Total Truth

Is our Christian faith to be kept locked up in church and in the privacy of our homes? Our present culture vehemently and loudly declares yes! Keep your religion out of the science lab, out of the business world, out of politics, out of schools. It has no relevance in the public square. There is the world of religion and beliefs and the real world of facts and reality. These are the convictions of our society today.

How did we get into this situation where such a dichotomy in life is widely accepted? What is the underlying malaise that allows secularism to reign triumphant in our day and God to be excluded from virtually all aspects of public life? Why are so many Christians paralyzed, unable to counter the onslaught of the social and legal retooling of our society that is taking place? In this excellent book, Nancy Pearcey deals with these issues head on.

She shows the critical importance of one’s worldview, for it colours one’s perception of every aspect of life. Our society’s worldview determines their outlook. It is a worldview that splits reality into two separate entities. There are values which are your private business and facts that are publicly verifiable truths; there is faith in God which is your personal preference and there is scientific realism that has no need or use for God. There are many variations of this dualism, but the two parts are never integrated. They are in constant opposition to each other.

Over against this world view, Pearcey repeatedly makes the point that the Christian faith is not just about some personal religious truths, but it is a complete worldview. It is total truth and cannot be excluded from any part of life. Indeed, only within a consistent biblical worldview do all the pieces and aspects of life truly fit together into a proper whole. She correctly affirms that we not only need to equip our children with a Christian worldview, but we must also make them familiar with competing worldviews. Otherwise they will have great difficulty surviving as Christians against the spirit of the times, be it at school or on the job. In her book she therefore exposes the roots of unbiblical worldviews and shows the way ahead to spiritual and intellectual renewal by embracing a consistent biblical worldview.

Like her mentor, Francis Schaeffer, Pearcey is an excellent communicator. This is no dry dusty book of philosophy. She liberally sprinkles her account with true anecdotes and  helpful illustrations so that the material comes alive and hits home. She also involves herself and her own personal pilgrimage back to the Christian faith. This material is real for her and she writes with passion and precision. And her message deserves to be heard, yes it must be heard.

Charles Spurgeon once said: “The gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, it just needs to be let out of its cage.” Pearcey adds: “The cage today is our accommodation to the secular/sacred split that reduces Christianity to a matter of private personal belief. To unlock the cage, we need to become utterly convinced that . . . Christianity is not merely religious truth, it is total truth-truth about the whole of reality.”

The truth of this statement is evident in this book. Within the confines of this review it is impossible to do justice to its rich contents. Pearcey deals with a host of current concerns such as the impact that post-modernism is making on school curriculum, the distinction between spirituality and Christianity, the folly of evolution, and the enormous impact that evolutionism continues to make on virtually every aspect of life today. She also covers such topics as how the eighteenth century revivals fostered anti-intellectualism in evangelicalism and why Warfield and others in Princeton did not fully comprehend the implications of Darwinian evolutionism. Also subjects such as the family, feminism, and the changing role of male and female are addressed.

This book deserves a wide hearing. It should be widely read, especially by teachers, students, and those engaged in public life in whatever form. This edition of the book comes with an appended study guide. This guide comes with questions for discussion and gives additional examples and stories to help apply the message of the book. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Rev. Dr. Cornelis VanDam

Title:Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity
Nancy R. Pearcey
Publishing data: Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2005
Format: Hardcover, 511 pages

Republished with permission from Clarion, 56:1 (05-Jan-2007)