Friday, February 10, 2017

Counter Culture, by David Platt

In 2015, David Platt published Counter Culture, a call for Christians not to conform to the world's views on a variety of issues, but to let their actions conform to the attitudes and teaching of Jesus and the Bible.  In this 2017 revised and updated version, Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age, he revisits much of the same content while adding relevant insights about current trends. At the time he was first writing the book, "the Supreme Court was about to consider arguments concerning same-sex marriage, and transgender sexuality was rarely even discussed.  Two short years later, so-called same-sex marriage has become law across the country, and the federal government now threatens to withhold children's education money from states who do not allow men who wish they were women to use public bathrooms alongside young girls."

As you can perceive from this selection, Platt is an unabashed conservative who holds to traditional Christian morality.  But Counter Culture is more than a simple "what conservatives believe" pamphlet. As Platt delves into the scriptural foundation for each of the stances he takes in the book, he gives a very personal spin. On each issue he tells how he has struggled to follow Christ's example. Further, he helps the reader by ending each chapter with steps to pray--suggestions for prayer time, to participate--ways the reader can be involved, and to proclaim--scriptures to mediate on regarding the issue of the chapter.

Overall, Platt maintains a very positive tone. He offers the hope of the gospel for those involved in sexual sin, for those struggling with materialism or poverty, for those in slavery. The weight of the issues he discusses began to feel very heavy, and our response, inadequate. But as he reminds us, "God alone is able to bear these global burdens." In his grace, he allows us to participate in his work.

His new chapter, which covers the current refugee crisis, seemed especially weighty.  Platt makes it personal, narrating the tale of families fleeing from war-ravaged Syria.  As we try to imagine what it would be like to live in their shoes, we can't help but wonder what we might do.  While Platt's presentation is particularly effective, it also reveals a weakness of his approach.  He's right that we need to pray, and that refugees are especially in need of the saving knowledge of Jesus.  And of course the material needs are tremendous.  The problem is transitioning to the public policy realm.  Given the need, does the United States have an obligation to assist 60 million refugees?  To welcome them into our country?  What if the expense is more than we can bear?  And is there any logistical possibility of resettling all those in need?  I'm not sure Platt has a great answer.

Even when he might fall short on policy recommendations, throughout Counter Culture, Platt never fails to keep the focus on Christ and the hope we have in him. We all have sinned, and are guilty of following culture on some or all of the issues he addresses. As we live to counter culture, we live to follow Christ. And as we do so, we recognize that the point is not to transform culture by focusing on these issues, but "by giving our lives to gospel proclamation--to telling others the good news of all God has done in Christ and calling them to follow him."

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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