We are witnesses today to a massive culture shift. Things we used to hold sacred are now subject to mockery; evils we would never even have dreamed of are now regarded as normal and beautiful. And everywhere we look, Christians are on the front lines—whether they like it or not, they are on the front lines. They are on the front lines of the battle between traditional marriage and same-sex marriage; they are on the front lines of the battle for life in the womb; they are on the front lines of the battle against sex trafficking and pornography. Wherever our culture delights in evil, Christians are attempting to speak with clarity and authority.
David Platt has observed this culture shift and in his new book calls upon Christians to ensure they will not stand idly by. Counter Culture is, according to the subtitle, a “A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography.” Platt calls on Christians to wade into the cultural battlefield and to represent Jesus.
He begins with the gospel. He believes that the gospel is meant to compel the Christian to take action, saying “the gospel is the lifeblood of Christianity, and it provides the foundation for countering culture. For when we truly believe the gospel, we begin to realize that the gospel not only compels Christians to confront social issues in the culture around us. The gospel actually creates confrontation with the culture around—and within—us.” The gospel creates confrontation through its most outlandish and offensive claim:
[T]the most offensive and countercultural claim in Christianity is not what Christians believe about homosexuality or abortion, marriage or religious liberty. Instead, the most offensive claim in Christianity is that God is the Creator, Owner, and Judge of every person on the planet. Every one of us stands before him guilty of sin, and the only way to be reconciled to him is through faith in Jesus, the crucified Savior and risen King. All who trust in his love will experience everlasting life while all who turn from his lordship will suffer everlasting death.
With the gospel foundation in place, Platt sets out to draw attention to some of the most pressing issues of our day, and to show “how the gospel moves Christians to counter all of these issues in our culture with conviction, compassion, and courage.”
The heart of the book is a chapter-length examination of several major culture concerns: Poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, abortion, persecution, orphans and widows, and pornography. In every case Platt outlines the issue, shows how the gospel speaks to it, and then calls the Christian to action. He is a gifted writer and storyteller and often interweaves the chapters with tales of people he has met and situations he has encountered in his many travels. He is also a gifted theologian, and draws both deeply and accurately from the wells of Scripture. Inevitably some will wonder how this book compares to his bestselling book Radical, and I would say it has all the passion and intensity, but with far more nuance.
In the end, his call is both strong and convicting. Early in the book he lauds Christians for the ways they have already countered culture, but expresses this concern: “On popular issues like poverty and slavery, where Christians are likely to be applauded for our social action, we are quick to stand up and speak out. Yet on controversial issues like homosexuality and abortion, where Christians are likely to be criticized for our involvement, we are content to sit down and stay quiet. It’s as if we’ve decided to pick and choose which social issues we’ll contest and which we’ll concede. And our picking and choosing normally revolves around what is most comfortable—and least costly—for us in our culture.” He is exactly right, and in this book he brings needed balance, dwelling not only on issues that will earn applause, but also the issues that will earn criticism or even persecution.
Platt believes that “[t]he greatest way to achieve social and cultural transformation is not by focusing on social and cultural transformation, but by giving our lives to gospel proclamation.” I agree entirely. His hope for our generation is this: “May it be said of us that we not only held firm to the gospel, but that we spoke clearly with the gospel to the most pressing issues of our day.” Counter Culture will equip you to do that very thing.