Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age by David Platt is a non-fiction book about what the gospel tells us about numerous social and cultural issues we see all over the world. The book begins with an introduction asking “Retreat or Risk”? In it, the author brings to light how Christians have shied away from challenging the societal shifts towards sin. By silently sitting by, Christians are not loudly professing the teachings in the gospel. David Platt argues that if Christians continue to retreat, things will only get worse; he goes onto to stress that it is better to risk it and boldly proclaim what the Word says. The author points out that many who came before today’s Christians stood boldly against sinful societal norms and risked persecution and death.
The author breaks the book down by social topic and what the gospel says about it. The first chapter of the book deals with the gospel and culture; today’s culture has moved further away from the teachings of the Word. Today’s culture emphasizes material gain and personal pleasure or satisfaction; this is not the way God intended for his children to live. He expected we would share our riches with those less fortunate than us and in doing so, share the gospel with those we help. Platt points out how culture has labeled a lot of the Bible’s teachings on controversial social issues such as same-sex marriage, homosexuality, poverty, and many other issues as bigotry or hate speech. We know this couldn’t be further from the truth, but those with a limited understanding of God and the Bible are able to call Christians adhering to God’s word bigots. Mr. Platt shows how today’s cultures emphasize self rather than others to the point that some people will not do anything for the greater good, but because there is benefit to them for them doing it. The author strongly reiterates that this was not God’s intended purpose for man.
The second chapter delves into poverty; a few points on the topic that I found interesting are:
- Poverty is everywhere and American Christians should not turn a blind eye to it. God has called the church and Christians to care for those in need; the author expands on this reminding readers that God intends for us to help those that are responsible and truly in need.
- When Jesus speaks about the wealthy, he is referring to middle-class Americans too. He is not solely referring to people who make a certain dollar amount or salary to help the poor; the middle-class is expected to help as well.
- It’s important to invest ourselves into the people we wish to help; the author encourages Christians to do more than just throw money at a problem and do nothing else. He encourages Christians to take it a step further – not only should we provide monetary assistance, but also emotional and spiritual assistance by spending time with those less fortunate than us.
- God had not designed man and woman to accumulate AND hoard their wealth or riches after years of working to accumulate it; God expects those with “productive minds and bodies” to continue working in some capacity. This isn’t specific to a job where you earn a paycheck, you can become a volunteer after retirement, but the idea is God intended for those of us who are mentally and physically able to continue working for the expansion and glorification of his kingdom.
- Culture in America (and elsewhere) is growing increasingly more materialistic, self-centered and selfish. Everything we do has to benefit us in some way too or it’s not worth it. Platt argues that this kind of thinking is wrong and not Godly or biblical. He goes onto say that materialism and selfish thought processes completely misses and degrades the point of charity – genuine desire to help the poor.
Abortion, like murder and suicide, asserts human beings as the ones who control life and death.Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age, David Platt, p. 63
Chapter 3 addresses abortion; how does the gospel address abortion? Platt makes a clear and irrefutable argument against abortion and I’ve provided a few highlights from the chapter:
- The author points out that the word abortion is not mentioned in the Bible anywhere, “As you read through the Bible, you won’t find the word “abortion’ anywhere”. (p. 62)
- God forms a relationship with every baby he creates at conception. I found this point to be comforting and amazing; God forms a relationship with every baby he creates from the moment he creates them. This is a powerful relationship because this relationship is formed even prior to the mother’s relationship with the baby forming.
- God is the Creator and he alone has the power and authority to both give and take life. “Abortion, like murder or suicide, asserts human beings as the ones who control life and death”. (p.63)
- Abortion is “…an assault on his work in creation” (p. 63); imagine being God, blessing a couple with a baby that you develop a relationship with the minute of conception. Imagine that you are in the middle of molding and shaping this baby you created when all of a sudden the baby is ripped from it’s temporary home only to be murdered by it’s own mother and a doctor. Who are we, as humans, to make this decision for another human being? And who are we deluding by telling ourselves that God sees this as anything less than a sin threatening our very spiritual eternity and survival as a culture?
- Abortion is not a political issue – it is a biblical issue and Christians all over the world can not continue to be silent on this problem. Murdering a baby is no different from murdering a teenager, toddler or adult. Christians can not support this murderous practice; we should not be promoting it or encouraging it as a viable option for pregnancy. This practice should not be tolerated anywhere in the world.
- The key question surrounding the abortion debate in society is, “What is in the womb”? Mr. Gregory Koukl points out, “if the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary” (p. 65). Society’s argument is that it’s just tissue or a “bundle of cells”, but Mr. Koukl writes, “if the unborn is a human person, then no justification for abortion is adequate” (p. 66). That sums up the argument pretty well in my opinion.
