Category Archives: Audio Book

The Word of Promise Dramatized Audio Bible

The Word of Promise–NKJV New Testament audio Bible (unabridged). Thomas Nelson, 2007. $149.00. Purchase at Amazon for less than $95.00.  Purchase the MP3 for less than $55.

Introduction/Summary

One of the most viewed reviews on this website is my review of The Word of Promise – New Testament.  I have been asked if I have heard the Old Testament and until now, I have not.  Thomas Nelson was nice enough to send the entire dramatized audio Bible so as to be reviewed.  I will leave the original review published though this review will certainly stand alone and, I think, replace the review of the New Testament.

As for a Summary of this work, suffice it to say that this is an account of God’s creation of the world and man, man’s decision to turn from God in sin, and God’s showing His mercy and grace in sending His Son to live a sinless life so that we may be made right with God once again through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Review

Aesthetic Appeal

First, the box that the entire Bible comes in is very attractive.  It has a glossy finish giving it a pleasing look to the eye as it sits on your mantle, near your stereo, or on a book shelf.  The lid opens at the top allowing the front panel to fold out revealing the five CD-books.  Each CD holder offers a quick index of what is on each audio CD.  The only issue I found is that pulling out cases 2-5 can be a bit difficult as there is nothing separating the five books.  While it may have raised the price some, having individual shelves within the case would have made this a non-issue.

Audio Quality

As I stated in my earlier review, the actors/actresses narrating the some of the men and women in the Bible leave me somewhat distracted.  That is, however, able to be overcome as you listen to the content and allow the different voices and sounds to take you to the land of the Bible.  You can play a game at the website that has you guessing the actor reading the Bible.  That does seem to be a bit too commercialized for me, though.

The most endearing effect of this audio book is that it takes you back to a simpler time when families would gather around the radio in the evenings to hear dramas like Lassie and The Lone Ranger which were all later made into television shows.  The Word of Promise Audio Bible offers the family to once again gather around the radio and to be flooded with audio that will engage the visual mind and nurture the soul.

Children will remain engaged and parents will find that they want to listen to more with their children.  The numerous actors and actresses offer unique voices to each character in the Bible so that every character has an identity all their own.  This is significant as it helps to bring to life the stories of the Bible.

Use in Family Devotions/Worship

The Word of Promise is an excellent resource to bring life to your family devotions.  Sadly, we live in a world where everyone needs (wants) to be entertained.  This makes family worship a bit more difficult as the children often find themselves disengaged because of boredom.  Fortunately, there is now a way to bridge that gap and do so in a way that does not mar the message of Scripture.  As stated above, your children will want to listen more and remain engaged longer.  Suddenly, family worship will be something that the whole family will look forward to.  You will even find that your children may begin asking to listen to The Word of Promise throughout the day!

Recommendation

There is so much more that can be said, but suffice it to say that you will not regret the purchase of this audio bible.  I HIGHLY recommend this resource to every Christian.  I absolutely love this resource and tell everyone looking for an audio Bible that this is the only one they need.  I have a copy for my home and my family car.  You can get the Old Testament or the New Testament though I recommend purchasing both.  Ultimately, if you are searching for an audio Bible, your search is over!

 

 

Knowing God by J.I. Packer

Packer, J.I. Knowing God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993. 318 pp. $18.00. Purchase at Westminster Books for $9.53.  Purchase the audiobook at christianaudio for $14.98.

Introduction

Knowing God is one of those books I have no business writing a review on, but alas, I have been asked to do so via the new audiobook release. J.I. Packer’s Knowing God hardly needs an introduction, but for those who have never read the book, it is a classic with over one million copies sold. The reader will learn “the glory and the joy of knowing God.”

Summary

Divided into three sections among twenty-two chapters, the reader will be introduced to who God is according to the Bible. The first section, Know the Lord, looks at the importance of studying God. Chapter four, The Only True God, always humbles me and convicts me. This chapter alone is worth the book in its entirety.

The second section is a study on the attributes of God. Aptly titled Behold Your God, you will learn about God’s majesty, wisdom, love, grace, and wrath among other attributes. Here, you will be introduced to the depths of the God you say you serve. After reading this section, you will seek to learn more all the while realizing that you cannot possibly exhaust your understanding of even one attribute though this fact will not deter you from trying to do so.
The third section offers the joy of knowing that If God be for Us… You will find yourself led to worship in this section (as if you haven’t been led to do just that already!). What is more, you will find yourself wanting to share the joy you are discovering with anyone who will listen.

