Thursday, February 17, 2011

The "Village" of "Radical" "Crazy Love"

Thoughts on David Platt , Frances Chan, and Matt Chandler.  
(I came up with this blog title by combining Chandler's church's name-"The Village Church", Platt's book "Radical", and Chan's book "Crazy Love"...I know, kind of cheesy, but its the best I could come up with-lol).  For those unaware of who they are, these 3 young pastors are currently taking the younger generation of American Christians by storm, including protestants, evangelicals, and reformed believers, and they have a passion and zeal for the Glory of Christ that has been lacking among our young people in recent years.

Rest assured-I admire, respect, and recommend reading and listening to each of these young men of God.  The questions and topics of discussion put forth in this blog are meant to be constructive and in no way disrespectful to these guys, who are part of the next generation of Godly men who will hopefully be leading people in this country and people from all parts of the world to saving faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
One thing I want to commend them for is that they all, for the most part, preach the Sovereignty of God in a mighty way.  Platt, Chan, and Chandler lift Jesus higher, and put man lower, (like John the Baptist said-He must increase and I must decrease) more so than many of the authors and preachers that are so popular today.  They are, in my opinion, worlds ahead of pastors like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Osteen, etc., and authors like John Eldredge, Philip Yancey, etc., some of whom like to lift man higher and bring God lower, just the opposite John the Baptist's statement.

That being said, many of my younger Christian friends, some of whom are not (although a few are) as fond of reading or listening to the older/wiser/more mature Pastor/Theologians of our day as I am, such as John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Alistair Begg, R.C. Sproul, John Piper, etc., (just to name a few) have been highly recommending that I read and listen to some younger preachers like Platt, Chan, and Chandler.  I love to read and listen to good theology, sermons, books, etc., so in order to see what they're seeing, and hear what they're hearing, I've read Chan's book "Crazy Love", and listened to well over 100 sermons combined from all three of these guys, especially Platt and Chandler on MP3 over the last year or two.  So I'm not writing from a non-informed perspective.  I really like all three of them, have learned from and been blessed and challenged by them, and think God is greatly using them.  They are greatly glorifying Jesus, but I can see a few areas in each of them that needs some maturing. I hope as they continue to grow, they will look to the older men of God of our day for wisdom, and read, study, listen to their sermons, read their books, commentaries, etc., as well as the "dead theologians" such as the Reformers like Luther, Calvin, John Knox, etc., the later Puritans like Charnock, Baxter, Flavel, Owen, Henry, etc., and later men like Whitfield, Edwards, Spurgeon, missionaries like William Carey, Adoniram Judson, etc.,  and more recently deceased preachers and authors like D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones, James Montgomery Boice, Donald G. Barnhouse, A.W. Pink, etc., just to name a few.

Another young minister, who I think is somewhat more mature and discerning at this stage in his walk than these other 3 guys, Kevin DeYoung- Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan wrote an excellent review on David Platt's new book, "Radical".  He and Platt are friends, and Platt was given an invitation to write a response after his review.
I started to write a comment on his blog, but it quickly became too long. I decided to post my comment here, where I had more room. Please read Kevin DeYoung's gracious review, and David Platt's gracious response first.
Here's the link.

Now, here's what my comment was going to be before deciding to just post it here:

Thanks for the excellent review, Kevin.

I'm in full agreement with you, and have the highest respect for Dr. David Platt. I've not read his book in it's entirety, but I've skimmed it, and have listened to all of Platt's sermons on MP3 that the book was taken from, plus dozens more, after a few younger guys at church recommended him. I, like you, think the Lord has and will continue to use him in a mighty way for His Glory. He has a great passion and zeal for Jesus Christ that many of us would do well to learn from and emulate.

However, I feel he, Frances Chan, and a few others of the younger generation have some maturing to do. My pastor addressed this topic a few weeks ago in the morning sermon, and said he sees a "pride of poverty" in their message. My pastor wisely said (paraphrasing) "if these guys down-size and give everything away, they've only shifted the burden to someone else to take care of their needs." I agree, and also get the sense they think "one size fits all" in how each of our lives lived for Christ should look. I got the sense from David Platt's sermons that if you were in Platt's church, and didn't down-size and sell your house, AND move into the "housing project" so you could evangelize the poor people from the inside-out, like many of the members were already doing, and encouraging the rest to do, AND adopt at least one child from a 3rd world country, AND get rid of every non-essential you owned, would have tremendous peer pressure from within his church making you feel spiritually inferior, guilty, and less than "radical".

