David Platt is no stranger to provocative claims. Last spring he challenged the Southern Baptist leadership to rethink its reliance on the "sinner's prayer." Two years earlier he published the bestselling Radical, a trenchant critique of materialism and widespread complacency in the American church. Now, in his latest book, Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live (Tyndale), Platt, lead pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama, turns from letting go of the American Dream to grabbing hold of Jesus, and recognizing the high demands of being his disciple. Jeff Haanen, a freelance writer and school administrator, spoke with Platt on the pervasiveness of "cultural Christianity," the role of hell in evangelism, and the sharper edges of following Christ today. (CT managing editor Katelyn Beaty also spoke with Platt at the recent Urbana Student Missions Conference, and parts of that conversation are included here.)
In Radical, you critiqued a version of the American Dream. How is Follow Me different?
In Radical my goal was to expose values and ideals that are common in our culture yet antithetical to the gospel. So I was focusing on what we need to let go of in order to follow Jesus. In Follow Me I move from what we need to let go of to who we hold on to as followers of Jesus. So I'm not just looking at the gravity of the things we've forsaken, but looking at the greatness of the One we follow, and what it really means to follow Jesus on a day-by-day basis.
A lot of people, after reading Radical, said, "Okay, what do I need to do? Do I need to sell my house? Do I need to adopt children? Do I need to move to another country?" My answer would be, "Go to Jesus." ...