Book Review: Counter Culture




We cannot pick and choose which issues we will address and which we will be silent on.” David Platt, Counter Culture  

Don’t buy this book or read this book unless you are ready to make some radical changes in the way that the Gospel impacts your life and those God has placed in relationships with you.

Counter Culture by David Platt is a much needed resource for Christians who want to dive deeply into God’s word regarding some of the pervasive issues in our culture.  What is a Christian’s response and responsibility in issues such as poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, persecution, abortion, orphans and widows, and pornography?  We can’t stay silent…that’s a statement in and of itself.  Now, more than ever, we are making a statement in the way that we love our neighbors and dive into these issues with the foundation of the gospel and a commitment to grace.

I highlighted several things while reading and separated them by the categories that Platt divided the book into.  However, I’d really recommend that you pick up your whole copy.  This is a book that I honestly could have highlighted the entire thing.  But…more importantly, this is a book that drove me back to God’s word to seek His truth through Scripture.  Even David Platt would be quick to say not to believe him at his word…but put these issues to the test in the pages of Scripture.  In the acknowledgements at the back of the book, Platt closes with a statement that I hope is true for all of us…

My singular prayer is that his grace toward me might be to great effect for him (John 3:30).

My highlights are posted below…

In a world where everything revolves around yourself—protect yourself, promote yourself, comfort yourself, and take care of yourself—Jesus says, “Crucify yourself.  Put aside all self-preservation in order to live for God’s glorification, no matter what that means for you in the culture around you.”
  • The gospel is the lifeblood of Christianity, and it provides the foundation for countering culture.  For when we truly believe the gospel, we being to realize that the gospel no only compels Christians to confront social issues in the culture around us.  The gospel actually creates confrontation with the culture around—and within—us.
  • God’s goodness is expressed in his justice.  “The Lord judges the peoples” (Psalm 7:8)
  • The temptation in the Garden was to rebel against God’s authority and in the process make humans the arbiters of morality.
  • If God simply overlooks sin, then he would be neither holy nor just.
  • The gospel claims that eternity is at stake in how you and I respond to Jesus.
  • May we not sin through silence.  May we realize that not to speak is to speak.  Ultimately, may it be said of us that we not only held firm to the gospel, but that we spoke clearly with the gospel to the most pressing issues of our day.
  • The gospel of Christ is not a call to cultural compromise in the face of fear.  It is a call to countercultural crucifixion—death to self in the face of earthly opposition for the sake of eternal reward.
  • If the love of God is in our hearts, then it is not possible for us to ignore the poor in the world.  The gospel compels Christians in a wealthy culture to action—selfless, sacrificial, costly, countercultural action—on behalf of the poor.  For if we don’t act in this way, then it may become clear that we were never Christians in the first place.
  • Growth in the Christian life often begins with obedience even when acute desire is not present.
  • The entire concept of saving money so that we can live a life of ease and self-indulgence has no biblical foundation whatsoever.
  • What would happen if we let the sacrificial love of Christ for us in the gospel create in our lives, families, and churches a sacrificial generosity toward Christian brothers and sisters who are in dire need around the world?
  • Make a list of your talents and assets, and consider some of the global needs mentioned in this chapter.  Is there any place where your resources and the world’s needs intersect?
  • I am a follower of Christ, and I am confident of this: the God of the gospel has a proven track record of working all things, including evil things, for his good purposes.  He took Joseph’s brothers’ attempt to murder him and turned it into the preservation of multitudes of people.  He used incest to eventually bring about the very birth of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:3).  Ultimately, God took the murder of his Son and turned it into the means of our salvation.
  • What matters is what we’re choosing.
  • We cannot pick and choose which issues we will address and which we will be silent on.
  • He forgives entirely, he heals deeply, and he restores completely.
  • Every one of these children is worth it.  May we have the conviction, compassion, and courage to do everything we can to stop the modern holocaust around us.
  • “A father to the fatherless; a defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling.”  Psalm 68:5
  • “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  James 1:27
  • Just consider the requirements of a redeemer and how they parallel the reasons why those who have been grafted into the family of God are compelled to come alongside orphans and widows.
  • Regardless of what this means for each of our lives, as a people captivated by the love of the Father in heaven, we are compelled to show his love to those without family on earth.
  • A redeemer could have the right and the resources—the responsibility and ability—to care for the destitute, but in the end a redeemer also needed the resolve to do something for them.  Such resolve cannot be manufactured by mere numbers, statistics, or stories of need.  The only reservoir from which such resolve flows is the fountain of God’s love revealed in the gospel.
  • So now it just makes sense that men and women who have been captivated by the mystery of God’s mercy might be compelled to give themselves to the ministry of God’s mercy.  Compelled to care for the orphan and the widow in our churches and around our world through a variety of different means.
  • At the end of the day, God delights in displaying his majestic mercy in seemingly desperate situations to seemingly destitute people.  Who can measure the massive postscript that might be written upon the pages of human history when all the stories have been told of how God’s people showed God’s compassion to the orphan and the widow in the world?  And who can imagine the myriad ways he might use you and me to write it?
  • Slavery still exists.  And now that I know it does, I have no choice but to do something about it.  Further, now that you know it does, you have no choice but to do something about it.
  • “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  Genesis 1:27
  • Scripture clearly considers any slavery that undercuts the value or dignity of any person as rebellion against God’s lordship, a violation of God’s law, and a denial of God’s love for every single person made in his image.
  • People are no inferior objects to be used and abused for selfish, sexual, sensual pleasure; they are equal image bearers of the God who loves and cares for them.
  • Fighting slavery begins with believing the gospel—with seeing that the good, holy, and loving Creator God alone is the Owner of all people.  Fighting slavery continues with applying the gospel—with living the truth that all people have been made in God’s image and thus are to be esteemed and never enslaved.  And fighting slavery requires that we proclaim the gospel—that we do all that we can to tell the utterly hopeless that ultimate hope is found in Jesus Christ.