Review

I have nothing but positives regarding Packer’s Knowing God. As mentioned above, the chapter on idol worship (ch. 4) is worth the rest of the book by itself. I first read this book a couple years after becoming a believer and was deeply impacted by it. If you are to know God at all, you need to quickly realize that you cannot know Him. Rather, He, God, allows Himself to be known by you. Furthermore, you will learn that it was not you who sought God, but He who sought you. These are glorious truths that will bless and comfort the child of God.

The audiobook, read by Simon Vance, was done so with the gravity that each chapter, sentence, and word carries inherently with it. One need not listen long to know that what you are hearing is profound. At times, the chapters got long, and I would not suggest listening to for longer than a chapter or two. Doing this will keep your mind fresh and focused on the deep truths you are encountering. This is even truer if this is the first time you have stumbled upon this book.

Recommendation

If you have never read Knowing God and you enjoy reading, pick this book up. It made the list of the 5 books every Christian must own and read for a reason. It has impacted my walk with Christ as well as my understanding (or knowledge of my lack) of God in ways that I am sure I don’t quite get as of yet. This is a book that you will want to periodically read over and over for the rest of your life. In the six years since I first read this book, I have read it four times and each time I do, I discover something new or find myself saying, “So that’s where that conviction originated.” Drink deeply from the pen of J.I. Packer—you can hardly find a living author with more depth. 

Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur

MacArthur, John.  Found: God’s Will.  Chicago: David C. Cook, 1998.  64 pp.  $2.00 at Grace To You.

Audiobook

Narrated by John Haag.  Esconido:  christianaudio, 2010.  1.42 hrs.  MP3 download or Audio CD – $5.98.

Introduction

John MacArthur certainly needs no introduction by me but for those who do not know John MacArthur, he well known as an expositor of the Scriptures at Grace Community Church. He has been heard through his radio program Grace To You for many years. He is president of the Master’s College as well as author of nearly a gazillion books. This particular book–Found: God’s Will–explores what the Bible says about knowing what God wants from you in your life.

Summary

At only 64 pages divided into 7 chapters, it is obvious that this book is not very long on words though it is long on practical application to one’s life. The five foundational messages regarding God’s will for your life is that you be saved by the blood of Christ. Once saved, you are to be filled with the Spirit so that you are sanctified by Him. The final two are not popular, but they are biblical. You are to be submissive to the authority of the Lord and to be a suffering servant (for more explanation you will have to read get the book). The final will of God is that if the first five are in properly in place, then by all means, do whatever you want.

Review

I appreciate that this book is short. I appreciate that MacArthur says so much in such a confined space. The pearls of wisdom found in the pages of this book are well worth digging into and applying to your life. There was one section of the book, however, in which I completely disagreed.

On page 19, MacArthur writes, “Since we have the Spirit, we also have power, for Jesus said, ‘But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you’ (Acts 1:8, NASB). The word for power in the greek is dunamis, from which we got our word ‘dynamite.’ You are literally walking dynamite.” This takes place in his chapter on God’s will being that you are filled with the Spirit. He goes on to make the point that because you are filled with power (dynamite) that you should live as such.

The problem I have with this is that it is an extremely common exegetical fallacy known as semantic anachronism. Semantic Anachronism is when a later use of a word (dynamite) is read back into an earlier literature and, in this case, a change of language (dunamis). Certainly, they had no idea what dynamite was in 1st century Palestine!  D.A. Carson treats this (specifically, the use of ‘dynamite’) in his book, which I highly recommend, Exegetical Fallacies if you are looking for more information on this sort of thing.

Regardless of the use of this particular fallacy, it is important to also note that the point being made is still true.  The power of the Holy Spirit is far more explosive than a stick of dynamite and is something that we ought to think about as believers in Christ.

Audio Review

At only an hour and 25 minutes, this book can be listened to probably in one day as you tool around town or back and forth to work. Listening to it a couple times will prove beneficial to your soul and walk with the Lord. John Haag does a fine job of reading this “sermon” of sorts. His voice rises and falls with sincerity as he reads what is an answer to perhaps the most asked question by believers today–What is God’s Will for my life?

Recommendation

Despite the exegetical fallacy, I still found this book (and audiobook) extremely edifying to my soul. I recommend this book to anyone seeking legitimate answers to the question of God’s will for my life. You will find MacArthur fairly solid and certainly biblical in his treatment of this tough question.

