Culture > Books

Know nothings

"Know nothings" Continued...

Issue: "Summer Books 2004," July 3, 2004

These ideas are also explicitly maintained in The Da Vinci Code, which also explains why Mr. Brown and Ms. Pagels feel so free to make things up, in defiance of all objective evidence. If you are a Gnostic who does not believe the objective world really exists and that all truths are mere constructions, you can construct "truths" of your own to advance your power agenda. There really is no difference between fact and fiction. It is all fiction.

And if Christians have unwittingly succumbed to the Gnostic heresy, it is more urgent than ever that they learn what the biblical worldview really is and the difference that worldview makes as Christians live in the world.

Thus, a new book by Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Crossway), comes at the perfect time.

Christians have been learning to attend to "worldviews" -- both the non-Christian ones that surround them (lest their thinking be distorted by the culture), and the Christian one (so they can apply biblical truth to all of life and be a positive influence on that culture). Exactly what this entails, though, and how to apply worldview thinking in practical terms have not always been clear. Total Truth makes this clear. On one level, this book is a lucid, easy-to-understand manual for worldview thinking. But it also breaks new ground in worldview analysis.

Ms. Pearcey, who studied under Francis Schaeffer at L'Abri in Switzerland, applies his thinking in some insightful new ways. She demonstrates how and why the artificial distinctions between "facts and values," "public and private," have driven Christianity out of the external, objective world of "real life." To the point that today, Christianity is seen both by opponents and adherents as nothing more than a personal, interior preference, something that exists only inside a person's head.

She shows how Christians themselves cooperated in their own marginalization with a false piety centered in personal experience rather than objective truth. She shows how it is, for instance, that faculty members in a Christian college can say that they believe in the doctrine of Creation while, at the same time, teaching evolution in their classrooms. They affirm creation as a "value," an inner conviction that gives them a sense of private meaning. They affirm evolution as a "fact," an objective, scientific explanation. The two realms are completely separate. Their acceptance of scientific materialism makes no dent in their personal faith. And their personal faith has nothing to say about the objective world.

Ms. Pearcey ranges far and wide, from the history of ideas to contemporary issues faced by Christians today. She has an extensive section on Intelligent Design, the critique of Darwinism with which she has particular expertise. She shows how nearly every non-Christian worldview can be untangled by simply applying the Christian paradigm of Creation (what does this worldview think is the origin of the world?), the Fall (what does this worldview think is the source of human problems?), and Redemption (what does this worldview think is the solution that would put things right?).

She deals with gender issues. (Men have been consigned to the public sphere of brutal but meaningless facts; women have been seen as the source of inner, humanizing values. Trying to go from one realm to the other, without the biblical wholeness, gives us the feminization of the church, feminists who try to be masculine, and men who are alternatively macho and wimpy.)

She deals with apologetics and the culture wars, evangelism, and genuine Christian spirituality. She also shows how Christianity can be brought back into the external world once again. And for all of its intellectual and theological sophistication, Total Truth is written in a way that the average layperson will understand and appreciate.

The total truth of Christianity is far superior in every way to the total fabrications of postmodern Gnosticism.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith


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