David Platt’s “Seismic Questions” and the Great Commission

Written by Toni S. Brown

In 2010 TGC council member David Platt, former TWG chair for the ecumenical Lausanne Movement and president of the North American Missions Board, set youth groups on fire all over the country with a passion for eradicating poverty and human suffering after the release of his New York Times best-selling book “Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream.” 

I personally witnessed the impact this book had on a youth group in my former church after a 12 weeks study of Radical. Subsequently, “Youth Sunday” rolled around and three of the graduating seniors approached the pulpit to share their long term, post-graduation plans for serving Christ. One girl pledged a life dedicated to fighting human trafficking and was headed to Honduras, the other young girl made an emotional plea on behalf of the global hunger crisis, and the young man on the stage made mention of any number of social ills, bemoaning the wealth and prosperity in the West. They spoke for a total of 30 minutes with not one word on the hopeless spiritual condition worldwide, or the need to preach the gospel to every creature.

The Great Commission never really came up, and though Platt certainly did not exclude the proclamation of the gospel from his best-seller, it is clearly not the message these young Christians came away with in the end – and therein lies the problem. For them it was all about meeting physical needs and eliminating suffering – this was and is their mission. This is significant and very telling indeed.

Platt’s latest book titled Something Needs To Change is set for release in September 2019 and is clearly a plea for change –but exactly what is Platt’s burden for change?  The book won’t be released for several more months and perhaps it would be best not to speculate too much, but an excerpt from the promo-ad featured on his Radical website reveals exactly what it is that has been keeping David Platt up at night:

David Platt was fresh off a trek through some of the highest mountains and remotest villages in the world. While there, he saw firsthand some of the most urgent physical and spiritual needs imaginable. Late one night, face to the floor in a flood of tears, he found himself overwhelmed with seismic questions:

  • “If the gospel is true and God really is good, then where is God amid extreme poverty and pain?
  • Where are the peace and protection of God for the oppressed and exploited in the world?
  • Is hell really a place and does it actually last forever?
  • If so, then why are so many people born into what seems like an earthly hell, only to move to an eternal one? How can that be fair?”

Seismic questions? Absent from the four bullet points listed in the promo-ad is anything spiritual, as Platt is clear that it is physical suffering and global injustice that prompted him to write this book. He may talk about the spiritual…and I’m sure he will, but it is clearly not his burden. The ad goes on:

In this compelling account of that treacherous trek, Platt invites you to eat what he ate, drink what he drank, see the faces he saw, and feel the emotions he felt at every turn. In the end, you will find yourself eye to eye with some of the most challenging needs in the world and face to face with the God who wants to use your life in greater ways than you could have ever imagined.

Reading this book is not risk free. It will leave you transformed and determined to take action. Because something needs to change!

Platt is admittedly being led by his emotions, something scripture repeatedly warns will lead us astray. I have long held that Platt is off message – I don’t look for anything to change in the September release of “Something Needs To Change.”

Resource links:

The https://radical.net/somethingneedstochange

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