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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"Counter-Culture, Revised Edition" (David Platt)

TITLE: Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age
AUTHOR: David Platt
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream IL: Tyndale-Momentum, 2017, (320 pages).

The world we live in is increasingly anti-Christian. Many of the traditional beliefs are being challenged. Literal understanding of the Bible is being pushed back by liberal inclinations. Same-sex marriages are not only becoming a right for many, some circles even see it as the norm and marriage as something less than ideal. It creates a false impression that what is termed legal is legitimate. Those who hold on to orthodox beliefs are becoming ostracized and ridiculed for being old-fashioned. How do we speak the truth in love? What does it mean to live as believers in an increasingly unbelieving world? What do we do with split opinions and old paradigms being overturned with erroneous thinking? For author David Platt, following Christ is increasingly becoming a call to live counter-culturally. Concerned with the tendency of many believers to flee or take flight of challenging circumstances, he exhorts us to risk it because it is worth it. Platt writes that this book is about:

"helping us think through how to live out that gospel in our lives, families, and churches in an age of sexual confusion, legal abortion, rampant materialism, violent racism, escalating refugee crises, diminishing religious liberties, and a number of other significant social issues. This book is about refusing to retreat from these realities, instead choosing to face them with a fearless faith that is full of hope in Christ and free to love even those who would belittle Christian belief."

He begins with the nature of man and sin. We are reminded that it is not the current state of Christianity that is the greatest offense to the world. The gospel is the greatest offense. It is sin in us that battles against the gospel in the first place and that causes all kinds of problems. Platt writes to three groups of people. The first are unbelievers in which he hopes will be open to the power of the gospel as he explains the meaning of the gospel. The second are "progressive Christians" who do not see the present world as anything dangerous or problematic. He wants them to refrain from calling themselves "Christians" until they are able to believe the gospel for what it is. The third are believers who need help in responding to the contemporary challenges of this age. In a call to conviction, he urges us to see the truth and the hold on to the truth fervently. In a call to compassion, he shows us to speak the truth in love. In a call to courage, we are urged to fight and not take flight in the face of challenges. He then leads us through several examples of how the gospel can respond to the many struggles in the world.

On Poverty, he tackles the rich-poor divide and connects it to our need to love our neighbours both the wealthy and the poor. We are called to work hard; to live simply; and to give sacrificially. On the last point, he remembers a moment in which he received a sacrificial gift of a small meager sum of money. It seems very little to him but it was given to him at a high cost to the members of the East Asian Church. We need to grow in wisdom on how to help constructively. We need to invest in eternal matters. On Abortion, we are reminded of the shocking cruelty to the unborn child and in Ps 139 God had already created life when in the mother's womb. The culture has shifted this understanding to treating birth only when the baby is out of the mother's womb. Everyone deserves to live because God has ordained life. On Widows and Orphans, we learn about how this segment of society has become disadvantaged in many ways and how we as believers can play our part in redemption for we too are redeemed people. The chapter on Sex Slavery is a problem that resides in places closer than we think. Modern slavery can be found not only in developing countries but in first world countries in the Western hemisphere. We can learn more about the reasons for such slavery in the first place and to seek ways to fight such trafficking. As gospel people, we have the responsibility to work toward the destruction of such slavery. Pray for those in the forefronts of ministries seeking the freedom of victims. Participate financially in giving to causes that help free the people. Proclaim the Scripture widely. On Marriage, Platt brings back the essence of what it means to be created male and female. In the face of cultural redefinition of marriage and sexuality, there is a need to shine light on the distortions that confuse our understanding. The crusade for sexual equality has marred the original pattern of marriage. Legal does not necessarily mean it is truth. On Sexual Morality, we see that the many redefinitions of sexuality come about because of corruption and distortion of God's original plan and purpose. True love has been manipulated and mangled due to the sinful nature that refuses to repent. Thus, sexual purity is increasingly out of vogue and unpopular. Platt calls for battle gear against pornography, promiscuity, polluted spirituality and all forms of sexual immorality. On Ethnicity, our starting point is not skin colour but at the Garden of Eden when man and woman were created in the image of God. Without the gospel, we are never able to be one in Christ. On Refugees, we need to think of the refugee crisis not according to our convenience but based on the conviction of Scripture that stands for all races, and not some privileged few. On Religious Liberty, we ponder about what true freedom actually means. Why are people living in free countries feel not free to speak the gospel? Why are people living in restricted access countries compelled to proclaim the truth in spite of the persecution?

In all of these chapters, there is a common framework of praying, of participating, and of proclaiming. Platt gives us a number of ways in which we can cultivate our conviction in the gospel, and to make a difference in the world today. When we venture out in bold faith, we let the gospel shine in ways that human efforts cannot achieve. This is what counter-culture is about. It lets God work in areas where we feel most helpless. The book comes out of a desire to equip believers to tackle boldly the many challenges to the gospel. It calls believers to let the gospel be the gospel. Culture may be a powerful influence but let the gospel be an even greater influence.

David Platt is President of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board. He is also pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, Alabama. He has previously written a bestselling book entitled, "Radical."

Resource: Counter Culture Book.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Tyndale Momentum, the non-fictional imprint of Tyndale House Publishers via NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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