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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Sunday, December 02, 2012

More on David Platt

I am currently reading David Platt's bestselling book "Radical Together", a follow-up to his book "Radical", for which I posted some notes a few weeks ago.  Like "Radical", while the book so far has some admirable qualities, it is lacking in sound theology, or, for that matter, any real theology at all.  A few things in particular stand out.  Platt, being a low church evangelical, seems to have no substantial ecclesiology.  This includes any real understanding of a Biblical doctrine of ordination and the clergy/laity distinction found in Scripture.  Since Platt is an Evangelical and a Baptist, this isn't entirely surprising.  Yet one would expect better from a pastor and former seminary professor.  He also lacks any solid notion of the Biblical doctrine of vocation.  Again, this isn't surprising from an Evangelical.  And the third thing that stands out, in connection with these other things, is his lack of Biblical understanding of the family.  The result of all this in real time is a church situation where all the people are constantly engaged in "ministry", using their jobs for saving souls rather than what they exist for, and neglecting their families for the sake of said "ministry".  It's a disastrous formula, one which has existed in the American church for some time, and which we have been reaping the benefits of, I believe, resulting in the dissolution of the Christian family, the dissolution of the organized Church, and, inevitably, the demoralizing of the State, as all these things are invariably connected.  It would be unfair to say the above doctrines, or lack thereof, have been solely responsible for the circumstances I just mentioned.  I would suggest nonetheless that they have been factors, and significant ones at that, at least in the Evangelical and Protestant community.

But I haven't finished the book, and I don't intend this as a full review.  Yet one small piece jumped out at me as I have been reading the book, which I'll put forward here.

Platt says, "We definitely do not have to construct buildings as houses of worship.  In the words of Stephen before he was martyred by the Sanhedrin, 'The Most High does not live in houses made by men'" (pgs. 62-63).  Platt misses the point that Solomon himself had acknowledged this in his prayer at the dedication of the Temple, to which Stephen was alluding (1 Kings 8:27).  And knowing this, Solomon built God a house anyway.  The point of Stephen's statement wasn't that houses of worship shouldn't be built.  It was that God would no longer be represented by one single house centrally located in Israel, that God would be worshipped from then on among all peoples of the earth, and that the Jewish people had not revered and worshipped the God that the Temple represented, which was bringing judgment upon Israel.

Platt seems to regard only two paradigms for church life - gigantic American megachurches, or emergency living in portions of the world where persecution from the government exists or where church life is simple due to poverty.  The former he rejects as unbiblical, the latter he idealizes.  He can't seem to acknowledge that there are other options, maybe wiser, more biblical options.  It would help if Platt had an idea of the maturity of the Church through history, and the development of Christian culture, evidenced in the spread of the Gospel since the establishing of the Church.  But as this is something that most Evangelicals fail to see in our day, despite regularly partaking of the fruits of Christendom, this isn't too shocking.

Mr. Platt has another book coming out the beginning of the year, one longer than what he's written so far, and hopefully it will be more substantial than what he's published up to this point.  Once again, this isn't to say that he has said nothing important.  But his books are largely so vapid that I have no clue what his foundational theological views are.  Where does he stand eschatologically, for instance?  This has an obvious impact on his conception of missions.  I wonder, though, if he even realizes that .  Perhaps Mr. Platt will begin to reflect more deeply on the various theological topics that have captured the Church over the past two thousand years, and he will use those things to examine his own beliefs and teaching.  This much I can say - from what I've read, these things are incredibly absent from his writings.

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