Throughout church history Christians have faced the challenge of balancing their biblical convictions with the cultural norms and values of the societies in which they lived. Many chose to go against the prevailing culture in various ways and different magnitudes. Faithful Christians opted to remain steadfast in their commitment to God and Scripture. Below are several vignettes that showcase remarkable Christians who, in their unwavering dedication to be true to their faith, defied the predominant values of culture.
1. Perpetua and Felicity were two young Christian women who defied the Roman imperial authorities in the third century. Both were arrested for professing the name of Christ. They chose to die for their beliefs rather than renounce Christ.
2. Martin Luther challenged the prevailing sixteenth-century culture within the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the sale of indulgences. He believed that according to Scripture, salvation was by grace through faith alone, not through the authority of the church. Luther’s defiance led to the emergence of Protestantism and transformed the religious and cultural landscape of Europe.
3. William Wilberforce was an English politician who led the movement to abolish the British Empire’s transatlantic slave trade. Inspired by the New Testament, he championed the abolition of slavery and called the culture, as well as the church, to newer heights of spiritual revival.
4. Sojourner Truth was an African American woman and a devout Christian evangelist who advocated for women’s rights, the abolition of slavery, and temperance. She spoke truth to power, which eventually led to an invitation to the White House by Abraham Lincoln.
5. Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, along with her family, helped Jews escape the Holocaust during World War II. They were caught and sent to a concentration camp, a harrowing experience later recounted in her book The Hiding Place.
6. Dietrich Bonhoeffer confronted the cultural evil of Adolf Hitler’s regime. A German pastor and theologian, he actively resisted the Nazis, speaking out against their atrocities. His commitment to his faith and the Bible led him to defy not only cultural expectations but also the totalitarian regime that ruled his country.
7. Mother Teresa of Calcutta stood for selflessness and compassion in her service to the poorest of the poor in India. She defied the culture of consumerism by dedicating her life to care for the marginalized, quietly challenging the prevailing cultural values of her time.
8. Desmond Tutu was an Anglican bishop who advocated for justice and reconciliation. He confronted the deeply ingrained culture of racial segregation and oppression, using his position within the church to speak out against the regime. Tutu’s faith in God and his belief in the biblical principle of equality led him to become a vocal and influential leader in the struggle against apartheid.
Undoubtedly there are many more. Although some may associate Christianity with obedience and conformity, history attests to Christians from various backgrounds and time periods displaying disobedience and subversion of unjust systems. They serve as powerful reminders of the power of Scripture and its ability to challenge and transform culture.
As we reflect on the legacies of these faithful Christians, we are reminded of the ongoing importance of living out our faith in a way that challenges the cultural norms of our own time. Just as they did, we can make an impact on the world by remaining steadfast in our commitment to God and the principles of the Bible, even when it means going against the prevailing cultural tides.
The reality is that the world is full of scripts that tell us how to live, think, act, and believe. They’ve promised happiness, security, and comfort, but they have failed. Scripture compels us to challenge these existing scripts and champion the alternative script, better known as Scripture. On this premise we are excited to debut CounterScript, a show that will dive deeper into the issues that shape our world and culture. We’ll explore the biblical and Christ-centered Adventist worldview, one that continues to go against the grain of society. Each episode features thought-provoking discussion with subject matter experts and thought leaders that, in being obedient to Scripture, are also antithetical to the times we live in.
Debuting October 12th, 2023, visit: