The Biblio-Files

bib·li·o·phile (bĭb'lē-ə-fīl') n.

1. A lover of books.
2. A collector of books.

25.7.07

Total Truth by Nancy Pearcy, Part 1

world·view (wûrld'vyōō')
n. In both senses also called Weltanschauung.
  1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
  2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group. (Dictionary.com)
Well, there is no easy way to do justice to the weight of this work by Nancy Pearcy. In fact, I'm gonna have to post in two parts. This post will consist of "What is This Book For?" and "My Recommendation." Part 2 will be the "Quotes" section and "Key Chapters and Summaries." So, let's move on.

This book is one of those books that you wish you could just memorize and have with you always ready to go. Unfortunately, the book is right under 400 pages and thus, the only real option is to just read all or parts of it again and again. After you read this you just want to walk into a secular university and go straight to the Dean of Philosophy's office and prove to them that they can't live out their worldview, and then leave. Okay, well, it at least makes you want to buy them a copy to read. Here's why:

What is This Book For?
Let's start with the title: Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From It's Cultural Captivity. The concept behind "Total Truth" is that the truths of Christianity are not to be contained as strictly private beliefs only to be kept for personal meaning and fulfillment. Instead, Christianity is itself a worldview that interprets all of reality. To put it another way, Christianity is a lens by which all areas of life (work, music, art, business, ethics, science, food, sex, math, etc.) are to be explained, namely, through the Biblical themes of Creation, Fall, and Redemption. Unfortunately, in the minds of unbelievers and believers alike, Christianity has become neutered to a secondary voice that only is sought for things like personal spiritual inspiration or a moral benediction for secular events. Even for Christians, Christian truth is not a starting point when it comes to life, it is the afterthought that follows what all the experts have found to be true in their secular study. To put it another way, for example, even the most committed Christian is educated in college under the assumption that he or she is learning science, business, art, or music under what is commonly accepted by all as the plain, unbiased facts of life that exist separate from any underlying worldview. The truth: There is no such thing as unbiased facts of life! Every so-called "fact" actually fits into larger worldview schemes that are all anti-Christian. Every Algebra I problem taught to the college freshman has an agenda attached to it, whether the professor is aware of it or not. (Either mathematics is the study of how a purposeless world has come to be ordered by chance, or a rational God subjected the universe to particular logical patterns that have come to be studied under the umbrella called "math.") Yet, the truth of the matter is, even computer programming can be seen in a Christian worldview through the lens of Creation, Fall, Redemption. Thus, it is the duty of the Christian to not reserve his or her belief in the Lord Jesus Christ for church or family, but to extend it as an overarching worldview that binds and interprets every facet of existence--Christianity is not just personal, spiritual, church, or family truth, it is total truth.

The idea of Liberating Christianity from It's Cultural Captivity simply means that in America, the secular mindset is that "science" rules the day. (In most cases, when people say "science" they usually really mean "scientism," which is more a philosophy than true science.) Whatever is not considered hard fact is really a non-necessity in terms of reality. Things such as values, morals, and religion are reduced to personal (un-scientific) wishes upon how things are or should be, and are stripped of their influence beyond the individual. Pearcy surveys world history to show how this fact/value dichotomy has solidified in our day. Christians are called to liberate Christianity from the realm of private knowledge and present it as the only consistent interpretation of reality.

Overall, Christianity is a worldview that interprets all worldviews. There is only one true interpretation of reality, and that is the one that is in accord with God's revelation found in Scripture. Only God's revelation to us explains life as it is, and any worldview that is contrary will always be guilty of inconsistencies and contradictions. Only the Christian worldview, interpreting the world through the lens of Creation, Fall, and Redemption, can make sense of all the facts found in the universe. The Darwinist cannot live out their worldview. The Nihilist cannot live out their worldview. The Hindu cannot live out their worldview. And on and on.

Pearcy, drawing heavily on Francis Schaeffer and presuppositional apologetics, discusses the current cultural issues such as the ubiquity and influence of Darwinism, the influence of feminism, and the anti-intellectualism of evangelicalism, and traces through history how we came to be where we are with Christianity embedded deeply in it's cultural captivity. Pearcy's strategy is to equip Christians to take a Christian worldview into the public sphere, presenting it as objective (total) truth, and using it to show how other worldviews are inconsistent and are thus, self-defeating. Dang.

My Recommendation
This book is a beast. I probably would only recommend it to those who already have a grasp on some basic Christian history, philosophy, and worldview discussion and terminology. I have somewhat of a decent grasp on these issues and it still required me to have an alert mind. Although Pearcy is a great writer, and she is careful to be understood by not being overly academic, the various discussions require detailed development and are thus complex. I feel confident that the average person can stay with her for the whole 400 pages, but the moment you check out mentally is the moment you will get buried--there can be no skimming or reading late at night. The average chapter is about 25 pages, but it took me about an hour or more to read each. However, I would recommend that if any feel the need to identify and combat the secular "isms" of the day with a Christian worldview--which is speedily becoming a pressing need for all Christians--then this is a book to read at some point. Don't let size intimidate you.

Next episode:
Quotes
Key Chapters and Summaries


Till then, cultivate a Christian worldview.
Peace.

3 comments:

blake white said...

Plev,

Great book! Great Review. When we get thru with school, we should make potential church members read this book before they take the membership class. Then read it again after the class before they can join the church (just in case they skimmed the first time through). This book deserves a very wide reading among believers.

Ryan Bebee said...

Eron,
Sounds good man. I have the book, but I dare not pick it up 2 days before I move (Sarah might find that her husband is neglecting his duties). Look forward to discussing it with you later (on our own front porch...that has a nice ring to it. I'll purchase the first b & m's).

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