David Platt Compels Christians to Counter Culture By Illustrating the Relevance of the Gospel to Every Modern Social Issue
A review of David Platt’s book: Counter Culture
by Madeline Taylor
Same-sex marriage, poverty, and racism dominate the media today. Across the gamut of social issues, it is tempting to hand pick and choose those which we will support and those which we would rather ignore. However, the Christian does not have this luxury of selection because the Gospel is relevant to all social issues.
With Counter Culture, David Platt seeks to demonstrate how “a full-orbed understanding of the gospel indissolubly brings together both radical care for the poor and radical opposition to abortion” and many other cultural issues currently affecting the church. Platt’s purpose is “to show how the gospel moves Christians to counter all these issues in our culture with conviction, compassion, and courage.”
Platt sets a foundation for the discussion in his first chapter outlining the details of the Gospel, illustrating how it remains the greatest offense to culture. According to Scripture, God is the creator, owner, and judge of every person, implying that there is a right, a wrong, and an ought in this world. Before a holy God, we are each and everyone guilty. The good news is that salvation is found in Jesus if we will repent from sin and believe in him. He asserts that these claims are far more offensive than any stance we would take in the discussion of cultural issues. They are also foundational to and necessary for informing our positions on cultural issues. Whoever believes receives the call from Christ not to cultural compromise but to counter-cultural crucifixion.
The Gospel compels each believer to act and within his book, Platt faithfully relays and obeys this truth. What makes the book truly significant, is his ability to take these ideas from mere concepts into the reality of daily life, in this case, his own life. Interwoven between the Biblical and philosophical reasonings, he includes his personal testimony of wrestling with each issue. For example in the chapter on poverty, Platt tells the story of how conviction from God’s Word led him and his wife to downsize their home. David Platt has a professional reputation for being “radical” and it overflows into his priorities for the new home. You have a seat at the table as Platt and his wife Heather make lists of what’s important for their home and with patience, they work out what it means to be obedient to a call to live simply in order to give sacrificially.
Platt walks us through the application of Gospel truths to eight of our culture’s most pressing issues. As the discussion moves to focuses on the needs of orphans and widows, Platt first acknowledges our sinful tendency to give attention and honor to those who have the most to offer us in return for our kindness. However, “true religion counters culture and results in sacrificially caring for those who can benefit you the least.”
To depict God’s model for the care of widows and orphans, Platt recounts the story of Ruth’s redemption. In order for Boaz to redeem Ruth, he needed to have the right, the resources, and the resolve to do so— the same is true for us. We have the right, or rather the responsibility, to help the orphan and widow because in Christ we are all made children of God— family. Secondly, we have each been equipped and resourced to help because God’s people are designed to be the caretakers of the orphan and widow. Finally, we must also have the resolve to redeem. This cannot be manufactured, but rather it is a result of understanding that Ruth’s story is truly our story. Christ’s sacrifice has redeemed us such that before we ever became rescuers, we were first rescued ourselves.
David Platt’s personal response to this revelation was to adopt orphans into his own family. When I finished this chapter, I closed the book and wrote a letter to my grandmother who was recently widowed. There is freedom in how we care for the orphan and the widow, but the Bible unequivocally models it for us and commands that we do so.
The book’s concepts combined with real life experiences will move you to action. After completing the book I could not help but to feel burdened to act in some way on behalf of the poor, the imprisoned, the persecuted, or the unreached. In response to feelings like these Platt writes, “Helping those in need does not consist of throwing our money at something; it involves investing our lives in someone.”
To help readers responsibly engage culture, he offers suggestions of ways to pray, participate, and proclaim at the end of each chapter. Furthermore he makes very clear, “I assure you I’m not profiting in any way off pointing you to these organizations— even my proceeds in this book are going toward spreading the gospel through ministries like these.”
When we understand that our starting point in culture, including you and me, is from a place of corruption in sin, it is no wonder that we’ve gone sideways. This book instructs the modern Christian how to confront social issues with integrity. For those who seek to think and live Biblically in our culture, David Platt’s Counter Culture is an indispensable resource.