Justin’s #18 – Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, Nancy Pearcey, 512 pages

I’m no stranger to Nancy Pearcey. In fact, I’ve been a keen follower of her since my friend and fellow blogger, Ron, introduced me to this book back in 2014. Since then, I’ve read Saving Leonardo, Total Truth (2014 review), and most recently, Finding Truth. This is my second read through of Total Truth, but the refresher is a breath of fresh air. Here are some thoughts:

Total Truth is about culture. It’s about worldview. We go to our jobs thinking we can’t make a difference because we’re not in “real” ministry. But of course, this is a lie we tell ourselves. Pearcey, being influenced strongly by the ministry of Francis Schaeffer, understands that worldview is key to unlocking the potential for people to live out their faith in their boring, mundane, non-ministry jobs. In fact, one of the biggest problems Christians face today is not that we are not Christians in our workplaces, but that we do not see the world in our work space through the lens of a Christian worldview. What I mean is that politicians, lawyers, doctors, and others all play a crucial role in impacting those around us. We are not merely a Christian on Sunday mornings, but rather our faith should play an integral part in every facet of our lives. The problem is we tend to know what we believe but we understand less how that should play out in realms outside of Church.

The premise to Pearcey’s book lays in a fact/value splits. Facts, of course, are things that are indisputable. For example, the sky is blue is public and logical fact. Values, on the other hand, are private and depend on who you’re talking to. For example, I like chocolate ice cream; notice that this is dependant upon whom this sentence is coming from. Obviously not all people like chocolate ice cream. Further, it would be foolish to assume that everyone around you feels the same way so this value is more privatized than what is factual. This is something that dominates our thinking without realizing it. Take for example this dichotomy when you’re speaking about Christianity: Christianity is relegated to the “lower story” (as Pearcey puts it) because not everyone is a Christian. But the big problem with this is that value based opinions, if you will, make the assumption that it’s not necessarily true for everyone. We go to our workplaces everyday thinking that we don’t want to offend anyone because of our preference for chocolate ice cream (to continue the use of the analogy). The fallacy is that Christianity is not merely a private value, but rather a fact. It’s truth that should permeate in every facet of our lives.

I’ve spoken about Francis Schaeffer before, and I like what he said in “How Should We Then Live“: a worldview is predicated on the presuppositions you believe about the world. Pearcey’s main objective in part 1 of this book is how Christians can formulate a cohesive Christian worldview that does not commit the mistake of placing it underneath the value story of the fact/value split. In part 2, Pearcey delves deep into the most dominant worldview of our time and how to combat it; that is, evolution. She provides several great examples of how the evolutionist worldview fails in light of both scientific and worldview perspectives. In part 3, Pearcey examines how we came to be where we are in Evangelical America. I thought, as I mentioned in my previous review, that this is the weakest section for me because I’ve studied a little bit about Church history and I would like to challenge some of the claims. For the most part however, I think Pearcey is spot on. Lastly, Pearcey explains how to live it out in the world in part 4.

This is a great book for those looking for an introduction to philosophy and how it applies to us today. I really enjoyed Finding Truth because Pearcey builds on some of these thoughts and develops an actual system for worldview evangelism. The next logical step after Total Truth is Finding Truth I believe. Both are essential books for Christians I think.

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