personal value to you of getting off the bench and embracing the truth. If you are a follower of Jesus, go quickly to your nearest bookstore and buy this book. THen get ready to change your life.
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LibraryThing member ebnelson
Essentially, semi-Pelagianism on steroids, so if you define the purpose of Gospel as the divine reality meant to convict the church and spur it on to good work through guilt-inducing commands, this is your book. If you, however, believe Gal 5:1, avoid this book.

Platt takes his much-needed and
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refreshing Evangelical social critique and instead of using it to inspire Christians to work for the common good (1 Cor 12:7), he uses it as a truly effective hammer of Law. Guilt reigns as the author details how the American church has lost sight of the Gospel and in some sense become an organization antithetical to the bloody cross. He rightly calls the church back to its roots: radical service to the poor and a mission to all nations. The author, however, seems unable to do so without making readers second-guess own their fruits and validity of their faith claims.

Ultimately, without any room for a Christian brotherhood containing any who are broken in ways he is not, Platt fills his book with speculative exegesis that based on assumptions he brings to the table.

The book works well for Christians who prioritize Matt 7:16-23 over Eph 2:8-9, giving the Arminian reader many more imperatives for their arsenal, and therefore, an even higher standard to 1) be convicted of, and 2) judge others by. No one in the book hears the plight of the poor and believes they’re truly free to ignore them. Instead, every example contains someone who wrestles with whether to be faithful or disobedient, ultimately motivated not by love but by obligation, obedience, and guilt. Sadly, the book does a disservice to the poor since Platt never calls people to help the poor for the sake of the poor. Rather, Platt's logic usually goes
1. There are many poor with desparate needs.
2. Christians are called to help the poor.
3. Are you helping the poor?
4. Maybe your lack of helping the poor is a sign of your spiritual emptiness.
Although I agree with Platt's conclusions, since he always presents service thusly, the reader motivated by his writing is often not motivated out of love but rather out of a sense of duty and a desire for evidence of the Spirit in their life. He always brings in the issue of personal piety to confuse people's motives, undercutting the even more central command to love.

Finally, and ironically, his critique of the American Dream is lightweight. Sanitized for the American Christian, Platt never prods deep enough to ask questions that get to the real heart of consumerism, which is sad.
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LibraryThing member TylerHartford
When I first received this book, I thought, great, here’s a super successful pastor – young and energetic – and a growing congregation – numbering in the thousands, and he writes a book on the radical upside-down nature of the Kingdom of God. Thankfully he covers that base in the first few
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pages in a good way.

It is clear what has shaped his views has been the tremendous opportunities to travel and to study at such a young age, combined with an ability to retain knowledge and apply it in creative ways. The challenge he offers though, is hardly creative. It is one year of 1. praying for the world 2. reading the Bible, 3. giving your money, 4. spending time in another context, and 5. commit yourself to a multiplying community.

Nothing in the list he shares is any different than what most Baptist churches teach. Okay, maybe not so much 4 and 5. But the framework is quite familiar to any life long Christian. You have to ask though, is this such a bad thing? Is it okay to have a reaffirmation of the “basics” of discipleship?

The stories, the short format, the easy chapter divisions make this a quick read, and a nice book to share with people you might be discipling. If you are a minister, there isn’t much new here for you – except maybe a challenge to speak more openly on these points, and to push for more contextual experiences and numerical/spiritual growth (depends how you interpret “multiply” in your community.)
Overall I have to say it's a solid book.
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LibraryThing member seizethebook
Radical by David Platt was exactly that: radical. I was challenged and inspired by this book. The author has made some great observations of our society and gives the Christian reader suggestions (based on commands from God) on what we can do to ensure we aren't "conformed to this world" (Romans
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David Platt believes that there are many professing Christians who "have in many areas blindly and unknowingly embraced values and ideas that are common in our culture but are antithetical to the gospel (Jesus) taught." He goes on to say: "Here we stand amid an American dream dominated by self-advancement, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency, by individualism, materialism, and universalism. Yet I want to show you our desperate need to revisit the words of Jesus, to listen to them, to believe them, and to obey them. We need to return with urgency to a biblical gospel, because the cost of not doing so is great for our lives, our families, our churches, and the world around us."

