Monday, October 12, 2015

BookPastor >> "Counter Culture" (David Platt)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on March 18th, 2015.


TITLE: Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography
AUTHOR: David Platt
PUBLISHER: Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015, (288 pages).

We are living in a culture where popular opinion speaks louder than truth. So says pastor and author of this new book about countering the cultural forces and principalities of today. Without guidance, many Christians are unwittingly letting their silence be a sign of weakness that they are indifferent to the major social issues of today. In fact, Platt takes to task those Christians who are lopsided in their lobbying, shouting on some issues but ignoring other equally if not more important matters. Sometimes, when Christians are being slammed by non-Christians for taking a biblical stand, the rest of the Christian community remain largely silent for fear of being slammed as well. In preferring to take a nonchalant posture, one asks where then is Christian conviction? Where is the courage to speak up? Where is the compassion to work through those victims of social injustice?

The nine issues highlighted are poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, persecution, abortion, orphans, and pornography. On Poverty, Platt was shocked to see the seriousness of cholera, and other debilitating diseases that the poor were unable to get treatment due to the lack of money. Contrast that with the wealthy part of the world that seems to turn a blind eye to the needs of the poor. The gospel is clear. We are called to do our part to distribute and share the wealth we have with those in need, and not to hoard it for our own consumption. For God, through Jesus has been extravagant in his time and care for the poor and needy. Why are we not following Christ's example? We are then called to live simply, give sacrificially, help constructively, and invest eternally. On Abortion, we need to avoid seeing it as a political issue but a biblical one. For life is sacred. Platt calls abortion a modern holocaust where 42 million unborn babies are terminated each year. He claims that abortion is an "affront to God's sole and sovereign authority" as Creator. Who gives man the right to kill? How can we terminate the creation of God in such a manner? Who gives us the right to determine which baby to live and which to die? He tackles some popular objections like free choice, privacy, and selfish motives.

On Orphans, readers learn about God's concern not only for the child but also for the widow or widower. The Bible has specific instructions for that. The trouble is, are we obeying them or finding ways to justify avoiding them? In one incident, Platt was so worked up by members who refuse to adopt because of biological bloodline concerns, that he spent time preaching against it by affirming Christ's line being more important. Christ's redemption stretches far and wide. On Sex slavery, Platt shares about how the vulnerable are being exploited. Sex trafficking does not happen only in developing countries in the East. It is very much alive in North America. Platt aims point blank at pornography, prostitution, and the sex trade and calls for Christians to fight against them by remembering that believers too were enslaved to sin. On Marriage, Platt treads cautiously but firmly in stating the biblical position of marriage being between a man and a woman. With rising cohabitation and tolerance toward same sex unions, he reminds us that the Bible clearly taught about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. The problem is because the Church herself has become deeply divided over the definition of marriage. This very division is already a major threat to the gospel. A counter-cultural marriage perspective is for couples to learn to love one another as Christ loved them. Platt affirms the sanctify of marriage between a man and a woman, and aims at how to build such a relationship in an environment of love and respect.  The next chapter on Sexual Morality touches on the hot topic of same-sex marriage. Many people do not know how to respond to people's confession about their homosexuality. What does the gospel has to say about same sex attractions? While it is true that God has blessed us with our sexualities, it is also true that we are to glorify God with our bodies. For the body is not our own but the Lord's. So cherish it as honouring the Lord, not people. Not only that, adultery is wrong. Lust is wrong. Sexual immorality is also wrong. He spends a lot of time describing the need to be clear about the biblical stand and to stop rationalizing what the Bible did NOT say. On Racism, he asserts the need for the Church to be colour blind. This is also a very important point for churches to note. God did not call us on the basis of skin colour. God calls us on the basis of human beings. On Immigration matters, he urges us to see illegal immigrants not on the basis of their status but as people to be loved. It is also a humble reminder that we or somewhere in our ancestry line, we are all immigrants in one way or another.

Each chapter ends with a call to Prayer, a challenge to participate, and a summon to proclaim the gospel. The most urgent need is to proclaim the pure gospel and not to be overly distracted by any one social issue. This is important because anybody can do social justice in the name of good works. Christians are to do good works in the Name of Christ, by proclaiming the Eternal Christ beyond simply earthly sustenance.

Boldly written, this book is David Platt's version of speaking the truth in love. Tackling nine hot potato issues, Platt, author of Radical has taken up the challenge of speaking out boldly on all of them. After all, countering culture is never easy. It is always costly. What matters more is not about cost or sacrifice, but about glory, God's glory.  The foundation of all Christian responses is the gospel that cares enough to confront, and confront in a manner that cares. For right from the beginning in Genesis, the Word of God is an affront to the pagan cultures of the ancient world. Man has always been in danger of taking godless worldviews that basically renders all things subject to one's personal opinions. There is the sin of selfishness. There is the sin of worldliness. There is the sin of disbelief. People who truly believe in the gospel will tend toward compassion, conviction, and courage. That is Platt's point of view. For the greatest offense is actually not about the world reacting against our stand. It is God being angry at us for failing to be obedient to our calling to be salt and light of this world.

Come to think of it, we are increasingly in a position where if we do nothing, the enemy will eventually attack us. That is why Platt's book is a clarion call for us to be ready and to speak the truth with the compassion of love. We cannot hide our light under the pillow of minding our own business. Neither can we store away our salt in the secluded and safe corners of our church buildings. We are called to be in the world proclaiming Christ in Spirit and in Truth. Christians who fail to take action are sitting ducks for an eventual onslaught by the enemy. Even if those of us are timid and fearful, at least do not sit passively on the sidelines when our brothers or sisters are being attacked for maintaining a biblical view. Stand in solidarity with them. Remember the last beatitude of Jesus?

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." (Matthew 5:11)

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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