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Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity
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Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  1,976 ratings  ·  178 reviews
Is God a public figure? Does Christianity have a legitimate role to play in the public realm of politics, business, law, and education? Or are secularists right when they relegate religion to the strictly private realm of faith and feelings?

In Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey offers a razor-sharp analysis of the split between public and private, fact and feelings. She reveals t
Hardcover, 511 pages
Published September 21st 2005 by Crossway Books (first published June 29th 2004)
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Cathy Rape
Has anyone else ever had the overwhelming desire to buy 100 copies of a book you just read and pass them out to anyone and everyone you thought would actually read it? That is how this book left me feeling. Nancy Pearcy does an amazing job of stripping cultural assumptions down to their roots, then following their development through the ages, in order to show the reader the basis of philosophical assumptions we have inherited through culture. Reading this book was like chewing up a plaque indic ...more
Feb 28, 2008 Joel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in developing a Christian worldview
Recommended to Joel by: Sarah Viggiano
If you want a comprehensive presentation of worldview apologetics, this is the book to which I would turn. Excellent scholarship covering historical development of philosophy to today, as well as the concurrent development of Christian thought. Great reflection on where we have come from, where we are headed, and what sense to make of the world in which we live as believers. Best of all, Pearcey avoids sounding like a textbook and remains readable throughout the book's near 400 pages.
Christians in North America tend to view their Christianity strictly in terms of their individual commitment to Jesus Christ, and they see their part in the Great Commission as sharing their faith and bringing others also into such a saving relationship. Yet they are frustrated by a feeling of having their hands tied, of unspoken assumptions which they may sense but not be able to put their finger on. More than in any other nation, professing American evangelicals make up a sizable percentage of ...more
As I finished this book I was washed over with a variety of impressions. First, this book should be read by every Christian educator, no matter what grade level of training. Second, if you haven't been impressed to read F. Shaeffer's works before you read Pearcy's work, I think you will be after reading it. Third, I'm exhausted having to just keep up with the end/footnotes! But I love this thorough documentation. Don't overlook one of them. Fourth, I find the final chapters a paradox. They appea ...more
Nate San
Very few books have shaken my paradigm as much as "Total Truth" by Nancy Pearcy has. She is amazing at exegeting the culture and pinpointing where Christianity has pulled away from the public sphere and bought into the dichotomy of value/fact. The book is split into several parts, beginning with a set up of how we got into the mess we find ourselves in and then she hits a homerun with recommendations towards resolving the problem. I've read far too many books that bash Christianity without offer ...more
Douglas Wilson
One of the most satisfying books I have read in a while.
Matthew Green
I debated whether or not this should be a two or three star review before eventually deciding that Pearcy's good points were tertiary to her intent. Thus, I felt like what could have been fair was less than.

However, it's difficult to rate this book in the first place considering that it felt like three or four books ranging from decent to atrocious. Still, it is somewhat easy to differentiate between those books thanks to Pearcy's handy separation of the tome into four parts.

Part One is her atte
I've reviewed "Total Truth" before, so I don't think I'll review it again except to say that a subtitle could be "The decline of the evangelical mind," a phrase the author uses. Keep in mind, though, that her purpose is not to tear down evangelical Christianity but to bolster it.


"In Minnesota, teachers are instructed to be tolerant of 'multiple mathematical worldviews.'"
(Where were those teachers when I took math?)

"When the only form of cultural commentary Christians offer is moral cond
Recommended read for every Christian. It is a wake-up call for Christians at the ease with which our culture and its secular worldview is now taking over our schools and even our own way of looking at things. We have relegated the spiritual to a compartment of our lives instead of allowing it to integrate all facets of how we live.
Part of the book takes us through the historical aspects of how the church came to be what it is today. As well as how men and women's roles have changed through the
Jonathan Harris
Perhaps the best book I've ever read outside the Bible up to this point has been Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey. . . The book is divided into four sections: What's in a Worldview, Starting at the Beginning, How We Lost Our Minds, and What's Next: Living It Out. Section one reads a little bit like How Shall We Then Live tracing dualistic thought from Platonic Dualism through Augustine and Aquinas all the way to our present modernist outlook. The second section deals with the Intelligent Design vs. ...more
May 29, 2008 Kirk rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Thinking Christians
Whoever controls the origin story—the foundational belief about our origins—controls the culture. That is the premise of this provocative, articulate book. In our culture the origin story is controlled by Evolutionists with the result being that Christians have lost their voice in the culture—we have become culturally irrelevant. She makes an erudite and impassioned argument against Evolution and in favor of Creation citing numerous scholarly works.

