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Book review: Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture

Keith A. Burton

 

In our world where a daily barrage of alarming headlines highlight the rapid decline of societal morality, David Platt issues a radical challenge to professed Christians. Rare in its authenticity, Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture shares not merely the theoretical musings of a contemplative theologian but a prophetic challenge to engage soci­ety based on the practical experiences of a submissive disciple. Platt reminds this generation of “Christians,” whose mores are increasingly aligned to dominant society, that “the gospel of Christ is not a call to cultural compromise. . . . It is a call to countercultural crucifixion” (22).

Fully transparent, Platt shares his own countercultural saga. When he and his wife allowed the gospel to penetrate their hearts, they voluntarily chose a simple life and took seriously the biblical mandate to become parents to orphans. He even acknowledged the racism within him as he made conscious efforts to become an agent of reconciliation.

Most of the topics in the book address the complicated fallout of sexual distortion in society. He not only addresses abortion and same gender relationships but deals with the terrible effects of pornography that manifest itself in the international sex slave trade. His treatment on the issue is infused with humility as he confesses that male heterosexuals are “responsible for the vast majority of sexual immorality in the world today” (165).

The other subtheme is the place of Christianity among other religions. Platt rightly applies the first amendment religious clauses in the Constitution of the United States as guarantees of the right for anyone to practice whatever faith they desire in this nation. However, his concern for religious liberty is by no means driven by a pluralistic view that elevates all religions to the same plane. On the contrary, he has become convinced that Christianity is the only true religion and urges believers to get serious about bringing the gospel to the two billion unreached people in the world (246).

Counter Culture contains a wonder­ful demonstration of the gospel in action. The gospel is too often viewed as a rational acceptance of certain creeds. While not dismissing the importance of doctrines, Platt challenges the church to a radical Christianity demonstrated in acts of compassion. Imagine how differently our faith communities would be viewed if every pastor and member decided to live the gospel. Of course, this will never happen unless individuals in the body of Christ make a conscious effort to discern God’s will by imbibing the content of the gospel.

Ironically, while impressively strong in describing the practical gospel, the author’s understanding of the comprehensive content of the gospel is highly questionable. It seems as if Platt’s compassionate call for Christians to involve themselves in ministries of compassion is under-girded by the fear of punishment from an inflexible God. In his understanding, God’s grace is limited only to those who actually hear the gospel, and others unfortunate enough to have been born in societies where they are never exposed to Christ are destined to an eternally burning hell. His politi­cal biases are also exposed when he appeals for his readers to vote for anti-gay-marriage candidates (154) but says nothing about siding with candidates who are concerned about the unequal distribution of wealth. These aberrations notwithstanding, this book is a compulsory manual for all leaders who wish to put their faith into action.

—Reviewed by Keith Augustus Burton, PhD, professor of theology, Oakwood University, Huntsville, Alabama, United States.

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