- God gives authority to governing bodies because he created them. The government is supposed to AND should be expected to uphold the morality of society. Laws keep people (most people anyway) from committing heinous acts because there are laws outlining consequences that will be enforced on anyone breaking the law. Christians are expected to obey the laws of the land they live in as long as those laws don’t go against God’s commands for man. The author points out, “It’s moral silliness and cultural suicide to say that government shouldn’t take away people’s right to choose” (p. 73).
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one ho is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good.Romans 13:1-4
In the next chapter, the author explores the gospel’s teachings regarding widows and orphans. Mr. Platt points to God’s compassion towards orphans and widows and here are some points he makes:
- God defines pure religion this way, “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27).
- Platt uses the story of Ruth to demonstrate how God takes care of widows and orphans.
- The author reminds readers that there are many ways to show compassion and to demonstrate God’s love for the orphan and widow without having to adopt or foster them. You can support these causes in other ways that are still valuable to this community.
- Orphans and widows were never meant to be social outcasts – isolated from society and forgotten by society.
Chapter five addresses sex slavery and trafficking; I’ve highlighted a few points:
- Sex trafficking and slavery is a major, global problem Christians can’t ignore.
- It’s important to understand that the only owner of humans is the Lord; and because of this truth, we are granted equal dignity in the eyes of the Lord.
- Every person is created in God’s image, by God himself; therefore, no man or woman is superior or inferior to another man or woman.
- Slavery flies in the face of God’s authority – God is the master of the Universe and never intended for humans to mistreat each other. We are to care for each other the way God cares for each of us.
- Don’t forget that sex slavery and sex trafficking are closely tied to pornography. Anyone who purchases or distributes pornography is indirectly supporting the sex trafficking and slavery trade. All parties involved are guilty of this sin – the participants, producers, and consumers.
- God values everyone; no person becomes less worthy. Because of God’s love, grace and mercy, Christians are compelled to act and not remain silent on this issue.
The first chapter of the Bible tells us that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age, David Platt, p. 122
The next chapter covers the gospel and marriage; the author points to some alarming societal trends in relation to marriage and provides a biblical definition of marriage (which is the only definition that matters). Here are some highlights:
- In order to frame marriage correctly, we have to understand sexuality. God created man and woman – they are equal to each other but have differences that complement each other. They are to come together to be one flesh.
- God ordained marriage as an institution between man and woman. God created marriage as a way for us to show how much he loves us to the world every day. The Bible teaches husbands to love their wives as Jesus loved the church and calls for wives to love their husbands as the church loves Jesus.
- Husbands are expected to lead the household and wife is expected to support the husband in his leadership.
- Platt points out the institution of marriage was first attacked by the serpent in Genesis chapter three. God creates Adam and tell him not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then God creates woman as a companion and helpmate for man; the serpent doesn’t approach Adam with his question about God’s command, he approaches Eve. When the serpent did this, he disrupted God’s divine order and caused confusion over the institution of marriage. Who should lead? Adam did not help when he didn’t speak up on behalf of his wife to answer the serpent’s question.
- Platt points out that the Bible specifically states that husbands should love their wives and that wives need to respect their husbands. This implies that women need to feel loved while men need to feel respected.
- Society can’t change the definition of marriage and all who played a part in its destruction will be held accountable by the Lord.
- Divorce rates are increasing and number of couples cohabiting has also increased over the years. Marriage is not held in the same high regard it used to be. The value of marriage no longer exists in society and many young adults are opting out of getting married for various reasons. However, Platt argues that getting married is one of the most important things a Christian can do as marriage is part of God’s grand design or divine plan.
Chapter seven discusses the gospel and sexual immorality which seems to be rampant all over the world. The author points out:
- Our culture is moving swiftly towards forms of sexual immorality including, but not limited to homosexuality, pornography and prostitution. God condemns all forms of sexual immorality – which is defined as sexual activities, thoughts, speech, desires, etc. outside of a marriage between a man and woman.
- Sexual immorality includes adultery, prostitution, bestiality, homosexuality, pornography, incest, pedophilia and more.
- God makes it clear that our bodies do not belong to us; they belong to God who created us. He designed our bodies for him and he is for our bodies. The scripture points out that God is the only way our bodies will be fully satisfied. God knows better than anyone what will fully satisfy our bodies, but also how to do it.
- We are all sexual sinners; it’s in our nature, but our job is to turn to God and away from our sinful nature.
- The truth is the only correct or right sexual relationship is between man and woman. No other relationship is pleasing to God and he would rather Christians stay single focused on glorifying him rather than falling into sexual sin.
