David Platt’s Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (Multnomah Books, 2010) spent 105 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list and has sold more than one million copies, according to WaterBrook Multnomah. In his new book, Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography (Tyndale, Feb.) Alabama pastor Platt challenges Christians to stand up for their beliefs, no matter the cost.
What does countering culture mean to Christians today?
Everywhere we turn today, battle lines are being drawn—traditional marriage vs. gay marriage, pro-life vs. pro-choice, personal freedom vs. governmental protection. Right and wrong are no longer measured by universal truth but by popular opinion. As difficult conversations about homosexuality, abortion, and religious liberty inject themselves into our workplaces, our churches, our schools, and our homes, Christians are asking, 'How should we respond?' My aim in Counter Culture is to encourage and equip Christians to consistently and compassionately apply their faith to such issues as poverty, sex trafficking, marriage, abortion, racism, and religious liberty—knowing that sometimes our positions will not be popular, and understanding that Christian conviction may bring personal cost.
How has contemporary culture’s definition of “tolerance” affected how Christians choose to either speak up or stay silent?
Our culture has wrongly redefined tolerance as agreeing with political correctness. If you differ from what’s popular or politically correct, you’re automatically labeled intolerant. But that misses the point of tolerance, because tolerance necessitates disagreement. I don’t tolerate you if you believe exactly what I do. I tolerate you if we believe differently, yet I respect and value you anyway. I have Muslim friends whom I respect deeply but disagree with passionately. I believe Jesus died on a cross and rose from the grave; they don’t. That’s a significant disagreement--I would argue an eternally significant one--not just a matter of preference. Freedom of religion fosters disagreement about beliefs, while not taking away anyone’s dignity. We are increasingly losing that today.
Can Christians affect change in a culture that often labels them as bigoted because of their convictions?
Culture is made up of people, and what I’m saying in Counter Culture is that when Christians have the courage and compassion to apply their convictions to everyday life, particularly when it comes to the most pressing social issues of our day, we have tremendous opportunities to affect people for good. The pressing issues of our day should trigger in Christians a desire to provide for the impoverished, care for orphans, work for freedom from slavery, strengthen marriages, and come alongside women who are considering abortion. Christians can absolutely affect the culture around them, even one person at a time. This won’t always be easy, as Christian convictions are increasingly viewed as outdated or even offensive.