Author’s note: This review was originally published several years ago on another site. I believe this book is just as relevant today as it was when it was first published, so I am posting this here.
Most Christians are more secular then they realize, and this must change if the Church is to have any sort of significant cultural impact. Nancy Pearcey‘s newest book, entitled Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity, argues that Christians must counter the affects of secularism by developing a comprehensive biblical worldview. This book offers wisdom and hope to the Christian who wants to have a more significant impact for the cause of Christ.
Evangelicals, explains Pearcey, have traditionally thought of salvation only in terms of individual souls. The idea that we are to have a redeeming influence in every area of culture is new to many, and just as many have no idea how to be the redemptive force that the world so desperately needs. People need to learn how to move beyond a merely privatized faith and apply biblical principles to areas like work, business, and politics.
Part one of Total Truth explains the concept of worldview and encourages Christians to critically examine their ways of thinking. Too many have already absorbed false worldviews; as a result, the Church is plagued with relativism, post-modernism, Darwinism, and any number of other secular philosophies. If we do not intentionally look at the world in a biblical way, argues Pearcey, we will (and have) unwittingly adopt a false philosophical approach.
Every worldview must explain three key elements of cosmic history: creation, fall and redemption. Every person wants to know where he came from, why there is evil in the world, and how he may be redeemed. Christians can use this simple grid to examine and evaluate any worldview. For example, let’s use this grid to briefly examine the New Age movement:
Creation: Everything is a manifestation of, or emanation from, a universal impersonal spiritual essence.
Fall: Individuality is the root of evil because it leads to greed, conflict, war, etc.
Redemption: This will come through unity when man reunites with the Spiritual Essence.
Part two of Total Truth examines the effect that Darwinism, itself a full-blown worldview, has had upon culture. Darwinism affects everything because it addresses the foundation of every worldview: creation. Pearcey states in her introduction,
“Whoever has the authority to tell a culture’s creation story functions as its de facto priesthood, with the power to determine what the dominant worldview will be. In the West, the reigning creation myth is Darwinian evolution; thus, no matter what our field of work is, we must begin by critiquing Darwinism–both its scientific claims and its worldview implications.”
A background in science writing equips Mrs. Pearcey to examine scientific evidence and clearly explain various ways that Darwinism has already been proved false. Evolutionists, she claims, cling to their theory because it is the very basis for the way they look at the world, not because it has been proven accurate. She also describes the beliefs and goals of the Intelligent Design movement and argues that Intelligent Design is the best alternative to Darwinism and naturalistic philosophy.
The effects of Darwinism stretch far beyond the science lab. Chapter seven points out that
“Darwinism functions as the scientific support for an overarching naturalistic worldview, which is being promoted aggressively far beyond the bounds of science… In order to have a redemptive impact on our culture, Christians need to engage Darwinian evolution not only as science but also as a worldview.”
Evolutionary approaches to psychology, morality, religion, medicine, education, politics, law, and history are examined in this chapter. “In other words,” says Pearcey,
“Darwinists are connecting the dots, tracing everything back to origins. And that’s why Christians had better connect the dots as well. If they offer ‘universal Darwinism,’ then we had better offer ‘universal Design,’ showing that design theory gives scientific support for an all-encompassing Christian worldview… Design theory thus provides the scientific basis for the recovery of a holistic, teleological worldview. It releases us from the modern dualism, making it reasonable once again to speak of morality as a form of objective knowledge.”
Part three of Total Truth examines the historical roots of the anti-intellectual streak in modern evangelicalism and argues that, unfortunately, Evangelicals have sometimes helped Darwinism spread. For example, the Great Awakenings of the 19th century tended to emphasize the subjective part of salvation. Evangelists used many emotional appeals to convince people to convert, sometimes resorting to downright manipulation. Over time the increasing appeal to the heart over the head helped contribute to an anti-intellectual attitude. False philosophies like Darwinism spread in part because there were few Christian scholars to refute them.
The best way to get rid of a bad worldview is to replace it with a true worldview. Christians must develop a comprehensive biblical worldview that affects not only beliefs but also actions. Thoroughly researched, well-written and well-argued, Total Truth will prove to be a useful and easily accessible guidebook for many who seek to develop such a worldview. ‘