David Platt Frightens Me


In which David Platt’s academic chops do me in. And I’m simply fulfilling my promise to write about Radical all week

Ever hear anyone complain that academics are divorced from reality?

That theorists would simply collapse in shock if they ever stepped down from their ivory tower into the dirty world of human beings?

That some professors are educated beyond their usefulness?

That scholars are cut off from emotion, compassion and spiritual devotion?

Granted, there’s a lot of truth behind these complaints.

Intellectuals tend to elevate the mind over the heart, making the pursuit of doctorates more important than people.

But not all academics fall to this temptation. Take David Platt for example.

Educated to the Hilt

At first glance, you could level those accusations at David Platt.

He earned two undergraduate degrees from the University of Georgia. He followed that up with three advanced degrees.

But he wasn’t finished.

He added a doctor of philosophy from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary [NOBTS] to his curriculum vitae.

He then served as dean of chapel and assistant professor of expository preaching and apologetics at NOBTS.

The man is a highly accomplished academic. [And as an arm-chair intellectual, he scares me.]

Naturally, you’d expect his book Radical to read like a professional journal. But it doesn’t.

Entering the Dirty Business of Human Beings

Here’s what can’t be missed: Platt gets around.

His book is shaped by his overseas mission trips to places like India and Indonesia.

It’s influenced by his time as pastor at the Church at Brook Hills.

And it’s predisposed to sound a lot like John Piper–the quintessential scholar-turned-pastor–who obviously impacted Platt.

All this serves to make Platt firmly grounded in the dirty business of human beings, compassionate to the bone and ridiculously eager to make disciples.

Which in turn makes Radical a book anyone could read.

In fact, it’s almost simplistic. Sometimes redundant. It’s Richard Wurmbrand meets Kevin DeYoung.

You won’t get lost in this book. Neither will you have to re-read any sentences. In fact, you’ll almost get bored.

But at that moment when you’re tempted to close the book, Platt pulls you back in. He does this in a handful of ways.

Radical: Sticky from Experience and Education

He might draw out a beautiful analogy about the church being a troop carrier turned luxury liner.

Or a gripping story about a young, intelligent woman killed in a bizarre bus accident while she served Palestinian refugees in Egypt.

Or a potent scene where believers in China begged him to teach them the Old Testament…and ten days later to teach them the New.

While all these things make for a good read we have to remember that Platt argues from a very simple platform: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A platform he demonstrates you don’t need a degree to preach. Or a doctorate to understand.

Just a heart that hungers to lose it’s will in the will of God and no longer desires anything for himself–except the glory of God.

And it’s just this kind of heart that drives the hardcore academic David Platt.