- Those with gender identity problems or dysphoria are questioning God’s judgment and authority as the Creator of all things. God can’t and doesn’t make mistakes, therefore if you’re born a girl then you’re meant to be a girl. Likewise, if you’re born a boy, you’re meant to be a boy – make no mistake about it. Similarly, since God is incapable of making mistakes, he would never create a child with the purpose of having that child be homosexual when they get older. The “I was born that way” excuse society offers is a fallacy.
Chapter eight delves into the gospel and ethnicity; in this chapter Platt talks about how God celebrates cultural and ethnic differences between people. Here are some points:
- God created all humans in his image – he didn’t create “race” as we think of it today or as it’s used in society. God created only the human race and that is what he sees when he looks at us.
- God created all of us differently because God’s message of love transcends countries, languages, cultures, religions, etc. Therefore, God celebrates the differences between males and females as well as humans of different ethnicities.
- God holds the “sojourner” close to him like he does the orphan and widow. He looks to help and protect the sojourner and Christians are expected to exemplify God’s love, grace and mercy to those of different backgrounds from ourselves. Diversity is good.
- It’s extremely difficult to tie people to one specific ethnic group as more and more people are a mixture of at least two. It’s easier for all of us to identify has humans rather than specific “races” society attempts to label us with.
- Christ expects all people groups to know of him; there are estimates that billions of people on earth still haven’t heard about Christ’s love for them and desire to save their lives. Platt asserts that it is a Christian’s duty to profess the good news and to allow God to lead them in their role to ensuring this happens.
There is more in this chapter and the author provides scriptural references to support his points. There is a lot of information in each chapter and it is worth reading more than once.
Chapter nine is the gospel and refugees; here are some interesting points:
- We are dealing with one of the largest refugee crises in the history of the world.
- God cares for refugees with the same compassion he shows widows, orphans, the poor, disabled and children.
- Spending time helping refugees presents a unique opportunity for Christians to share the story of Christ and how he died on the cross to die for the sins of everyone because of how much he loves us. This message of hope, love and salvation is just what refugees need to hear the most.
- Christians should exemplify God’s love, grace and mercy in each interaction they have with others and in their decision making.
One need not believe the gospel in order to recognize that faith must be free in order to be genuine.Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age, David Platt, p. 241
Chapter ten covers the gospel and religious liberty which is under attack here in America and doesn’t exist in many places on earth. Religious liberty is the ability to practice privately and publicly the religion of your culture or choice. However, more and more, Christians in America and other western societies are being told they can practice their religion privately, but are not allowed to practice their religion publicly. Here are some notes:
- God granted humans free will to make their own choices. Religious liberty is a God-given right so that he can be glorified with people practicing other religions realize they would rather serve and living God. This liberty should not be taken away because what the Bible says offends sinners.
- Since religious freedom is granted to humans by God it is up to each person to protect and defend those liberties for everyone. Since God created and authorized governments to protect and serve their communities, it is the government’s duty to protect the people’s right to this freedom.
- Platt points out how the outward show of faith and Christianity is under attack in America. How time and again, courts and judges, have ruled that individuals can practice their religion freely in private such as at home and in church. However, that right or freedom is not extended to their behavior in business or place of employment.
- The author also highlights how anytime someone publicly professes the story of Christ and begins speaking the truth of the Word, they’re met with persecution, ridicule and even hate.
- Many are intolerant of Christianity and the many teachings in the Bible.
There is a lot of information shared in the book; the topics are covered in an organized and thorough method making the book easy to follow and break down. I ordered this book out of curiosity of how the gospel addresses each issue. The author does a great job of presenting the information using clear language, provides experiences and/or examples from Scripture to support his point. The book concludes with a call to action by the author; he wants Christians to commit to following the biblical teachings regarding social and cultural shifts happening all around us even if it means going against popular thought, being called names and being cast out by society. Platt argues that God never intended for Christians to sit on the sidelines to watch people all around us sin or to know that there are people out there who don’t even know who Christ is.
And may we remember with the great cloud of witnesses that has gone before us that while our citizenship belongs to a government, our souls belong to God.Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age, David Platt, p. 258
I liked the book and think the author made some valid points. I think he raised some interesting questions and brought out some harsh, but necessary truths. I would recommend this book to anyone who, like me, is curious to learn how the gospel addresses these same issues we are grappling with in our culture today. I also recommend it to any Christian who could use some guidance regarding the gospel and today’s controversial social issues. I did not find this book in my local libraries or used bookstore so I jumped online to order it from Barnes and Noble, the book costs $15.99 for paperback edition or you can get it for $10.87 on Amazon.
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