As 2019 drew to a close, I picked once more picked up Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity by Nancy Pearcey (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005). I’d read it 12 years ago at the beginning of my marriage and had been positively impacted by its ideas then. These flowed into much of my thinking over the past decade, so it seemed like a good idea to revisit it as an older and – hopefully – more mature individual. Reading it was alternately like taking a warm shower and being hit between the eyes by a ballpeen hammer.
The premise of the book is that the world view presented in the Bible is the most holistic and most reasonable way of explaining the world as it is, with all its quirks, glories and troubles. However, most western Christians live a bifurcated world view in which Christianity only affects the private sphere, where the public sphere bows to naturalistic explanations and actions. After outlining the disconnect this brings and providing Christian-worldview-based responses to science and society, Dr. Pearcey applies the Total Truth worldview to how the Christian walk must look. Three things struck me as I go into the year. These are old truths, but easily forgotten, because they are so uncomfortable.
- The way to glorification is through suffering (see pp. 356-360). Suffering must be called evil, as it is, for the world will never truly accept a Christian and thus will persecute him or her. However, it must be embraced as the way the good God works His will in us. In this we must cling to the goodness of God, knowing that as He glorified Christ, so He will glorify us.
- Even as a Christian I can be a “death-producing machine” (see pp. 360-361). If I choose to do things in the way of the world, I am cooperating with the Devil. This can be seen because even in all that I do for God, I am not reflecting the marks of the Spirit, of which love is chief. This is especially scary to me.
- The divine way of doing things is counter to the world’s way of doing things (see pp. 361-364). Too often we borrow our view of success from the world as well as our methodology for reaching said success. Dr. Pearcey writes, “We can go so far as to say that if Christians win their battles by worldly methods they have really lost. … If Christians use the weapons God has ordained—if we lay our talents at His feet, dying to our own pride and ambition, obeying biblical moral principles, empowered by His Spirit, guided by a Christian worldview perspective—then even if by external standards we seem to have lost, we have really won” (p. 363). This is both scary and comforting, as I remember that the results are up to God. My only task is to remain faithful to Him.
As we go into 2020, I pray that I will live out this Total Truth. May you do so, too; and take the time to read Dr. Pearcey’s book: it will change your perspective.