Book Review: Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age Pt. 2

Image Source: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41O76wsT0VL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Image Source: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41O76wsT0VL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

In the previous post, we laid out a quick review of the first five chapters of the book entitled Counter Culture by David Platt. Now, for the second part, we are going to tackle its remaining chapters.

In the sixth chapter, Platt tackles one of the most burning and divisive issue – the marriage debate. That is, while marriage today is classified to be under the whatever you want however you want mantra, he on the contrary lays out its biblical definition. Although the cost of doing so is to receive the label “bigot” who seeks to demean, disparage, humiliate, or injure especially those who promote same-sex relationships, he nonetheless shows that marriage should be defined by God who intends it to portray the relationship of Christ to his Church. In other words, marriage was not established by God haphazardly, but intentionally with a great purpose in mind. And only in the biblical definition of marriage we can find true intimacy and liberation, contrary to any version of it.

In the seventh chapter, Platt discusses about the issue of sexual morality. That is, contrary to the popular culture, our bodies were not only created by God, but also created for God (1 Cor. 6:13). Not for self-gratification but for God-glorification, which is the greatest way to experience satisfaction in our bodies. In result, God gave us boundaries to operate with because “he loves us and knows what is best for us.” On the other hand, whenever God prohibits, He is not acting as a kill-joy. Rather, “he is providing us with something better while also protecting us from something worse” (160).

In the same chapter, Platt also discusses the fact that God defines sex only in the context of marriage between a man and a woman to be truly enjoyed. That he created boundaries “to maximize the sexual experience in all of its richest meanings” (161). And that a major cause of sexual confusion among the people in various cultures is “the lack of loving leadership and selfless sacrifice in heterosexual husbands and dads” (165). Nonetheless, to those who have messed up sexually, there is a good news. God loves every sexual sinner. That in result of that love, He sent his Son to be nailed on the cross so that the sinner will be forgiven and thus walk in the newness of life, for he is now “bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20).

In the eight chapter, Platt sets a different direction to talk about the issue of race. He quotes Martin Luther King Jr. who came up with a conclusion about the convictions of the early Christians who deemed worthy to suffer for following their Savior: “In those days the Church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society” (188). Each person is created in the image of God and shares the same dignity before Him. That is, there is no one who is less or more human than the other. And it is with the lack of this understanding that will cause racial bias and prejudice. In short, racism itself is a sin. And God hates it (c.f., Eze. 22:29; Jer. 7:6; Zech. 7:10).

As Platt lays out, the gospel itself is a call to multi-ethnic community. It is a proclamation of “repentance and forgiveness of sins…in his name to all nations” (Lk. 22:47; see also Eph. 2:18-19). That is, Jesus did not come to be the Savior for one nation alone, but for all. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ” (Gal. 3:28, NIV). In result, this should also affect our treatment to the immigrants or foreigners. That is, they are not problems to be solved, rather they are people created in the image of God to be loved. For as Platt says, “in the end, we are all immigrant ourselves” (209). And the Bible talks about us being “sojourners and exiles” who “desire a better country” and are “seeking a homeland,” a “city that is to come” (1 Pet. 2:11; Heb. 11:13-14, 16; 13-14).

In the ninth chapter, Platt discusses the issue concerning religious liberty. He starts by laying out “one of the fundamental human freedoms” bestowed to us by God. And it “is the privilege of each person to explore truth about the divine and to live in light of his or her determinations” (215). That includes asking the questions related to our origin, meaning of life, and destiny. That is, there must be no coercion, but a free exercise of faith. Even Jesus himself did not coerce people to receive and submit to Him (see Lk. 10:51). Rather He invites them (c.f., Rev. 3:20). On the other hand, such freedom to exercise faith is not only limited to Christians. “One need not to believe the gospel in order to recognize that faith must be free in order to be genuine” (217). And it is one of the purposes of the government to protect the rights its people – including the religious ones. However, far from being protected, Platt documents several instances where that right had been undervalued. And those who exercise their Christian faith are sued and labeled as intolerant, offensive, bigot, or hateful. Or to go even further, a threat to humanity.

Nonetheless, Platt emphasizes Jesus’ promise – a promise that remains counter-cultural: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10). And quoting from the Manhattan Declaration: “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.”

In the last chapter, Platt lays out how the gospel compels us to reach out to the unreached. To deny oneself and to take one’s cross, and to follow Christ (Lk. 9;23). To face the trade-offs between comfort and the cross – and choosing the cross; between settling for maintenance and sacrificing for the mission – and choosing the mission. For although we know from the previous chapters “that as great as people’s earthy needs were, their eternal need was far greater” (243). That is, as Platt provocatively said: “Heaven and hell hang in the balance” (244). And the result of our gospel possession should nothing less than its proclamation. For addressing people’s physical needs while ignoring their ultimate need (i.e., relationship with God) is to miss the whole point of the gospel. As he says:

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 (245-6).

And we must decide – right away. Because when we don’t, we run the risk of allowing indecision to become our inaction. And before we even know it, our delayed obedience becomes disobedience.

Conclusion

In the face of a culture where the greatest sin is intolerance, this book stands out. It clearly lays out the foundation for countering the culture and what we can do about it. And as an avid reader and a passionate believer, I highly recommend this book.

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