Most who are familiar with David Platt know him from his breakout book, “Radical.” After reading Counter Culture, I believe I will have to pick up this book to read in the future. Platt has a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, a PhD, and became the youngest head pastor of a Mega Church in America, located in Birmingham, Alabama… all before he was 26. He is a brilliant man and theologian and his writing style reflects this.
Counter Culture must pick up where Radical leaves off. The subtitle for that particular book is: “Taking back your faith from the American Dream.” The thesis of Culture essentially asks, how do Christians respond to American ideals that deny the Gospel message? Platt’s introductory chapter outlines the Gospel message and why it is important to Christians. For the rest of the book, he demonstrates how Christians living in a perverse culture should approach a variety of issues looking through the lens of the Gospel. He takes us through: the world of poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, abortion, persecution, orphans and pornography (as the subtitle says).
This book has a tendency to be incredibly convicting. As authentic Christians, we perceive the world through a Christian worldview, a subject that is covered in Nancy Pearcy’s book, “Total Truth” (which I wrote a book review on last year) and is a theme of Dr. Al Mohler’s daily program, “The Briefing” (both of which I recommend you read/listen). When we see issues like sex slavery and poverty, we see them through the Christian worldview and we inherently know they are a result of a fallen world. However, the Bible and the Christian worldview tells us that we, as Christians, have a responsibility to respond to these atrocities. This is the disconnect between intellectual understanding and action. Often times when we see homeless people, we harden our hearts and tell ourselves, “I’m not going to help him out; he needs to get a job.” Political reasons often cloud our views of immigration when are commanded several times in the Bible to treat such people with compassion and love. While we may lament the tragic fact of sex slavery, very rarely do we do anything beyond having a sense of remorse for such evil’s in the world.
This is contrary to our purpose of being “salt and light” as Christians in this fallen world. Platt calls Christians to action with a series of challenges. He begins each chapter with a brief summation, usually of a real life example, of the issue. He then approaches the issue through the Gospel: why it is wrong and demonstrates this (typically) from a passage in the Bible. He moves to why this is important to Christians and how we should respond to it. At the end of each chapter, he has a list of things that we should be doing to act “countercultural”: Pray, Participate, and Proclaim. He also set up the website for the book to offer ways that you can get involved in these various areas.
This reminds me of the passage in Acts 17:6 where the text says, “And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.'” The Christians at that time acted in a way that was so against the norm of the culture, they believed they had “turned the world upside down.” This should be the pattern for all Christians in every culture. There are unique challenges in a nation of such luxury and idolatry as America and Platt expertly addresses some of those challenges. We are living in a nation on the cusp (if not already) of a “post-Christian” society and now more than ever we need to hold firm our convictions to be in the world and not of it. This is an excellent book and I highly recommend you read it!