To give tools and truth about the culture to those that influence the next generation, like parents, educators, and Sunday School teachers, so that they can help the next generation navigate both the undercurrents and the waves of today’s world because “[u]nderstanding both is critically important if we’re to keep our heads above water” (pg 19).
The framework of culture and why it matters.
Studying the undercurrents of the culture.
Looking at the culture's waves.
Unpacking some Christian worldview essentials.
Throughout this book, the culture is compared to an ocean (pg 19). For example, just like an ocean surrounds a fish, so the culture is all around us. Or just as the ocean has unseen (undercurrents) and seen (waves) elements to it, so does the culture. In the culture, although undercurrents are unseen, they pressure us to conform to the world’s assumptions. Those undercurrents are then expressed in what we can see, hear, and feel in the culture through current trends, issues, or beliefs in the world. “Beneath the obvious issues, debates, and controversies (the ‘waves’) that dominate our nation’s twenty-four-hour news cycle and our personal social-media feeds are the subtle, often-unseen, yet important norms of culture (the ‘undercurrents’)” (pg 28).
Too often people believe and accept the voices of the culture without examining them or challenging them. 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” (pg 28; underline mine). This book challenges the believer to examine the undercurrents and waves of the culture to see if they are right or wrong based on God’s truth.
Part 1: The first part of the book lays the framework for culture and answers the question, why does culture matter?
The first chapter focuses on defining culture, what it is and what it is not, and how it affects us and we affect it.
The second chapter helps believers rightly understand culture by putting it in the context of God’s story. Stonestreet and Kunkle summarize God’s story into four parts: creation, fall, redemption, restoration. They say that, “[this] Story is the context of our cultural moment. We must live from it and allow it to shape us” (pg 58). With this mind, believers should not ask where should I draw the line in culture, but “what is my salvation for” (pg 58) and then act accordingly.
The third chapter defines cultural success as a Christian in America: “... deeply engaging the moment in which God has placed us and courageously navigating the threatening currents, knowing that we serve a cause, and a God, far greater than ourselves” (pg 73).
Part 2: The second part of this book deals with the undercurrents of the culture—the parts of the culture that we cannot necessarily see but that drive the waves of our culture. These undercurrents include:
Living in the informational age which not only addresses the great volume of truth that we have today but also discusses who young people go to for their source of truth and the lack of discernment and critical thinking that they apply when hearing information.
The culture’s perception of identity, where today’s youth find their identity, and what it means to be human.
Technology and how that affects our ability to successfully relate to one another.
The loss of virtue in an extended age of adolescence.
In the chapter on living in the information age, the concept of a worldview is brought out. A worldview is “the framework of basic beliefs we have, whether we realize it or not, that shapes our view of the world and for the world” (pg 90). Our view of the world concerns how each one of us answers the questions concerning origin, identity, meaning, morality, and destiny and our view for the world is our actions based on our beliefs of those categories (pg 91). Everyone has a worldview and we need to be discerning about our own worldview and the worldview of others.
Part 3: Every chapter in part three examines different seen waves of the culture that this next generation is encountering. Topics include pornography, the hookup culture, gender identity, entertainment, racial tension, and others. Each chapter is divided into four sections:
Cultural lies are addressed about the issue and a short discussion is provided on why this is a lie and what the truth is about the issue.
Recapturing the wonder of God’s Story on this topic.
Practical action steps and additional resources are given for parents and leaders of the next generation to help young people discuss these issues, know the truth, and make right choices about the truth. The suggestions are often geared toward family activities and discussions since the family environment is the best place to discuss these issues.
Lastly, the section on Hopecasting gives hope for the future in the midst of this discouraging cultural trend.
Part 4: This section contains Christian worldview essentials. Topics cover:
Things to REMEMBER, DO, or AVOID when reading the Bible.
Reasons for why we can trust the Bible based on logic and arguments such as the cosmological, fine-tuning, and moral argument.
How to do deal with religious pluralism.
The last chapter of the book leaves the reader contemplating how he or she can have an active influence on culture by asking:
“What good can we celebrate, protect, promote, and preserve?”
“What is missing that we can contribute?”
“What evil can we stop?”
“What brokenness can we restore?”
Since this is a broad overview it does not provide expanded arguments for some of the cultural issues. But they do provide resources for the reader to do extra personal study.
At the end of each chapter there are discussion questions for the reader to think about and to help personalize the content to his or her life. Often there are extra resources given from other ministries in the body of Christ to help the reader go deeper on topics of interest. Stonestreet and Kunkle also give good questions and suggestions for parents to talk with their kids to start the conversation on these relevant topics.
The content of the book is easily laid out to quickly identify lies in the culture and then it provides concise answers on how to understand the issue and know the truth.