Sexual Detox by Tim Challies

Challies, Tim.  Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys who are Sick of Porn.  Adelphi:  Cruciform Press, 2010.  112 pp.  $9.99.  Purchase at Westminster.

audiobook

Narrated by Tim Challies.  Adelphi: Cruciform Press, 2010.  1.7 hrs.  MP3 download: $9.98.

Introduction

Tim Challies is renown for his review website, Discerning Reader as well as Challies.com.  To be reviewing one of his books is a bit daunting since he is “the man” in the Christian book review world.  Nonetheless, as a book reviewer, I was asked to review the audio version of Sexual Detox and so I purchased the print book in order to review both.

Summary

Sexual Detox is a short, sweet, to the point book that moves from the cultural acceptance to the biblical understanding of human sexuality and the rejection of our perversion of a gift God has given.  Divided into six chapters, Challies discusses in a gentle, yet hard-hitting manor, the realities of pornography in the health of a marriage as well as the corrosion of the mental make-up of both men and women.

Written primarily for men, the final two chapters help men steeped in sexual immorality to ‘detox’ from the constant bombardment of sexual immorality.  The best line in the book is “You need to stop looking at pornography.  And you need to stop masturbating.  Right now.  As in, this instant.  Not tomorrow.  Today.”  Pretty sound advice if you ask me.

Review

I found the book to be an excellent treatise on the realities of pornography.  I also found that his style of writing in this particular area made the exhortation so much more the palatable.  So often in books about pornography or sexual immorality the author can come off sounding a bit harsh and judgmental.  Not Tim.  That was very much appreciative.

There was one area, however, that I disagreed with Tim.  On page 63, in the chapter on Detox in the Bedroom, he writes,

Imagine that on a particular occasion a married Christian has no desire for sex.  Because of God’s command, that husband or wife should seriously reconsider.  In fact, even if neither spouse wants sex for a prolonged time, the couple should still have sex for God’s sake out of obedience to him.  (Such a couple also needs to address the larger issue of why the desire for intimacy has slipped away!)

While I agree that there is a need to address the reason(s) for the desire of intimacy to be lacking, I disagree that a couple should have sex “for God’s sake” if they have not had sex in a while.  There are many reasons why sexual intimacy is lacking in a marriage.  Often times, it is because of the season involving work and/or children that the couple finds themselves in.  Other times, it is a medical condition or even a physical ailment that is preventing such intimacy.  In many instances, one’s spouse is not capable of having sex and the healthy spouse, out of love and affection, “loses” the desire for sex.  My fear with such advice is that sex becomes more of a task to perform rather than a gift given by God for the couple to enjoy.

The heart of 1 Cor. 7:5 is to not deprive one another.  In many instances, there is no withholding of sex other than because of the season of life or the physical/medical conditions preventing sexual relations.  Now, if one spouse is struggling with immorality, during such a season, then it is up to the couple to find a way to fulfill the command of God in this area and do so in a biblically acceptable manner.

Audio Review

I found the audio book to be well done and extremely conversational in tone which is tough to do when discussing something as taboo as pornography and sexual immorality.  The one concern I had was the speed in which Tim read the questions at the end of each chapter.  I would have liked a bit more of a pause to be able to reflect somewhat on the questions being asked.  Regardless, I found the audio book to be well done and enjoyable to listen to–especially while driving or jogging.

Recommendation

If you are going to purchase one book on sexual immorality to give to a young man, I would recommend giving them Sexual Detox.  It is short and will keep the reader’s attention.  The message is biblically saturated while offering keen insight into the way in which we are to combat the sexual immorality, specifically, pornography, today.  I pray more men will read this book and get serious about killing the snake that is pornography.

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“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.”
Jeremiah 31:3

This verse is the December 20th reading from Morning and Evening by C.H. Spurgeon. Spurgeon expounds like no other on the love of God for man demonstrated in the life of Christ Jesus. As we get ready to celebrate the Savior’s birth, we at christianaudio would like to express to you our sincerest thanks and best wishes for the upcoming year. May the peace of God reign in you this Christmas!
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Transformational Church by Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer

Stetzer, Ed, and Thom Rainer. Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2010. 320 pp. $22.99. Purchase at Amazon for $15.63 or less.

