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A Practical Guide to Navigating Today’s World

John Stonestreet discusses his new book, "A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today's World.” Read Transcript

John Stonestreet is the co-host of breaking point,

a Christian radio show founded by the late Chuck Colson.

He's also president of the Colson

Center for Christian worldview.

John says America's views on issues,

like gender identity, technology,

and abortion are changing.

That means parents, pastors, and mentors are faced

with a difficult challenge.

They must prepare young Christians

to face a confusing world.

In his new book, A Practical Guide to Culture,

he shares how we can equip the next generation

to change the world, even in uncertain times.

John Stonestreet joins us now.

Thanks for being here.


Thanks so much.

Appreciate it.

So I've got three kids under 11.

You've got three daughters and now a three week old son.

That's right.

That's right.

This is a very timely book for both of us.

It is.

I mean, people ask why did you write the book?

My co-author Brett Kunkle will say, he has five reasons.

Those are my four reasons, are my kids.

And it really is, and any parent knows

that the culture has changed so fast on such significant issues

that we kind of feel like we can't keep up,

but leaving our kids just to go into culture without any help,

that's not an option either.

We hear terms, like culture, Christian world view.

To some people that's boring.

They don't want to really think about it.

Why is it important?

What does it mean?

Well, you really can't not think about it.

The question is, are you thinking about it well?

All right.

I mean, sometimes we just think about culture

as all the bad stuff that happens in the world

or out there, but culture's all around us.

It's like the water that we swim.

We say in the book that culture is to humans

what water is to fish.

There's an old Chinese proverb that

says if we want to know what water

is, don't ask the fish because they

don't know anything different.

And if we go mindlessly into culture not intentionally

thinking about what's true, what's not true, what's normal,

and what's not normal and why, then we're

just going to be like the fish that don't know they're wet

and we're going to end up being deceived on some really

important issues.

I don't mean to overgeneralize,

but I think Christians can maybe fall into two camps.

One community is all into the culture.

They are engaged.

They're making their voice heard, whether it's

productive and fruitful or not.

And others may just want to kind of hide in the corner,

away from the news and not get involved.

Where do we-- where should we fall into that?

Well I think we can't not engage the culture,

because we're humans and God actually

created humans to make culture and to be in culture.

And so the idea of being able to hide from the culture just

means that we're selectively hiding.

This is one of the challenges for parents

of the next generation is what do you do then

with kids who God has gifted in the media

or in arts or in science or something like that?

The culture right now has really bad ideas

in all of those areas, but to change the culture,

we need Christians to go into those areas.

On the flip side, just kind of jumping in and assuming

that just because something is portrayed as normal it is,

that's actually the biggest power of culture,

is not what it argues, as C.S. Lewis said,

but what it assumes.

Just what it appears to be normal.

And so going in uncritically is not an option either,

so to walk into culture engaging with the gospel

with a Christian worldview, that's the sweet spot.

Some people, I think, some generations

are just discouraged and depressed the good old days

are behind us.

Well, if there were ever such things as good old days,

I mean I'm not old enough to remember, OK I am.

I'm older.

But there are good things about today's culture, right?

We have seen, for example, public opinion shift

on abortion back in a positive direction.

Now, at the same time, opinion on things

like marriage and sexuality is going the opposite direction.

So we're really in an interesting time, and one

that requires more discernment than ever,

especially in an age of constant access

to information and technology and media.

Kids have so much access to information

and it makes parenting, perhaps, or you can tell me

if it doesn't, challenging because am I really truly

the authority now?

Listen, the authority issue is a big thing.

So in our book, we talk about specific waves of culture

where we kind of really feel battered and hammered,

but there's also these undercurrents, these things

that have dramatically changed and we just haven't maybe

noticed them.

Living in the information age is a big one.

So a child growing up today will encounter more information

on a daily basis than a child that

lived a couple of centuries ago would have seen

during their entire lifetime.

One of the problems--

One of the things that comes along with that,

and it's a problem, is who's the authority?

Who do I trust?

There's a real trust factor.

