A Review of Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, By Nancy Pearcey
"They mean to tell us all was rolling blind, till accidentally it hit on the mind." – Robert Frost
The theologian and minister A.W. Tozer is quoted as saying, “Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.” While this is true Christian thinking, it would also have to be equally true that nothing less than a whole person can make a whole Christian. Both must be true. This would include our mind, our thinking, and our vocations. Nancy Pearcey addresses this point in her book Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity.
In Total Truth, Pearcey addresses the issue of the false dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. The divide between the sacred and the secular is a false dichotomy. This is dualism and a plague, according to Pearcey, which does not reflect a true Christian worldview. Pearcey seeks to recapture the idea, which our early church fathers had, that “all truth is God’s truth” and that this truth is to be lived out in every area of our lives. She states that the “total truth” captures all of life and reality. We are to be integrated and whole human beings, living in the world, while living out our faith consistently in a manner that brings glory to our God. As the Apostle Paul puts it in Colossians 3:17, “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” This is a more accurate picture of a life lived by a whole, and integrated, Christian.
In Total Truth, Pearcey defines what a worldview is. She defines it simply as the understanding of the entire human experience. Pearcey explores Christian worldview, the understanding of the whole human experience, through the lens of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. She states that “the Christian worldview alone offers a whole and intrical truth.” It is through this perspective that we properly understand and live out our Christian faith in the world fulfilling the “cultural mandate.” Pearcey describes the living out of a Christian worldview, and the fulfilling the cultural mandate, as a “higher calling,” which entails being creative with our lives and work. It is in this higher calling, that we help restore our full humanity and begin to live out of a truly Christian worldview. As Christians, we are called to “creative effort extended for the glory of God and for the benefit of others.” Pearcey states that we are to be “Participating in the work of God as agents of His grace.”
Our job as Christians, according to Pearcey, is to apply the finished work of Christ on the cross to all of our lives. This integration of faith and life is what all Christians are called to and this is what scripture speaks about in the grand narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. This “total truth” of the Christian life does not allow for fragmented thinking, false dichotomies, or disintegrated truth. A better reflection of a Biblical and Christian worldview is one without division of public and private, sacred and secular, or fact and feeling. Our beliefs are to be integrated and our faith must be reflected and integrated in every area of our lives, especially in our thinking. As Charles Malik put it, “The problem is not only to win souls but to save minds. If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world, you will soon discover you have not won the world.” We cannot and must not divorce our faith and our thinking.
Any alternative to this holistic, “total truth,” Christian worldview, or any alternative to Christianity, according to Pearcey, is religion and the worship of idols. Having a false worldview demonstrates a misunderstanding of the true character and nature of God, and in effect, this leads to worshiping a false god, or idol worship. If we are to participate in the liberation of Christianity from its cultural captivity, we must not yield to the cultures “gods,” or look at the one true God falsely. When we yield to the idea that God’s universe, and all the truth therein, is not His own, we neglect God and are no longer worshiping the one true God, or living from a Biblical and Christian worldview.
Nancy Pearcey’s book Total Truth addresses all of God’s truth, or “total truth,” and addresses living from a Christian worldview in four sections. In section one, What's in a Worldview?, she talks about a Christian worldview through the following chapters: Breaking Out of the Grid, Rediscovering Joy, Keeping Religion in Its Place, and Surviving the Spiritual Wasteland. In section two, Starting at the Beginning, Pearcey addresses philosophies or origins and differing worldviews in these chapters: Darwin Meets the Berenstain Bears, The Science of Common Sense, Today Biology, Tomorrow the World, and Darwins of the Mind. In section three of her book, How We Lost Our Minds, Pearcey explores the predicament that we find ourselves in, in modern Christendom, in these chapters: What's So Good About Evangelicalism?, When America Met Christianity -- Guess Who Won?, Evangelicals' Two-Story Truth, and How Women Started the Culture War. In the final and fourth section of her book, What Next, Living It Out, Pearcey applies these sections in her final chapter, True Spirituality and Christian Worldview.
At the end of Total Truth, Pearcey includes several helpful and insightful appendices, appendix one, How American Politics Became Secularized, appendix two: Modern Islam and the New Age Movement, appendix three, The Long War Between Materialism and Christianity, and appendix four, Isms on the Run: Practical Apologetics at L'Abri. Then, she includes an exhaustive section of notes. Next, she includes a thorough recommended reading list. Finally, Nancy Pearcey ends her book with a helpful Study Guide.
Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey, is a fantastic book on truth and living from a Christian and Biblical worldview. This is simply a must read for anyone in education or ministry, or anyone who is looking to think and live rightly, Biblically, holistically, and from a Biblical and Christian worldview. This is a very important work as the culture has shifted, and continues to shift, to a postmodern and to a post Christian thinking and worldview. We must think rightly about all of God’s truth and all of God’s creation. Nothing less than the “total truth” will do as we seek to participate in the cultural mandate to help liberate Christianity from its cultural captivity as we think rightly and live Biblically from a solid Christian worldview.
Pearcey, Nancy. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity (Study Guide Edition), Crossway Books, Wheaton Ill., © 2004, 2005.
The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Col 3:17