Book Recommendation: "Culture Shock" by Chip Ingram

This is a guest post from Nelson Roberts. Nelson is a member at Brookstone Church and has recently sensed a calling into full-time vocational ministry.

How have we come to a point in history where what is morally right is deemed wrong and what is morally wrong is being championed and praised by the masses? In the first two chapters of Culture Shock, Chip Ingram retraces the historical steps that have led us to where we are today. Culture Shock is a cultural reference book for addressing “hot topic” issues with real world data and foundational biblical backing.

What is truth? Our culture no longer acknowledges that truth is absolute and instead views truth as relative. When we reject absolute truth and begin to accept that truth is relative to me and how I feel, we lose common foundation. Sayings and attitudes like these will prevail: If it feels good do it! You choose your truth I’ll choose mine! Who are you to judge me? However Chip blows away the fog to reveal,

“We can all talk about relative truth as much as we want to, but on a personal level we all operate on a basis of absolutes.”

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We now find ourselves in this mess because God is not the center and God’s truth is not deemed absolute. Our culture has replaced God with self and this has led to self worship, isolation, and ultimately destruction.

When we neglect our foundations we begin to build something that will eventually need drastic repairs or absolute demolition. We will need someone to save us. Our culture worships sex and sexuality. If you combine self-worship and the worship of sex and mix that with the rejection of absolute truth you create sexual chaos and confusion that spreads like a disease from generation to generation. Advertising and marketing firms would have you believe that 20-somethings living life on the wild side have the most fulfilling sex lives. Researchers have found this to be entirely untrue. In fact those who have the most fulfilling sex lives are those in monogamous relationships with traditional values regarding sex. This is no surprise since God ordained marriage as the place for sex to occur between a man and his wife. Chip refers to sex as a “fire.” If you have a home you want it to be warm and if you build a fire in the “fire place” you will warm your home and provide a safe comfortable place for your family. The fire is in its right place. If you were to build a fire anywhere else the fire would consume your home, yourself, and your loved ones.

When we believe truth is relative and apply that to our sexuality we believe that God is no longer an authority over our sexuality. Our identity is then not based on what God thinks but on what a person feels. Homosexuality is praised by the common culture. Our culture has tried to redefine hate as well. It seems that if you disagree with someone then you must hate them. We are losing our ability to express ourselves safely if our beliefs are against the status quo. Chip demonstrates how the church has failed to properly love the homosexual community. All truth and no love is legalism. All love and no truth is cheap grace. Neither approach is biblical. But when we temper these against each other we find a place where the lost are saved. Expressing the truth in love in a meaningful relationship will not discount one for the other but rightly guide and direct affections to God first.

Hot topics in most conversations these days usually involve abortion, the environment, or politics. These subjects are veritable conversational landmines ready to destroy all within the blast radius. You need not fear them; however, you do need to be informed. Chip’s approach to these three is seemingly very simple. It is universal. I wish you could hear me say this over a loud speaker in a stadium while displaying these two words on a Jumbotron. Personal Responsibility! It is our personal responsibility to be informed and to act on that information. Chip’s study revealed that, “Since 1973 over 50 million babies, not fetuses, have been killed in the United States with abortion procedures.” This book was published in 2014 so these numbers have risen and continue to rise at a devastating rate. Consider this: the first two people to worship Jesus on this earth in His presence did so while He was still in the womb. Elizabeth was carrying John (the Baptist) and when Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice John lept within her and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. The place where babies are safest and most protected has become the place where they are now most at risk.

Should we really care about the environment? Even a quick glance in the book of Genesis will find Adam in a garden that was given to him to steward. Chip says, “The earth is valuable, precious, irreplaceable and here’s a word we don’t use often enough referring to the earth – sacred.” The way we treat our environment shows how much we care about what God has given us to steward. We should take steps to be environmentally responsible. Recycle what you can. Reduce your waste. Reuse what makes sense. Be a good steward of what you have been given. You don’t have to hug a tree but planting a few fruit trees and caring for them is a pretty great idea.

Chip also focuses on another hot topic—politics. Political conversations seem to be the ones that escalate the quickest. The church is not meant to be the government. The government will not be our savior. Our government is meant to restrain evil; it cannot save us and it will not save us. As believers we need to know God’s Word in order to vote in a way that conforms to God’s will. It is our personal responsibility to be informed both biblically and politically so that when the time comes we make the best decision we can for ourselves, our country, and our community.

Where do we go from here? My goal was to entice you to pick up a copy of Culture Shock because I believe it is a powerful resource for any believer who wishes to engage the culture with the power of the gospel. We as believers need to be able to stand firm in our biblical beliefs and engage the culture of this world.  So "go therefore and make disciples of all nations". Be a light in the dark places.  Speak truth against the lies of this age and go forward in the power of the one who has saved you and redeemed you and calls you his own. 

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