Jason B. Ladd

Ask the Questions. Embrace the Answers. Make the Leap.

Cultural Captives: Beliefs, Behavior, and the Future of America

cultural captives beliefs behavior

Establishing a coherent and sufficient worldview leads to many questions about life, the world, and yourself.

When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well in Samaria, she went back and told the townspeople,

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”

cultural captives beliefs behaviorAfter reading Stephen Cable’s book Cultural Captives: The Beliefs and Behavior of American Young Adults, I am compelled to say,

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever believed, why I believed it, and where those beliefs originated.”

Cultural Captives uses relevant surveys of young adult religious and cultural beliefs, correlated with other surveys such as Barna & Kinnaman, Smith National Study of Youth and Religion, Johnson & Stark (Baylor), and Wright General Social Survey to validate the results.

(Chapter samples provided at the end of the post!)

Cable discusses:

  • What young adults believe
  • Why they believe it
  • Where they got their beliefs
  • How their beliefs correlate to a Biblical worldview

For Christians with a biblical worldview, the implications are not encouraging.

The reader can be overwhelmed by generous amounts of charts, graphs, and percentage data, but the conclusions are poignant.

Cable presents four themes based on his findings throughout the book which resonate with 18-29 year-olds:

  1. There is no real truth or morality
  2. Therefore, there’s no real reason to get involved with creating a society with high moral standards (because they can’t say what they would be).
  3. My primary objective in life is to consume as much as possible on this earth.
  4. Emerging adulthood is a time to gain as much sexual experience as possible before settling down to have a family.1

Here are some interesting facts revealed by Cultural Captives:

  • Pastors and youth groups have little primary impact on the religious beliefs of young adults.2
  • Religious and cultural beliefs of young American adults are far removed from a biblical worldview.3
  • A flood of ‘popular postmodernism’ is rapidly consuming traditional evangelical Christianity.4
  • The vast majority of 18-29 year-olds are indifferent to religion and confused about its role in their life.5cultural captives beliefs behavior

There are two competing views on the current state of Christianity and our youth:

  1. Things are improving; the future is bright
  2. Things are bad, the future is dim unless something changes

Cable’s book seeks to set the record straight:cultural captives beliefs behavior

“Almost all emerging adults today are either apathetic, uninformed, distrustful, disempowered, or at most marginally interested when it comes to politics and public life.  Both the fact itself and the reasons for it speak poorly of the condition of our larger culture and society.”6

So what is the primary source of beliefs?

  • Family

Particularly mothers and grandmothers.  But fathers get a special nod:

“The rate of fatherly influence almost doubles for young adults with a biblical worldview compared to those without it.  It appears that fathers who hold a biblical worldview are much more likely to be involved in establishing the spiritual beliefs of their children.”7

To recap, Cable illustrates the majority of born-again young adults:

  • Don’t profess a basic biblical worldview
  • Appear to randomly pick their set of beliefs
  • Caught their inconsistent, unbiblical beliefs from their parents (or grandparents)
  • Make important decisions without considering biblical truth
  • Don’t consider sinful behavior much of a problem 8

Although Cable’s outlook is bleak, he encourages us to heed the advice of the Apostle Paul:

  1. Be filled with truth.
  2. Recognize that Christ is the source of truth.
  3. Remember that the world cannot add to that truth.

Our children are being mentored by their peers. We must reclaim our role and influence.

(Click here to Tweet that!)

Have your children been taken into cultural captivity?

Have you?

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(Stephen Cable is the Vice-President of Probe Ministries, an apologetics and worldview ministry.  Probe’s vision is to free cultural captives and build them into confident ambassadors for Christ.)

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1 Stephen Cable, Cultural Captives: The Beliefs and Behaviors of American Young Adults (Probe Ministries, 2012), 16.

2 Ibid., 3.

3 Ibid., 5.

4 Ibid., 6.

5 Ibid., 19.

6 Ibid., 128.

7 Ibid., 154.

8 Ibid., 193.

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About Jason B. Ladd

Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.

3 Replies

  1. John Paine

    There are lots of bulleyes in these observations, and most of them point to a culture that is totally self-oriented. I don’t think this is a derived condition of 21st century mankind, but more about human nature. As realistic Christians, we have to accept the Great Commission in light of the real world. We can be discouraged by the state of our culture, or driven to change as much of it as we can (to use Paul’s example). Thanks for another insightful post!

  2. Sam Hall

    Jason, thanks for your extensive coverage of Cultural Captives. It appears to be significant in understanding the 20s/30s generation. We need to listen, but sometimes I can’t understand what I’m hearing.
    And therein lies the problem.