  • For Christians, it is the portrait of Christ in the gospel that compels us to fight for the detonation and destruction of slavery in the world.  He is the pursuing Savior, and as men and women who are identified with him, we must pursue the enslaved.
  • Psalm 82:4 “Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
  • What has the Creator God said about marriage?  Have we turned aside from what he has said?  Does Christ’s death on the cross have anything to do with how we define marriage?  And what does it mean for followers of Christ to live in a culture that often defines marriage differently than the Bible does?
  • Near the end of Scripture, God refers to men and women as fellow “heirs…of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7)
  • “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Genesis 2:23
  • “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  Genesis 2:24
  • In the picture of marriage, God intends to portray Christ’s love for the church and the church’s love for Christ on the canvas of human culture.
  • Submission is not about denigrating the value of another’s life.  Instead, this biblical word means to yield to another in love.
  • The primary reason the gospel is not clear in marriage across our culture is that the gospel has not been clear in marriage across the church.
  • Yield to leadership in love, knowing that you are representing the church’s relationship to Christ.
  • As spiritual darkness engulfs the biblical picture of marriage in our culture, spiritual light will stand out even more starkly in the portrait of a husband who lays down his life for his wife and a wife who joyfully follows her husband’s loving leadership.
  • Hebrews 13:4 “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
  • God desires the best for us, and he has designed our bodies not just for his glory but also for our good.
  • We do not always choose our temptations.  But we do choose our reactions to those temptations.
  • “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Repentance is a costly call to fundamentally say no to who you are (in your sin) in order to find an entirely new identity in who he is.
  • For when we recognize that an everlasting heaven and an eternal hell are hanging in the balance, we realize it is not possible to believe the gospel and to stay silent on issues of sexual sin.
  • Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
  • We are a nation of unique people groups with diverse histories from different lands with distinct customs and even languages.
  • Some might say that in abandoning categories of black and white in discussions of race and racism, we’re trying to sweep under the rug centuries of history and oppression as if they never happened.  By no means!  Instead, by basing our dialogue more meaningfully on ethnolinguistic characteristics, we’re acknowledging those real centuries of history and oppression, combined with a host of other fluid factors that can’t be reduced to basic biology.  Moreover, in removing race and racism from the discussion altogether, we’re paving the way for us as one race to call racism what it actually is: sin borne in a heart of pride and prejudice.  And in doing this, we are now setting the stage for understanding how the gospel is uniquely able to foster powerful unity in the middle of pervasive diversity.
  • The gospel begins with a God who creates all men and women in his image and then diversifies humanity according to clans and lands as a creative reflection of his grace and glory in distinct groups of people.  In highlighting the beauty of such diversity, the gospel thus counters the mistaken cultural illusion that the path to unity is paved by minimizing what makes us unique.  Instead, the gospel compels us to celebrate our ethnic distinctions, value our cultural differences, and acknowledge our historical diversity, even forgiving the ways such history may have been dreadfully harmful.
  • The body of Christ is a multicultural citizenry of an otherworldly kingdom, and this alters the way we live in this ever-changing country.  By the sheer grace of God in the gospel, we are compelled to counter selfish pride and ethnic prejudice both in our hearts and our culture.  For after all, this is not the culture to which we ultimately belong.  Instead, we are looking forward to the day when “a great multitude that no one (can) number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9) will stand as one redeemed race to give glory to the Father who calls us not not sojourners or exiles, but sons and daughters.
  • Deuteronomy 10:19 “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”
  • It is an essential part of the human experience to ask and answer questions life Where did I come from?  Why am I here? and How should I live my life? and then to act in accordance with the conclusions.
  • “We will not…bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.  We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.” Manhattan Declaration, 2009
  • In a country where even our own religious liberty is increasingly limited, our suffering brothers and sisters beckon us not to let the cost of following Christ in our culture silence our faith.  May we not sit back and accommodate our culture in relative comfort while they stand up and counter their culture at great cost.  May we realize with them that privatized Christianity is no Christianity at all, for it is practically impossible to know Christ and not proclaim Christ—to believe his Word when we read it in our homes or churches, and not obey it in our communities and cities.  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.
  • Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”
  • 1 Peter 2:23 “When (Christ) was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”
  • Ultimately, I don’t want to waste the opportunities God has given me to live out the gospel by which God has saved me in the culture where God has placed me.
  • Are we going to choose comfort or the cross?  Are we going to settle for maintenance or sacrifice for mission?  And finally, will our lives be marked by indecisive minds or undivided hearts?
  • When we observe our churches today, do they look like groups of people who gather with one another as they give their lives to spreading the gospel among unreached people, impoverished communities, abandoned orphans, lonely widows, dying babies, sex slaves, and suffering brothers and sisters around the world?
  • For the greatest way to achieve social and cultural transformation is not by focusing on social and cultural transformation, 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.  The fruit of such salvation will be inevitable transformation—of lives, of families, of communities, and even of nations.
  • So do these things with the unshakable conviction that God has put you in this culture at this time for a reason. He has called you to himself, he has saved you by his Son, he has filled you with his Spirit, he has captured you with his love, and he is compelling you by his Word to counter our culture by proclaiming his Kingdom, not worried about what it will cost you because you are confident that God himself is your great reward.
  • Matthew 9:37-38 “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
My singular prayer is that his grace toward me might be to great effect for him (John 3:30).

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