A Review of A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World by John Stonestreet & Brett Kunkle

John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle have spent their entire adult careers helping young people understandthe world they're living in and engage with it in light of the biblical worldview. It's a challenge, they say, that is getting harder and harder for young people to live out. So now they've put their combined wisdom into A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World, the goal of which is to help the rest of us help young people live well in our cultural moment.

In Part One, they discuss what culture is and why it matters. "Culture is for humans what water is for the fish," they write, except that, "unlike the fish, we make our own environments." There's a symbiosis to the way culture works. We create culture by what we choose to do in the world, and then culture in turn shapes us as it affects our perceptions of reality. It presents some things to us as normal, for example, and it censures other things. Cultures have "atmospheres" and moral codes, written and unwritten.

In keeping with the metaphor of the culture as our "ocean," Part Two looks at some powerful, though subtle, undercurrents that may go unnoticed if we don't pay conscious attention to them: the ramifications of living in an information age, the vital matter of identity and how it's formed, the socio-relational impact of living in a techno-culture where so many interactions are mediated through screens and machines, and the exorbitant costs of protracted adolescence on a massive scale. ("If Christian kids can just grow up," they write, "they'll be way ahead of many of their peers.")

Each of the eight chapters in Part Three deals with a specific flashpoint subject: pornography, the hookup culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, affluence and consumerism, addiction, entertainment, and racial tension. The authors pinpoint the widely accepted cultural lie(s) associated with each of these issues, compare them with biblical truth, and then offer practical ways to engage with each one from a true understanding of reality and biblical hope.

Culture has a powerful effect, but it's not everything. With Parts One and Two addressing the "bigger picture" subjects, and Three and Four zeroing in on specifics, this is indeed a very practical resource for parents, youth leaders—indeed anyone who understands the times and cares about the generations to come. In a delightful affront to postmodernism, these authors place culture in the context of the gospel, rather than trying to fit the gospel into the context of culture. Because, "well, that's where it belongs."


C. S. Lewis said that the most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones that are being argued, but the ones that are assumed. In many ways, a society's culture is the sum total of those ideas that are assumed. To the extent that those ideas are true and good, the society will be healthy and function well. But to the extent that those ideas are false, it will be dysfunctional and ill.

Friends, we're pretty sick, and if you'll forgive the mixed metaphor, unless we diagnose the illnesses accurately and get the prescriptions right, people are going to drown. This Practical Guide to Culture will not only give you a framework for keeping your own head above water, but will also enable you to navigate the currents and breakers as difference-making lifeguards and rescue agents.

is a freelance writer and blogger on apologetics and matters of faith.
This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #43, Winter 2017 Copyright © 2019 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo43/watch-rescue-ops