Audiobook

Narrated by John Lescault. Esconido: christianaudio Hovel, 2010. 9 hrs. Audio CD – $24.98 Download – $14.98

Introduction

Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, one of the largest Christian resource companies in the world. He has consulted with more than five hundred churches, served as pastor of four churches and interim pastor in seven churches, and spoken in hundreds of venues worldwide.

Ed Stetzer has planted churches in New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia and transitioned declining churches in Indiana and Georgia. He has trained pastors and church planters on five continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates.

Summary


You can learn more at TransformationalChurch.com. You can read parts of the book at Google books.

Review/Recommendation

Having listened to the audiobook, I was impressed with the research and the recommendations offered by the authors. This is not a book that will provide you a how-to list of things your church can do to see growth. Rather, they look at other churches across denominational barriers. Instead of telling you what you must do to reach people, you will learn what churches that are actually experiencing growth and reaching people with a gospel message that leads to regenerate men and women.

You will learn that what I find are many “duh” statements. Things like the necessity of prayer and the need to focus worship on God and not man come quickly to mind. In essence, get back to the Bible and your church will see the growth that many desire. That growth, however, will not be a worldly growth in numbers (though those will come). Rather, the growth will be in the spirituality of the congregation.

I realize there are a ton of “how-to grow your church manuals” being published and sold as the next great innovation. Transformational Church is not one of those manuals. To read this book is to take a hard look at what you are doing correctly and incorrectly in your own church. The new report card will help you to discern your need, embrace the necessity of change, and engage your community where they (and you) are located. I highly recommend this resource in both the audio and print editions.

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper

Piper, John. Don’t Waste Your Life. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2003. 192 pp. $15.99. Purchase at Westminster Books for $11.38.

audiobook

Narrated by Lloyd James. Esconido: christianaudio Hovel, 2007. 6.25 Hrs. CD–$23.98 MP3 CD–$19.98 Download—$14.98

Introduction

If you have not heard of John Piper, then you must either not be a regular reader of Christian Book Notes or you are new believer in Jesus Christ. John Piper has made popular what he calls Christian Hedonism—being so passionate about the One, Jesus Christ, who is worthy of our praise. Don’t Waste Your Life is another work of Piper’s toward that one goal.

Summary

Don’t Waste Your Life is divided into ten chapters that takes the reader on a theological journey through John Piper’s mind that led him to really what is the main thrust of his ministry. He shares his search for “a single passion” during his college years leading to his ‘discovery’ that Christ truly is our all in all.

As he shares his testimony of finding the beauty of Christ in everything, he accelerates toward the telos (the end) of how to live a life saturated in Christ. Along the way, Piper shows how to make much of Christ in the workplace as well as in the church. In essence, no matter where you are in your walk with Christ, no matter what your age or IQ, the reader is challenged to begin living for Christ in such a radical way so that at the end, you will not say “I’ve wasted my life.”

Review

It is refreshing to read from the heart of arguably one of the most prolific writers and preachers in America today. What is more, I am convinced we are seeing the fruit of his passion for Christ in the writings and ministries of men like David Platt, Kevin DeYoung, and Mark Dever.

Having been written in 2003, coupled with my just now reading/listening to this book, I have the ability to see how this book in particular has helped to change a Christian sub-culture (poor choice of words?) and has led them to seek to serve Christ with their lives. Piper does not write Don’t Waste Your Life to the pastor, the missionary, or the believer in the pew. Rather, he writes to everyone who calls on the name of Christ as Lord and Savior. Much like David Platt’s Radical, Piper challenges all to be so enraptured with the glories of Christ, that your every waking (and possibly sleeping?) moment is captivated by Christ so that you cannot help but seek to worship and serve Him.

Recommendation

I recommend to anyone looking at what it means to be “sold out for Jesus” to read Don’t Waste Your Life. Even better, you can download the audiobook and listen to it in your car and listen to it on your drive. Who knows, this might be the perfect catalyst to get you to redeem even the time in your car. His chapter on making much of Christ from 8-5 is much needed for the Christian who is in the work place daily. The grind at the office can sap you of energy and drag your spiritual mindedness down to the pits of Sheol. Allow John Piper to show you how to not waste your life.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. 232 pp. $12.95. Purchase the hardback at Westminster or the paperback at Amazon. Also available for the Kindle.

Audiobook

Narrated by Geoffrey Howard.  Esconido: christianaudio.  5.9 hours.  Download – $16.98.

