Total Truth: A review
Is religion only a private matter, or does God belong in the public arena?
Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey, in examining this question, follows in the line of, and further develops, Francis Schaeffer’s How Should We Then Live and Charles Colson’s How Now Shall We Live, both of which would be known to many readers.
Subtitled Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, Total Truth presents a readable and insightful challenge to evangelical Christians to understand all of society and life through a Christian (biblical) worldview rather than a secular one Christians have adopted. That secular worldview is limited to our culture and binds Christians, who restrict their faith to only the private sphere, leaving it at Church each Sunday.
As our worldview governs our thinking, Pearcey encourages readers to develop and apply a biblical worldview to all of life, arguing that this gives us “a biblically informed perspective on all reality,” – a Total Truth – which enables us to see things more clearly and which we can take into our daily life and the world in which we live, i.e., the public sphere. In this way, Christianity is able to challenge, redeem and renew culture.
Total Truth comprises 4 parts.
Part 1 explains how to build a Christian worldview by starting at the beginning – in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth – and the Bible’s teaching that God is the only source of the whole created order, and seeing all of history through Creation, Fall, and Redemption.
From here Part 2 examines Creation and science;
Part 3 the decline of Christian thought over the ages;
and Part 4 how to apply a Christian worldview, and integrate our faith, in all of life and daily living under the Lordship of Christ.
Pearcey shows what this Total Truth means for areas of family, business, public policy, education, arts, science, music, law, politics and Christian involvement in society. She “walk(s) you through practical, workable steps for crafting a Christian worldview in your own life and work” and applying it “to cut through the bewildering maze of ideas and ideologies we encounter in a postmodern world. The purpose …. is nothing less than to liberate Christianity from its cultural captivity, unleashing its power to transform the world.”
“The most effective work …. is done by ordinary Christians fulfilling God’s calling to reform culture within their local spheres of influence – their families, churches, schools, neighbourhoods, workplaces, …. and civic institutions.”
Although written in 2004, Total Truth is a book highly relevant today. The foundation and explanations laid down by Pearcey are most helpful for Christians in the present day in understanding that God belongs in the public arena and in their responding to the push to exclude the Christian faith from the public square.
There is also a study guide edition to Total Truth available – which would be a practical way of reading the book and understanding its message.
Owen Davis is an active ACC member in South Australia.