Thinking Out Loud

November 4, 2013

Truth in Advertising

On Wednesday last week, Dee and Deb at the investigative blog, The Wartburg Watch, uncovered an August blog post by Todd Wilhelm who lives in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, titled Truth in Advertising.  It seems that back in the summer, American author and pastor David Platt flew to Dubai to record a four-hour seminar for simulcast in the U.S. similar to his “Secret Church” events which have been so successful.

David Platt

David Platt

I became a fan of David Platt after reading and reviewing his book Radical, and have followed his blog and sermon podcasts from The Church at Brook Hills ever since. But a switch from Multnomah to Tyndale Publishing prevented me from reading his sophomore title, Follow Me. After a week of craziness involving MacArthur, MacDonald, Jenkins and Driscoll; I really need some authors I can believe in and fully endorse. But alas, the article by Wilhelm undermines my confidence.

As an indigenous resident of UAE, Todd Wilhelm has an inside track that allows him to see the marketing of the simulcast a little differently.

  • First, it wasn’t a true simulcast.
  • Second, it wasn’t filmed in a “secret location,” but at the Marriott.
  • Third, Wilhelm thinks the location was drummed up to give the event more ‘intrigue.’

On the latter point, he writes:

It may create a buzz amongst American Christians to think that David Platt is risking his life by taping a program in Dubai to be shown at a later time, but let’s call it what it is – a cheap publicity stunt that plays fast and loose with the truth in an attempt to boost book sales.  It cheapens Christianity and makes a mockery of those who are actually facing persecution for their faith.  David Platt should be ashamed of himself.  He faced no danger flying into Dubai to tape his message at the Marriott Hotel.  I, as a Christian in Dubai, face no danger to my life.  I am fortunate to be able to live in a Muslim country that allows me such freedom – thank God for that.

and again,

Lastly, they claim this “undisclosed location” was one “where proclaiming Jesus could mean literally losing your life.”  I am happy to say no one involved in David Platt’s presentation in Dubai on the evening of August 14th lost their life, nor was there ever any danger of doing so because of “proclaiming Jesus.”


All this to say that, in my opinion, David Platt and LifeWay Christian Resources are attempting to boost sales of Platt’s most recent book and accompanying study manuals by creating an aura of cutting-edge excitement based on number of things which just are not true.

It’s good to know that everyone made it out of the Marriott alive, and hopefully before the pool closed.

I read a story like this and immediately, my go-to response is that Platt has more integrity than to be mixed up in all this. I blame the Baptist cash cow called LifeWay for this.  But my opinion of Lifeway has never been very high.

You can go back to the first paragraph for the links on this one… I’ll end this where Todd Wilhelm wisely began:

“For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:17)


  1. This is why the integrity found in the classic writers is what still draws us. All these modern ones (save a seldom few – the ones who DON’T make it big …. hmmm, coincidence? Connection?) end up doing something off the wall. Out of line with Scripture. Whether it’s too big a house, an asinine comment about the president, a ‘radical’ statement that gets everybody worked up – high exposure leads to bigger boo-boos, it seems.

    Dig into C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Richard Sibbes, A.B. Bruce, Alfred Edersheim, or even J.I.Packer. Nothing dramatic to draw you in – just quality writing, thought and exposition. New and Fresh ain’t always better. There are no ‘radical’ changes to Christianity coming in the western church. No ‘powerful movements of God’ a comin’. That’s a load of hooey. Where we’re ‘radical’ is in that we have lost touch with simple, down-to-earth, day-in-day out struggling through the drudgery of life type of Christianity that gives us hope when all seems hopeless. When all you’re left with is pain and suffering much of the time, just talking to God through it all seems pretty rad. When life is grey clouds (and surely a lot of it is) then Christ is the silver lining. He is not – in this life – the huge fireworks display that will blanket the city in a light that will lead to mass conversions. He is the quiet undercurrent that settles one’s nerves when there is no reason to feel settled. He is the tiny stream that provides a welcomed sip of water when it is needed most. This is the secret – the ‘radical truth’ – that the writers of old happened upon. Amen.

    Comment by Flagrant Regard — November 4, 2013 @ 9:34 am

  2. This makes me sad. I try not to make an icon out of anyone for this reason. I read “Radical” and loves the concept, but to tell you the truth I thought it was a little “look at me” in tone, so the article in your post kind of makes sense. But it still made me sad.

    Comment by Cynthia — November 4, 2013 @ 10:13 am

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