Introduction

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) is perhaps best known for his Chronicles of Narnia series.  He has, however, written numerous volumes that are still widely read today.  Some may not know this, but he died on the same day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated–22 November 1963.  He was primarily an English professor at various higher institutions of learning.  Mere Christianity is perhaps the most influential work insofar as an introduction to the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

The book was more an outgrowing of some radio addresses given by C.S. Lewis in the 1940’s.

Summary

Divided into four books, Lewis moves from a general understanding of the reality of God to what Christians believe and how they (should) behave.  He concludes in book four with an exposition on how the doctrine of the Trinity applies to us today.

Book one looks at the reality of the moral law and how it applies to all people at all times regardless of personal beliefs.  He then argues that if their is a moral law that transcends humanity, there must be a Giver of the law.  From there he moves into the Christian’s understanding of this Law Giver.

The second book looks specifically at the Christian’s understanding of God.  It is here where Lewis draws the line in the sand so to speak.  To put it quite succinctly, if you believe in anything  but the God of the Christian Bible, then you are wrong.  The rest of the book is a basic apologetic (defense) of the Christian claims to Truth and the demands made on one’s life.

Perhaps the most famous section of Mere Christianity is book 3 on Christian behavior.  Here, Lewis delineates between the Cardinal Virtues (those that are followed by all people) and the Theological Virtues (those that are specific to Christianity).  The four cardinal virtues are prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude.  The final ten chapters of this section explain the theological virtues.

Lewis concludes with a look at the importance of the Trinity in the Christian’s life.  At its core, we find here a power that supersedes anything this world has to offer.  Here, we learn of the sanctification of the believer.

Review

What can be said in favor of or against C.S. Lewis that has not been said already?  By keeping the topic of Christianity at such a general level, Lewis has penned perhaps the most important book regarding the basic beliefs that must be held by a Christian if they are to call Christ their Lord and Savior.

Unfortunately, because of his views on evolution (he assumes it as true) many today hold that one’s view of the Biblical account of creation is not important.  This is not so.  If Genesis one is not true, then John 3:16 is not true.  If God did not create from nothing, then Christ need not come and die for our sins.  I realize this is an oversimplification of the point, but it is nonetheless true.

There are a few other areas in which I disagree with Lewis, but that is the beauty of Mere Christianity, one can disagree and still find the common ground in Christ that brings us all together.  Aside from his evolutionary take on origins, I appreciated his candor in handling the fundamental beliefs of Christianity.

His chapter on sexual morality ought to be read by every Christian in the church today.  His understanding of sinful man becoming new creatures in Christ is still another chapter that should be read.  There are many in the church today who say that unless you have been radically changed (generally the assumption is “as I have been”) then you are not a true Christian.  Lewis puts that misnomer to bed and exhorts all to look to Christ and find the power in Him to worry about yourself rather than others.

Recommendation

If you have never read this book, you are wrong!  Even with his views of evolution throughout, this book demands to be read.  For so many Christians today, we want to divide over secondary and tertiary doctrinal issues.  It saddens me that a Presbyterian and a Southern Baptist cannot get along because they have differing views on baptism when neither is saying that one’s baptism will save from sin.

Mere Christianity helps to bring the conversation back to the basics and often times that is where we need to not only start, but remain.

What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp

Tripp, Paul David.  What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage.  Wheaton:  Crossway Books, 2010.  290 pp.  $21.99.  Purchase at Westminster for $14.73.

Audio book

Narrated by Lloyd James.  Esconido: christianaudio.  10.75 hours.  Download – $14.98, CD – $24.98.

Introduction

I will allow Dr. Tripp to provide the introduction for this book:

You can also listen to Dr. Tripp on a recent FamilyLife Today broadcast series talking about this book.

Summary

Dr. Tripp reshapes the expectations of marriage with six commitments. They are as follows:

  1. We will give ourselves to a regular lifestyle of confession and forgiveness.
  2. We will make growth and change our daily agenda.
  3. We will work together to build a sturdy bond of trust.
  4. We will commit to building a relationship of love.
  5. We will deal with our differences with appreciation and grace.
  6. We will work to protect our marriage.

You will note that the operative phrase is “we will.” Marriage is not all give or all take. Marriage is when two sinners say “I do.” Those two sinners must now figure out how they are going to live together in a God glorifying marriage.