I also recently listened to several dozen MP3 sermons of another big name with the younger generation, Matt Chandler. He's a great young man of God, with a passion and zeal for Christ like the other guys mentioned. My prayers are with him with his cancer, and his faith exhibited through this time is truly inspiring. But one thing I noticed in his sermons seemed to go along with that mentioned above. He seemed to be overly bragging on the "modesty" of his small house, and seemed almost prideful in bragging on himself for driving an older worn out vehicle. And he seems to encourage "tatooes", saying "Jesus has a "cool-tatt", then uses Revelation's passage of Jesus coming on the white horse for his proof-text. He did this in not one, not two, but in multiple sermons which I listened to on MP3.  I thought "this is very strange, what's his infatuation with defending tattoes so often"?  He seems to be really stuck on promoting/endorsing/condoning tattoes, probably because most of the people he deals with has them, and he feels the need to be "relevant" (although I'm not really sure why, just a guess). I realize a lot of people make or have made stupid mistakes pertaining to tattoes which they can't erase later when they surrender to Christ, but that's a lot different than promoting it to Christians as an acceptable Christ-like practice after salvation.  Again, I've heard him do this several times in different podcast sermons, not just once. Chandler also arrogantly brags repeatedly on their church meeting in an old Albertson's grocery store/warehouse instead of a traditional church building, like that makes them more spiritual and in more favor with God or something.   He seems to have a major problem with church buildings. I've heard Chandler, Chan, and Platt speak negatively repeatedly about churches who meet in buildings on numerous occasions. I"ve heard Chandler (or Platt, can't remember which) preach a passage on Solomon's temple, and totally miss the whole point of the passage, and instead tried to use it as a way to bash modern church buildings while patting themselves on the back for meeting in a warehouse.  Quite a stretch of the text.  Didn't use exegesis at all, but complete eisogesis.
As to Frances Chan, I bought the book "Crazy Love", because it was being promoted by people in my church, and the book itself was later taught in a classroom setting.  I read it, underlined many things that I questioned, but didn't mention them to anyone, trying not to be devisive.  Then one evening my wife and I sat down to discuss it, and guess what?  She had marked the same things that I had.  Without going into much detail, the first thing we both had marked was where Frances Chan said (paraphrasing) that if we as the Church will do our job, we can literally wipe out poverty worldwide. I understand and appreciate his concern for the poor, and I'm aware that we as individuals as well as the Church as a whole could do better in this area, but, I also read in Scripture where Jesus said "the poor you will have with you always".  I'd like to ask Frances what does "always" mean?  I think it's another example of their immaturity, and how naive they are.  

Hopefully, if they will keep the humble perspective as David did in his response to your review, the Lord will continue to mature them to be used for His Glory in a mighty way.
ClJ. Mahaney's website had these good quotes by Kevin DeYoung.
• Our generation in particular is prone to radicalism without follow-through. We want to change the world and we have never changed a diaper.
• Can we be the young generation that loves and respects and looks up to the older generation?


  1. Hmmmm....
    Deuteronomy 15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

  2. Thanks for commenting, "Anonymous". This O.T. Scripture verse from Deuteronomy agrees with Jesus' N.T. statements:

    "For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have Me." Matthew 26:11 (ESV)

    and again:

    "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have Me." Mark 14:7 (ESV

    My comments about Chan and the poor may be misunderstood. I'm all about helping the poor, widows, orphans, and any other "good works" we can do as Christians, and I commend Chan for his zeal in doing so.

    My original point was not that we shouldn't do these things, but that we will never completely "wipe out" or "eradicate" these things on this fallen earth in which all of creation groans for its redemption, during this age according to Scripture. That will only be brought to an end fully and completely in the "new Heavens and new earth" spoken of throughout Scripture.

    Just to clarify again, I think all these guys I spoke about in the post are great men of God, and I highly respect and appreciate their ministries. I've watched, read, and listened to more of Chan's sermons, teaching, and books since I wrote this, and feel he's growing and maturing. I'm especially encouraged by his book discussing the reality of eternal Hell as taught in Scripture, in response to Rob Bell's denial of it.

  3. AnonymousJuly 03, 2014

    " I think all these guys I spoke about in the post are great men of God, and I highly respect and appreciate their ministries".

    How about just leaving them to their ministries of preaching the word and Jesus? I don't feel it healthy to be having these discussions about our brothers...

  4. I think that Chan is exactly right. If we the church did do our job and fully obeyed Christ, we truly could wipe out poverty. But, and according to Jesus himself, the poor will always be with us because we will never fully obey him collectively. He knows that, but that doesn't mean we don't do our best. I think your perspective AND Chan's perspective are absolutely correct.

  5. I agree with you Don. I was a member at Platt's church for over a number of years before leaving in the wake of the Radical Experiment. There wasn't peer pressure from other members to be "Radical," as I recall, but the prevailing theme of Platt's preaching was that Radical Christianity isn't a personal calling, but an imperative for every believer. In fact, if you're not giving away all your excess wealth (assuming you have any), you must not really be saved. That was Platt's message. And that's why we eventually left his church.

    So I have to disagree with anyone who says it's not healthy to discuss these matters about pastors or anyone with a high profile who claims to speak the truth of the Gospel. The church MUST have these discussions, to prevent heresy from taking root. While Platt, Chan, and Chandler have become famous for the message they preach, a sizable number of Christians have attempted to live out that message, and found themselves further from Christ than ever before. It may help some believers, and harm others. It's not a one-size-fits-all. We all come to the table with different backgrounds, learning styles and weaknesses. Selling all your stuff isn't going to do it for every single person, just like Jesus didn't tell every single person to sell all they have.

    I wish there was more balance allowed in these discussions, instead of a blind defense of pastors who happen to find publishers for their viewpoints.