In Chapter Two, the author does a great job of describing the gospel, then he goes on to explain what he sees as the problem in our churches today:

"The dangerous assumption we unkowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset is our own ability. The American dream prizes what people can accomplish when they believe in themselves and trust in themselves, and we are drawn toward such thinking. But the gospel has different priorities. The gospel beckons us to die to ourselves and to believe in God and to trust in his power."

"While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God."

One illustration that I will not soon forget is about the time the author was reading a "Christian news publication" and noticed two headlines next to each other. One pronounced the celebration of a new $23 million building for a church. The article beneath described the church's new sanctuary which consisted of marble, stained glass, etc. The other headline was atop a much smaller article. It proclaimed that "Baptist Relief Helps Sudanese Refugees." Nothing wrong with that, except the article stated that 350,000 Sudanese refugees were dying of malnutrition, and "Baptists have raised $5,000 to send to refugees in western Sudan." I almost cried when I read that.

Next, Mr. Platt explains in detail what he sees as the solution to the problem: obey God in reaching the world for Christ with the gospel. He suggests we consider the words of Jesus to the rich young ruler to go and sell everything he had and follow Christ. What "things" do we need to give up in order to follow Jesus? "What luxuries does God intend for my family and me to savor, and what luxuries does God invite us to sacrifice?" Then, there is the challenge to go to those who need to hear the gospel.

In the last chapter of the book, the author sums up all he says by suggesting the following:

"I dare you over the next year to:

1. pray for the entire world;
2. read through the entire Word;
3. sacrifice your money for a specific purpose;
4. spend you time in another context;
5. commit your life to a multiplying community."

I gained a lot by reading this book. I will be going through it again and praying to see what the Lord will have me do in these areas. Here is one more quote (my favorite from the book):

"Radical obedience to Christ is not easy; it is dangerous. It is not smooth sailing aboard a luxury liner; it is sacrificial duty aboard a troop carrier. It's not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all thes things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us."

If you profess Jesus as your savior, you should read this book. But remember, it is RADICAL, and it may change your thinking and how you live your life!
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LibraryThing member AMCole
Platt's book is a good book. He says nothing that hasn't already been said before by the likes of Piper and Ron Syder, yet the book's message needs to be proclaimed over and over in different ways to Christians who have imbibed materialism from their infancy. The primary benefits of the book come
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from the fact that this is a young pastor shepherding a mega-church away from a mindset that pervades most mega churches, that he issues a clear call based in Scripture and enflamed by his first-hand knowledge of life in foreign countries, and that he gives clear examples of how radically many in his church are living as a result of the truths he is presenting in the book.

I was personally challenged again by the call to choose self-sacrifice and heavenly living over the siren call of this world's selfish mindset. Platt reminded me of the subtle way that materialism creeps into my life and the constant threat it poses to a selfless, others-focused life.