So you have, kind of, multiple authorities

that's given to us online, social media, Google, and so


And you also have the traditional institutions,

like home and church, and many students

have had bad experiences in those.

So it really creates a crisis of authority.

Who to trust is one of the great questions

Christian teenagers have today.

And one of the worst things a parent

can say to a child who's exploring topics

like God and God's authority, God's place in our lives

is, it's in the Bible, just believe it.

How damaging is that?

It's really damaging, because why?

Who's to say?

I mean, who's more reliable, my professor or my pastor, my peer

or my parent?

And then you have the skeptics that used to be in ivory towers

on universities, now have YouTube channels

and they're creating doubt in our kids mind.

And that's not-- that shouldn't scare us, right?

The reasons that the Bible is trustworthy,

the reasons that the Bible is actually a reliable authority,

the reliable authority, are really, really good reasons.

Now, if we don't know them as parents,

we can't walk through them with our kids.

So we've got to know them ourselves

and we've got to help our kids know

why the Bible is trustworthy.

And speaking of kids and challenges they'll face,

your book talks about how it's not

a matter of if your children encounter pornography,

it's when.

So we seem to be a culture addicted to pornography.

How can we help our kids navigate

that season in their lives when they encounter it

for the first time?

Well, I think they need to know what

it is before they encounter.

They need to know that it's out there.

Now, I've had difficult conversations

with my kids much younger than I ever thought

that I would because of this.

The second thing is just kind of the Joseph principle, which

is just pure geography, right?

Joseph resisted Potiphar's wife day after day,

until one day he got up and got out of there, right?

And I think that many parents don't know their kids

passwords, many parents don't have any sort

of filtering technology.

Some feel it's not their business, right?

My kids deserve privacy.

Listen, if you don't want to have

a conversation with your kids about these things,

the culture is ready to have them.

So I'm like, know the passwords.

I love how you said that you and your co-author, look,

our wives know all our passwords,

I should know my kid's.

No, that's exactly right.

I don't trust myself in that.

And I think it's insane to have a teenage boy

with unfettered access to the internet in the privacy

of their bedroom.

A lot of times when I talk to students and they say they're

addicted to pornography, I'll say, well,

where's your computer?

They're like, in my bedroom.

I'm like, OK.

Take it out in the living room.

And a parent allowed that.

And a parent allowed that.

I said, well, take it out in the living room

and only get on the internet if your mom's in the room.

They say, whoa, I can't do--

well, would you get on pornography

if your mom's in the room?

Sometimes we just need those practical accountability--

the practical accountability that these boundaries provide.

So you talked about undercurrents, but then

things like transgenderism, homosexuality.

Those are the waves, perhaps.

How do we help our kids through those areas,

but also just as adults in this culture,

as Christian people in this culture?

What's your perspective on that?

Well, the first thing is we have

to resist the temptation, which we hear

all the time in culture, particularly

in these sexual issues, that to not go with the times

is to be on the wrong side of history.

In the book, we try to be very clear.

The most important truth about this culture

is that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

No Supreme Court decision, no new trend,

nothing's going to change that.

We have to be clear on these issues

first if we're going to walk our kids through them.

And listen, throughout the history of Christianity,

Christians are more often unpopular with the culture

than they are in agreement with the culture.

We haven't had to have that same level of comfort

recently in the last couple of generations.

We need to start getting comfortable with planting

our feet on the scripture and what

it says about issues of gender and sexuality

and just not fall for this line, you're

on the wrong side of history.

There's no such thing as being on the wrong side of history.

It's being on the wrong side of right.

And we need to know scripture.

We can't just engage in these conversations

about knowledge of the Bible.

Yeah, the fourth section of the book is kind of a toolkit,


I mean, what toolkit do we need?

I mean, we can anticipate all the waves

that our kids are going to face or all the undercurrents

our kids are going to face in the culture,

but we can give them good equipment, and one of them

is how to read and study the scripture

and why to trust the scripture, as well.

Well, John's book is called A Practical Guide to Culture

and it's available wherever books are sold.

It's a great resource for families, especially.

We really appreciate you being ere.

Thank you so much.


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