"Total Truth" a Bold Manifesto for the Christian Worldview
- Saturday, March 18, 2006
Books come and go, with hundreds of new titles released each week. Most of these books will quickly go out of print, make their way to remainder tables, and eventually be forgotten. On the other hand, sometimes a book comes along that demands immediate attention and will earn long-term influence. That is certainly the case with Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey, which may well be one of the most important Christian books of our times. Total Truth, subtitled "Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity," is a manifesto for Christian worldview thinking in the 21st century. The book is a masterpiece of cultural analysis and intellectual engagement, tracing the odyssey of its author even as she provides virtually an entire education in Christian worldview understanding in a single volume. This is no small achievement.
Nancy Pearcey is a gifted writer, and one of the brightest minds serving evangelical Christianity. Raised in a Scandinavian Lutheran home, she grew to know about Christianity as a child without coming to faith in Christ. She eventually became an adult convert to Christianity, but only after an intellectual and spiritual pilgrimage that took her from one side of the Atlantic to the other--including time at Francis Schaeffer's L'Abri, a study center for young people asking big questions.
Pearcey now serves as the Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar at the World Journalism Institute and as a Visiting Scholar at the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University. She is also well known for her work as a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. An articulate opponent of evolutionary theory and one of the church's most gifted authors, Nancy Pearcey brings a wealth of credibility and passion to this book.
Total Truth serves as a basic introduction to Christian worldview thinking, but its depth and clarity of thought sets it far above the usual fare. Throughout the volume, the influence of Francis Schaeffer is apparent. One of the twentieth century's most significant apologists, Schaeffer was an eccentric and magnetic figure who helped an entire generation of struggling young evangelicals find their way into biblical Christianity. Schaeffer served as a prophet of cultural engagement during an age of rebellion among America's youth, and he shaped the thinking of an entire generation of theologically-minded Christian young people.
Nancy Pearcey's conversion came when she recognized that "God had won the argument," and that her response must be to "give my life to the Lord of Truth." In other words, she came to believe that the gospel is true, and that its truth demanded obedience. "Once we discover that the Christian worldview is really true, then living it out means offering up to God all our powers--practical, intellectual, emotional, artistic--to live for Him in every area of life. The only expression such faith can take is one that captures our entire being and redirects our every thought. The notion of a secular/sacred split becomes unthinkable. Biblical truth takes hold of our inner being, and we recognize that it is not only a message of salvation but also the truth about all reality. God's word becomes a light to all our paths, providing the foundational principles for bringing every part of our lives under the Lordship of Christ, to glorify Him and cultivate His creation."
One of Francis Schaeffer's key insights was the split in the modern mind that separated "religious" truth from all other truth. This "two-story" division of truth into secular and sacred spheres ultimately undermines the Christian truth claim and leaves believers with nothing more than a claim to "spirituality" and "meaningful experiences" rather than objective truth and biblical authority.
Nancy Pearcey conducts a thorough autopsy on these deficient patterns of thought, demonstrating throughout her book that all too many Christians fall prey to this kind of thinking. She tells a story of a theology teacher in a Christian high school who drew a heart on one side of his blackboard and a brain on the other. He told his class that the heart is what we use for religion, while the brain is what we employ for science. What this teacher was insinuating is that Christianity is a matter of feeling and emotion, while science is a matter of fact and objective truth. As Pearcey laments, "Training young people to develop a Christian mind is no longer an option; it is part of their necessary survival equipment."
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