I am grateful that Platt continually submitted his plea for renouncing the American Dream to God's plan for redeeming a people for himself. By doing so, Platt evaded the temptation to fall into humanistic socialism and provided us with a call to live like Christians in a world that desperately needs Christ.
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LibraryThing member jaredbyas
It is rare to find an author that is actually critiquing his current situation. This is one of the reasons David Platt’s new book, Radical, is so intriguing. He is a mega-church pastor in Alabama and writes a book with the subtitle: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream. One of the major
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strengths and weaknesses of this book is that it is borne out of transition. It is the written account of an inner struggle that has not only happened in the past but is still in its final stages. The strength of this is that passion and drive oozing from every page. There is no academic reflection on the sociology of the church or objective study on the state of the church. There is instead a personal account of a man wrestling with the gospel in his own context. The weakness of this is that the book can at times seem redundant, unorganized, and lacking in depth. At just the point where I thought he should go into the heart of the matter he moves on to another topic, as though his passion takes him the direction of a “Oh, and another thing!” approach. However, the thesis of this book is very important and for that I gladly recommend it and applaud Platt for having the courage to tackle it in the heart of Americanized Christianity.
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LibraryThing member WesleyRoyII
David Platt has written a book that is long overdue and much needed today. The title is enough to send many who want the comfortable "me-first Christianity" that fills the American landscape and bookstores today running. The title is, however, a breath of refreshing air to those who have had enough
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of the status quo.

This book does something many books do not. It challenges the person who says they are a Christian on every level. We are challenged to examine what we call Christianity today in the brilliant light of Scripture. We are challenged to separate Christianity, and ourselves, from culture unto Christ. We are challenged to live out the simple precepts of the Bible without making excuses and justifying lives that run completely counter to the teachings of Christ.

This is a book has the potential to rescue Christianity from America and restore it to the world. This book has the potential to bringing seeping change to the landscape of American Christendom as people move from being "culturally Christians" to Conversion through Christ and commitment to the cause of Christ.

Remarkable book. David Platt leaves any Christian concerned for pleasing God and shepherding other Believers asking, "What have I done with the Gospel?" and "What do I really know about being a Christian?" As the answer, "Not Enough" keeps resounding in our ears I trust that we will be driven to God and the word of God and the glory of God to all nations to change that answer.

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LibraryThing member BookWallah
Most people will hate this book. “Radical” is a challenging call for Christians to live simpler lives honoring the radical claims of Christ. Not for the faint hearted, this book pushes you to stretch beyond what you are comfortable with culturally. Personal stories from Platt’s mission work
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in Asia and pastoring a mega church in the American South make the wrestling with the cultural issues come alive. Ends with call to action to take a whole year and: Pray for entire world, Read through entire Word, Give money sacrificially for specific purpose, Spend time in another context, and Commit life to a multiplying [church] community. Only recommended for evangelical Christians who want to take their walk with Jesus Christ to an entirely new radical level -- otherwise you will hate this book.
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LibraryThing member zebedeejr
Dr. Platt is an amazing preacher, in the same vein and with the same passion as John Piper, and this book is the print form of the challenges he's brought his church through as the "American dream" is viewed in light of the commands of the Bible to do whatever it takes to spread the Bible's message
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of salvation through Jesus Christ alone to those in the world who've never heard it. While it is true that several evangelical Christian pastors have challenged their congregations to "give until it hurts" in sermons in recent years, viewing the practical steps through which Platt has taken his church, as well as the step-by-step challenge given to the readers at the end of the work is unique.