Review

The content of What Did You Expect is dead on.  Tripp is God-centered, Christ-exalting, and very real when it comes to dealing with the marital strife. With the entire book set up as a marriage counseling session. Each “session” points the person being counseled (the reader) as the problem in the marriage. Dr. Tripp continually points to “you” as the problem. It is easy for the counselor to tell the counselee that s/he is not at fault thus really making the problem worse.

Fortunately, Tripp nails this. By taking the focus off of the problems of the spouse, and, rightfully I might add, onto the person reading the book, Tripp effectively breaks down many barriers to counseling. After showing the reader that he is the cause of the problem, Dr. Tripp points him to Christ. That is the most important aspect of this book–Jesus Christ needs to be at the center of your marriage. Without Him, your marriage is in more trouble than you realize.

I do have one minor problem with the book (besides being aggravated that it was not written before I got married!) although it is very minor given the scope of the book. At the end of chapter 3, Tripp writes,

Reconciling your marriage begins when you begin to reconcile with God. It begins when you begin to pray this radical prayer: ‘Your kingdom come, you will be done, right here, right now in this marriage as it is in heaven.’ Good things happen as the result of that prayer!

My only concern is that this prayer might become a “magic” prayer causing the reader to become delusional thinking that just by merely reading it or saying it or repeating it, his marriage will be saved. I completely understand that Dr. Tripp does not intend for that to happen, but people have been putting their hope in prayers instead of Christ for so long that this must be cautioned against.

Audio Review

It was the best of the times and it was the worst times.

Lloyd James (not to be confused with Lloyd-Jones) became my favorite narrator with this book.  He read this book quick enough to keep your attention but slow enough to allow the words to really sink in to your mind and then heart.  His voice rose and fell when necessary and sped up with excitement when the context called for it.  I was engaged with the “voice” the entire time and felt as though I was sitting in the counselor’s room.

With that said, christianaudio needs to reformat the audio files.  In most cases, they format their downloaded files with the numbers as such: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, …20, 21, 22.  This can become problematic when you download the files to your mp3 player.  The mp3 player recognizes the order as such: 1, 10, 11, 12,….2, 20, 21, 22, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.  You can see how this can be aggravating but not horrible to deal with.

This time, however, they formatted the files as such: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven….seventeen.  It became a real pain to attempt to listen to the book since “eight” was the first file and one came towards the bottom.  Having to search for those files almost caused me not to listen to the book.  Thankfully, the content and narration was worth the effort.  If you are going to purchase the audio book, I would advise getting the CD’s instead of the download.  Still, the book is worth the struggle.

Recommendation

As I stated above, I really wish this book was available when I got married in 2002. Reading this book helped me to see some of my own problems. Now, my wife is wanting to read it. This book needs to be in every pastor’s library. If you plan on getting married, read this book. If you are already married, read this book…together. You can purchase the CD audio or the DVD presentation of the seminar as well as 10-packs of books at greatly reduced prices. Do so.

Radical by David Platt

Platt, David. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2010. 240 pp. $14.99. Purchase at Westminster for $10.04.

Audiobook

Narrated by David Platt.  Esconido: christianaudio.  6 1/2 hours.  Download – $12.98, CD – $21.98.

Introduction

I purchased the actual book though I was offered the audio edition to review.  This review is rather long, but, I pray, provides some areas of conversation for all Christians to discuss what it means to be sold out for Christ.

David Platt currently serves as lead pastor at the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a noted minister with a love for missions and the Spiritual Disciplines. I can recall him “preaching” at a chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where his “sermon” was his reciting Romans 1-9 and then summing up the chapters with a short five minute commentary. I can honestly say that the power of the Holy Spirit showed up that day in chapelunlike any other chapel service I have witnessed.  The essence of his message is that a radical shift in our understanding of missions and church is needed in America.

Summary

In a short, but challenging, 220 pages, Dr. David Platt takes the reader on a journey from comfort to radical abandonment. He begins by showing how Christ is the Someone worth losing everything for though we may not see it that way. He compares his experiences with churches here in America against churches in closed and third world countries.

He challenges the reader to a biblical understanding of discipleship as opposed to our programmatic understanding of teaching. If we are to fulfill what many call the Great Commission, then we need to train the next generation for such a purpose. Throughout the book, Platt offers numerous examples from his own church as members have moved from a life of luxury to a life of being sold out for the mission work assigned to each one of us as believers. The book concludes with a challenge to churches and Christians alike to take the “Radical Experiment.”

Review

I have benefited much from the preaching ministry of Dr. David Platt.  I have heard him a few times in person at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as well as on the Internet via iTunes.  He certainly is a devoted follower of Christ and his motives are pure insofar as I can tell.  His heart is enraptured by the awesomeness of proclaiming the gospel to the entire world.  What he has written in Radical needs to be heard by most in the American Christian churches–we have become too lax in our devotion (if you can call it that).  What follows is a critical assessment of an excellent book.  Please know that I criticize as a fellow pastor within the same denomination as Dr. Platt and therefore he is more like family than anything else.

For an excellent theological and more critical review of Radical read Kevin DeYoung’s review and dialogue with David Platt here.  While I agree with much of what DeYoung wrote, I would like to offer a couple observations myself from a slightly different perspective.  Please note that this is not critical for the sake of being critical.  These are merely observations that struck me as I read this excellent book.

First, Dr. Platt is challenging the American cultural context not with Scripture so much as he does with his experiences in various other cultural contexts.  In many ways this is comparing apples and oranges.  While I agree wholeheartedly that we must seek to understand the Bible outside our American mindset, I do not believe it is wise to compare our understanding of the faith to another country’s understanding and say that they have it right.  It must be in accordance with Scripture which David does bring into the discussion.  Regardless, we need to be careful that we do not set another culture’s practices of Christianity above ours and say that there is what we must strive for.  From his perspective, it seems the best manner in which we can better become biblical Christians in the United States is if it were to become illegal and we were forced to the underground.  (For what it’s worth, I do see this as a very viable possibility in the next 20 years or so).

Second, I honestly wonder if this book would have been written if Dr. David Platt was pastor of First Baptist Church Podunk.  There are numerous churches with congregations less than 150 who are radical in their approach to Christianity.  They sacrifice much for the kingdom knowing full well that their reward awaits them in heaven.  Platt pastors a church of over 4,000 members in a fairly affluent neighborhood of Birmingham, Al.

Given our American cultural expectations, I honestly do not believe this book would have been published without the 4,000 member congregation changing their mindset and moving from comfort and luxury for the self to the radical faith in which Platt espouses.  In other words, because it works there, we ought to take note because this is a “mega-church.”

The second point feeds into the third point which is the programmatic mindset that Platt rails against is actually a driving force behind the publishing of this book.  You can go to the book’s website and find out more about “the movement” and purchase resources and materials to help spread the word.  By the way, you can also purchase mini-booklets to give to your friends.

Finally, and this is a two-part criticism, the claims in Radical are very paradoxical.  On one hand, Platt is saying you need to sell everything for Christ while at the same time you can download his podcasts on iTunes.  Platt is telling you to sell everything for missions but, before you do, be sure to purchase these resources to better equip your congregation to do the same thing.  (For the record, I have heard him state that all proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards missions.)  Now, please don’t mistake these examples as being explicit in the book.  They are not! However, they are implicit by the mere fact that all of this is available.  As I said, it is paradoxical.

The ultimate last concern I have is that all throughout the book, Platt talks of how easy it is to become a Christian in the U.S. by walking an aisle, praying a prayer, and signing a card (I agree that these sacraments have done much harm to the church) but at the end of the book, he has a card that you can sign and date stating that, [you] “agree with the Radical claim that [you] can find satisfaction and real service to God only in abandonment to Jesus.”  There is even a line for you to sign and date your commitment to the Radical Experiment.

Audio Review

The audio of this book is actually read by David Platt himself.  This is nice in that the author is able to offer insight through his voice as to what he was thinking when he wrote the book.  Nonetheless, having heard Dr. Platt preach on a few occasions, what is read here is nothing like what he has preached in the past.  I am almost positive that I have heard chapters 1 and 2 preached from the pulpit.  As a preacher, Platt flat out “brings it” with a “thus sayeth the Lord” approach that is lost in so many pulpits today.

While it may be an unfair assessment, I believe his reading falls far short of his preaching.  This is an obvious statement to many, especially those who have preached, but is one thing I could not get past as I listened to much of the book.

Recommendation

I realize that I was fairly critical in this review, but be rest assured, this book is a must read.  You will be challenged in many of your assumptions.  There will be times when you will get angry at what David is asking you to do.  But, you will quickly realize that this anger is from your own shallow understanding of the gospel that is found in most American churches.  If you have struggled with what a more biblical approach to the Christian faith looks like, then Radical is a perfect read for you.  You will see things from a different perspective and will learn how to think outside our Americanized preconceived notions of Christianity.