The most popular book that I have reviewed so far on WOTG has been Radical by David Platt. Within that review I also gave my thoughts on Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I wish the most popular review would have been for You Lost Me by David Kinnaman, everyone needs to read that book, but I digress.
There is no doubt that Radical is a popular book. Now they are marketing the life out of the book, which seems somewhat contradictory to the premise, with Radical Together and Radical pamphlets.
Before I begin my re-review I want to stress that I enjoyed both Radical and Crazy Love but I would not recommend them to anyone who doesn’t already have a good grasp of the differences between asceticism and renunciation.
Crazy Love by Francis Chan
I don’t know of any other author that is as engaging to this generation and remarkable in character as Francis Chan. He truly practices what he preaches and the reader gets a sense of genuine authenticity that he has pierced the veil and experienced the presence of God. The main points of Crazy Love are spot on. They perfectly describe a generation that is drowning in consumerism. He is able to look at the culture and accurately describe it, but when he uses the Scriptures he tends to sensationalize it. Very few points are actually defended with definitive passages. This is not to say he is speaking inaccurately about the Bible, but that he is not actually using the Bible to prove his thesis. Chan may not speak very authoritatively and I may disagree on a few points, but his intimate approach to ministry is encouraging and inspiring.
David Platt is more up my alley as an orthodoxical thinker. His expositions are more accurate and his careful eye for detail gives him more authority than Chan when he writes. The main points and outline of Radical are almost identical to that of Crazy Love with the exception of a few things. The only major difference is the personality of the individuals writing. Platt is far more critical and exegetical than Chan, but his emotional connection is not as strong. While not as charismatic as Chan, Platt’s book has not lost steam since it’s release.
The Problem with both books
I said before that I appreciated both books, but I wouldn’t recommend them without a warning. The area where both books are lacking is that they don’t accurately define and oppose the doctrine of asceticism. As a result, they may not be offering an alternative that is any better than the present condition. Though it is not their intent to proposition asceticism, for many, it is the inevitable outcome of the trajectory in the books.
Asceticism is a subtle heresy. It teaches that we must live with less. Holiness by the means of anything other than grace is legalism. Holiness by means of asceticism is legalism. Renunciation teaches that we are not our own and we ought to give everything over to God. We can still have big churches, nice houses, and fancy cars. Abraham was extremely wealthy but he possessed nothing. You can, and should, read my essay on The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing by A.W. Tozer to fully understand the differences of asceticism and renunciation.
My greatest fear is that ten or twenty years from now we will see the tragic affects of a generation which confuses asceticism with holiness. While we have become too entangled with consumerism, I’m afraid that the pendulum swing will go too far in the opposite extreme. Platt and Chan’s books are widely popular because they express a frustration with consumerism young believers already have. My warning is that we don’t just respond to a problem without full understanding.