"Radical" is not a book for all audiences. Non-Christians and those Christians who don't believe the Bible is the actual revelation from God should not even attempt to understand the premise upon which Platt bases his arguments, for everything from the purposes for which humanity was created to what authentic Christianity looks like are wholly grounded in biblical teaching. Additionally, Christians who say they believe the Bible but hate the message Platt brings need to assess their faith's purpose, because Platt reveals the extent to which true Christians should sacrifice in order to reveal the glory of God among those who are less fortunate where we live or who have never had the opportunity (due to geography) to hear the gospel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this work, for the thesis that the goal of life according to the American dream is antithetical to the goal live according to the Bible is proven convincingly. As Platt points out, the American dream leads to comfort, safety, entertainment, and retirement based upon the accumulation of things in this life, whereas the Bible calls for the embracing of uncomfortable situations and conversations, fearlessness in the face of potentially dangerous situations, the shunning of temporary entertainment for satisfaction in the rewards from God in the next life, and a life invested in the future of other people, not our own future interests.
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LibraryThing member rswright
Wow! If a fraction of believers actually did what Pastor David Platt is calling for, I think that the Western, American church would look so radically different that much of what we deem 'church ministry/ministries' would actually disappear. On a personal level, I found this book remarkably
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convicting as I look at my life, the life of my family and the life of the church I attend. Although change may come slowly on the corporate level, it has already begun in my life. Every pastor needs to seriously read this book and ask the hard, unnerving questions-not just in regards to the people they minister to and with- on a personal level. So how about it Pastors? How about it individual believer? Are you (and I) willing to be biblically Radical?
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LibraryThing member left_bench44
There are many books out today that claim to contain the secrets for living a full Christian life; too often, these books just tend to clutter the shelves. David Platt's Radical, however, has the potential to dramatically reshape the Christian landscape in America. His call for Christians to
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abandon the pursuit of the American dream and pursue a life dedicated to glorifying God, both at home and abroad, truly is a radical charge, and it is one based squarely in the Gospel. The stories of the power of God to work through Christians challenge the reader to quit living comfortably and start living a life of complete abandon for God. This is not about your best life now; it is not about finding your own purpose in the world. It is a call to the purpose all Christians have been given: to glorify God and to make Him known to the nations. I would highly recommend this book to every college student wondering about their future, to every middle-aged man or woman questioning whether the corporate climb is all there is, and to every retiree pondering what is next. Simply put, this book is something every Christian should read; it's time for the church to start acting like the body of Christ again, and this book offers some guidance as to what that life would look like.
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LibraryThing member lbutts
As other reviewers have said, every Christian needs to read this book. I heard Rev. Harvey Carey at the 2009 Willow Creek Leadership Summit tell us that we don't need any more binders with plans and programs. We just need to get out there and do something. Radical, is a challenge to not only do
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something but to live biblically rather than worldly. The American Dream consists mainly of acquiring stuff (house, cars, money, stuff we put in the house and cars, etc.). There is a point where "stuff" gets in the way of believing God is in control and we need to listen to Him, rely on Him and live our lives dependent on Him. Platt boils this down to 5 action points: (1) Pray for the whole world, (2) Read the whole Bible in a year, (3) Sacrifice my money for a specific purpose (with an emphasis on "sacrifice", not just give), (4) Spend time in another context (In reference to going elsewhere in the world and minister to people personally.) and (5) Commit your life to multiplying community (making disciples).

If you want a pleasant read, this probably isn't the book. The writing is great but you will be seriously challenged. Every spiritual muscle will be flexed by the time you finish. It was a brutal workout. As one person quoted near the end said of Platt's teaching in his church, it had "destroyed his worldly life." May God use this book's message to set all of us out on a more intentional journey that will destroy our worldly lives so we can live the life He created us to live.
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LibraryThing member dpda2j
Just finished reading Radical by David Platt and I encourage you to read it, but only if you want to think and be challenged.
LibraryThing member lauraloftin
This book has changed my heart in a wonderful way. Every Christian needs to read this.
LibraryThing member A2JC4life
I was very impressed - and refreshed - by this book. Although unfortunately grievous in some of its details, the book outlines the sad state of the church in America today, and calls us to be more. To be radical. Readers are challenged to change our thinking about what "successful" Christianity is.
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We are charged to truly serve Christ, with our time, our habits, our finances, our decisions. It was refreshing to me to see that there are still pastors out there teaching the hard-hitting truth of Scripture. (And, as best I can tell, living it.)

