David Platt, 34, is the pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, whose message are often controversial but never without power. A life-long learner, David has earned two undergraduate and three advanced degrees including a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. His new book, Follow Me: A Call to Live, A Call to Die, has also caused some believers to grow restless. In it, David shows people that the call to follow Christ is more than an invitation to pray a prayer, but a summons to lose your life. In this interview, the radical preacher talks about his radical message and why it’s ruffled so many Christians’ feathers.
JM: What kind of response did you receive from Radical?
DP: On the whole, a lot of people read Radical, which led to various responses, but overall I sensed that the message in that book was resonating with what many people were (and are) already thinking. Many Christians look at the Bible and then look at the picture of American Christianity around them and think, “This doesn’t add up. Something is wrong here.” And so I think I simply put into words what many people were already sensing. Along the way, there were also various criticisms of the book. Some believed the book was too theologically conservative and others thought it was too socially liberal, if I could use those terms. But I’m convinced that a firm grasp of the gospel leads to sacrificial living for God’s glory in a world of poverty and suffering, especially when it comes to spiritual poverty and eternal suffering.
JM: Were you surprised by the fact that such a hard-to-swallow message was so widely accepted?
DP: Yes and no. On one hand, I had pretty low expectations, and so I was surprised that many people read the book at all! On the other hand, I believe many Christians are longing for more. They know that there is more to following Jesus than the routine religion we are tempted to settle for at every turn. And I’m convinced that every follower of Christ who truly has the Spirit of Christ in them wants to be a part of living radically for His name’s sake in the world. I hope this book helps them consider what that might look like in practice.