Platt: Gospel requires cultural engagement

The Gospel should compel “contrite, compassionate, courageous” cultural engagement, David Platt exhorted in a chapel message at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Platt pointedly challenged younger evangelicals’ “lack of zeal” and being “strangely quiet” about certain issues in a message drawn from Genesis 1-3.

Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., and author of a 2010 bestseller, “Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream,” spoke March 20 at Southern Seminary’s Louisville, Ky., campus.

While younger evangelicals are rightly passionate about sexual slavery, orphans and poverty, Platt said too many avoid “contentious” issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and sexual immorality that bring Christians into conflict with the prevailing opinions of the culture.

“Followers of Christ do not have the option of picking and choosing which social issues we are going to apply biblical truths to,” Platt said. “… We do not have the option of choosing which battles we are going to fight and which issues we are going to flout.”

Biblical foundations

Platt noted four biblical, Gospel foundations in Genesis that lead to four cultural implications.

Citing Genesis 1:26-31, Platt said God “creates us as a demonstration of His glory.” Genesis 1 itself is a “glorious tribute to the greatness of God as creator.” In some sense, Platt said, humans are the “spitting image of God Himself.”

Second, Genesis 2:18-25 reveals that from the beginning “God designs us for the display of His Gospel.” The Genesis 2 passage “is not addressing dignity or value here, but role,” Platt said, describing godly marriages and biblically defined gender roles as a literal and figurative design “for the display of His Gospel.”

Moving to Genesis 3 for a third Gospel foundation, Platt noted that “God judges us by His righteous law.” Humans have “spurned” God’s authority and have the “audacity” to question God, he said. “We have rebelled against Him and we now suffer the consequences of that sin all around us.”

Platt cited Genesis 3:15 as the fourth Gospel foundation in which “God pursues us with His redeeming love.” Despite humanity’s sin and the self-centeredness resulting from sin, God does the “shocking and the scandalous”: Rather than waiting for humanity to take the initiative, He “seeks after the guilty,” Platt said.

Cultural implications

After establishing the four truths that form the “essence of the Gospel” and the “bedrock of our faith,” Platt listed four cultural implications.

First, Christians should “fight abortion as an assault on God’s creation and an affront to God’s glory,” Platt implored.

With his voice breaking, Pratt said 130,000 babies are aborted daily around the world. “I do not believe it is an overstatement to call abortion a modern holocaust; that is an understatement,” he said.

Platt dismissed the argument that abortion is a complex issue: “If that which is in the womb is a person formed by God, this issue is not complex at all.”

Moral or political neutrality “is not an option for those who believe this Gospel,” Platt declared. “There is a battle raging in our culture, and if you and I sit idly by while millions of children — individuals in the image of God — around us are dismembered, then we are denying basic biblical truth that forms the foundation for the Gospel we claim to believe.”

Second, Christians should “flee sexual immorality” and “defend sexual complementarity in marriage for the sake of the Gospel in the world,” Platt said.

He challenged the audience: “God has sovereignly brought some of you to this place to hear this one clear word today: Flee, flee the sexual immorality that you’re toying with, flirting with in your life.”

In godly marriage, Platt said, “The Gospel is most clear in the world when a man and a woman come together in the one-flesh union of marriage and unite their lives with one another in a picture of Christ’s love for His church.”

In light of the climate of gay marriage and rampant sexual immorality, Platt called Christians to defend biblical complementarity, trust God and realize that as divine image-bearers “we each have different roles in a way that does not devalue worth but actually exalts worth.”

Platt said a third Gospel implication from Genesis is to “work for justice in the world” while speaking “about the judge of the world.”

While commending those who have demonstrated concern, Platt said many churches have “lost sight of the Gospel” in view of social injustice, quoting Luke 10:27, which requires Christians to love their neighbors.

Platt passionately described the plight of girls and women across the world hopelessly in bondage to the sex trafficking industry. He recalled a recent visit to Nepal where a young girl spat on him after he was unable to help her, knowing she may one day be sold into slavery.

“What if these were our girls?” Platt asked. “It would change the way we live.”

Finally, Christians should “give our lives and lead our churches to pursue peoples still unreached by God’s redeeming love,” Platt said.

Calling 6,000 people groups totaling some 2 billion people “the greatest injustice in our day,” Platt asked, “What is it going to take to get us to the point where the whole concept of unreached people groups is intolerable to us?”

In the midst of these cultural debates, Christians cannot be silent, Platt said.

“Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved,” he said, citing Martin Luther. Whether abortion, poverty, slavery or sexual immorality, Platt said Christians must “refuse to pick and choose.”

While recognizing that individuals have limits of involvement, Platt asserted, “In our belief, let’s be consistent. In our proclamation, let’s be complete. In our leadership, let’s be clear. This Gospel of Christ compels contrite, compassionate, courageous action on a multiplicity of cultural issues, and to engage with the Gospel on the battlefronts across our culture as we give our lives to taking the Gospel across cultures.”

Platt implored, “In the end, may it be said of us that we loved our Lord and we led His church for the demonstration of His glory and the display of His Gospel amidst the most pressing issues of our day.”

Audio and video from Platt’s sermon are available at

— Hayley Schoeppler is a writer for Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.