This is an absolute must-read for every Christian in America.
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LibraryThing member Agape
A challenging book to read. It gets close to home as it reveals how much like the larger society the American church is. That is one reason we are so ineffective in our mission to make disciples. He challenges us spend the next year praying for the entire world, reading through the entire Bible,
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sacrificing (not giving from our excess) for the good of others, spending time in either a home or foreign mission context for at least a week, and committing our lives to a Biblical church community that is spreading the good news about Jesus to our world.
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LibraryThing member EnglishGeek13
This isn't going to be a great review since I finished it a while ago, but the biggest impression I was left with was, "Whoa." David Platt says things that many in the Church believe but just don't have the courage to say. I found myself shocked regularly but in a way that also was coming into
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agreement. One of my biggest takeaways, which I've actually been referring to often, is the idea that Jesus was not about numbers while He was here. As soon as a large crowd gathered, he would make controversial yet true statements that would narrow the flock. In doing this, He was building a band of true disciples, and I believe that is what we must be focused on today. I also had the privilege of hearing Platt speak at a local pastors' conference and was again blown away by his insights and reminders of the God we serve. Get this book, but be prepared to have your ideas about Jesus and the Church turned upside-down.
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LibraryThing member ashleymcquirk
This is a must read for every Christian in America. I learned so much from this book, and I have had the pleasure of listening to the author preach before. He is truly a man of God and God shines in this book. Platt takes the Jesus that the American church and places him against the true Jesus of
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the Bible. Platt shows how we have Americanized Jesus so that we can stay in our comfortable homes and comfortable jobs without really taking Jesus seriously and living according to His words. One of the most memorable things for me is the part where David talks about Jesus in the garden and how he wasn't sweating blood because He was scared or anxious about being crucified but because He was going to have to take God's full wrath so that we don't' have to. I had never thought about it that way. I could go on and on about all of the things I learned from this book, I continue to pick up on certain parts as I re-read it. This is a rich book that will be valuable to me for the rest of my life.
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LibraryThing member Steve777
Much-needed prophetic voice for N American Christians to consider laying all of their vast personal wealth on the line for the purposes of Jesus in the world.
LibraryThing member laholmes
Platt chanllenges the American dream, and if a person can be a Christian and still pursue it. A great read and worth the time. It reads quickly and is a great challanenge to get a person thinking about waht it means to really follow God. At times I think he reaches a bit, or overgeneralizes things
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to make a point. It is a quick leap, a very quick leap, from this book to works based salvation, so one must guard their heart against that. While Platt speaks directly against that belief, it would be easy to fall down that slope. All in all a good book.
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LibraryThing member its-lauren
David Platt may be a young pastor of a mega-church, but don't let that turn you away from what is a persuasive and convicting book. The sound, Gospel-centered message is one that is neglected by many pastors, and it is refreshing to see Platt winsomely and humbly plead with the church to
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unashamedly follow Christ.

Platt writes with humility and conviction, presenting a message that is both challenging and encouraging. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member skraft001
His 5 step plan is something every Christian should consider.

There are some very thought provoking statements in this book. A lot regarding hoarding of your money and wher it should really be going. Love the last couple pages that talk about how someday you'll have to give an account of what you
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did with all the money you made and how you spent your time on earth.
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LibraryThing member Sfolds
This book is an excellent recommendation for the Christian that might question the traditions of church. What is church? What should it look like? What should the church be doing?
LibraryThing member deusvitae
If you are content with trying to be a Christian and having the "American dream," then don't read this book.
If you like being comfortable, don't read this book.
But if you're really trying to follow Jesus no matter what the cost, then by all means you must consider this book.

The author convincingly
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and in a convicting way sets forth the contrasts between what Jesus demands of His followers and the ideals of the "American dream." He is more than willing to point fingers at churches and believers and how they have "sold out" the hard parts of the message of Jesus in their pursuit of American ideals. He then shows the way toward radical discipleship-- standing firm for Biblical truth, giving sacrificially, showing concern for the poor and dispossessed, and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom boldly in all places.

Many a sacred cow of American Christianity are eloquently slaughtered, and it is for the best, even if it is uncomfortable. The only reason why I cannot make a wholesale endorsement of the book is the Evangelical predisposition of the author and his insistence on faith only and eternal security.

Nevertheless, the book is most worthy of consideration.
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