Nancy Pearcy, a scholar who is equally at home
Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey is a very important book. I found myself often trying to retell the truths contained in this book to my husband. I found especially informative her walking the reader through the concept of two- story truth. Also very enlightening was the history of the evangelical movement.
Bryan Smith
Cultural apologetics at its finest. A tasteful analysis of various worldviews (particularly the Christian worldview), their historical and philosophical roots, and the story of how each has impacted and shaped the culture over time into what it is today. A truly great read.
This is one of my favorite books. It covers the source of the religious fact/value dichotomy in America, and the resulting fragmentation of the sacred and secular. It is a great book about forming a Christian worldview that applies to all of life.
Classic worldview book. a much-needed read today – I used this as a discipleship tool in our Dutch Church, very helpful
Do you know that feeling you get when you find the perfect container to organize some unruly collection of items? That satisfied thrill of orderliness is the best way to explain what Nancy Pearcey's book did for my mind. She gave me new categories, better answers, and helped me cull out the mental clutter (like constructivism!) and left me with a clear worldview. This is one of the most original, intelligent, and thoroughly interesting books I've ever read.

No one can function in the world withou
I had started reading this book as a recommendation from my mom, but I was struggling to move beyond the first part. I set it aside for a while and was re-motivated to read it after attending an inservice for Christian educators in which Gene Schultz, the speaker, quoted the book. He punctuated Pearcey's comments by calling her the best/clearest writer in matters dealing with Christian worldview. Of course I went home and started reading it again.
I was immediately reminded why I set it down. The
Ross Leavitt
This book is a multifaceted expansion of one simple thesis introduced by Francis Schaeffer: that today we think scientific pronouncements are binding on everyone, while religious and moral beliefs are not. That we operate on the lie that gravity and evolution are absolutely true no matter who you are, yet Jesus Christ can be both God and not God, depending on your perspective. In her confusing (in my opinion) subtitle, she means that our culture holds Christianity as a captive within the subject ...more
Brian Eshleman
The middle portion of this is five-star material, wherin the author makes good on her claim to trace today's assumptions within and without the Church back to the roots and coolly asses the strengths and weaknesses that have come down to us in current worldviews. Why was the main stage of culture left vacant for a philosophy under-penned by secular assumptions? Why has there been a persistent anti-intellectual strain in evangelicalism? Why does today's Church when it does engage the culture, see ...more
This book was very well-written. I read this book in conjunction with a philosophy class I was taking. Otherwise, for those not familiar with philosophy, it may have been a difficult read. While I did not find a difficult read, it was slow because there was so much information to digest in every paragraph. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Pearcey observes that society has relegated religious beliefs as private and personal. But by doing so, Christians have allowed their religious belief
I discovered this book accidentally when something I read on the internet brought me to Pearcey's analysis of anti-intellectualism in the Evangelical church. Many can agree on the problem, but Pearcey places it in its interesting historical context.

This book is about much more, however, as its title suggests. Pearcey argues, rightly of course, that Christianity is meant to convey all truth, the Total Truth. Not that the Bible contains every possible answer but that truth is not something you can
Read this book.

I wanted to make sure that this important message did not get lost in the remainder of my review, so let me say it again--read this book. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity by Nancy Pearcey (2004) is an excellent, broad-sweeping, intellectual rich treatment of understanding Christian worldview. Pearcey has clearly been influenced by Francis Schaeffer, a former mentor of hers, as she discusses philosophy, science, and culture (though influences of Kuy
Many books have been written in the last 15 years concerning the status of the evangelical mind, but this is one of the best. Pearcey is a disciple of Francis Schaeffer, and it shows: she pushes hard against the division between faith and the "real world" of politics, science, economics, etc.

This is mostly a work of philosophical history. She covers the history of the "American worldview" and how it has managed to eject the truths of Scripture from its purview. Her point is simple: by swallowing
Luke Dubbelman
This is a great book, a classic christian worldview and then some. To me, the bright spots of the book are her overviews of philosophical history: greek dualism to modern secularism (ch.3), pragmatism (ch.8), common sense realism (ch.11). Another great "historical overview" is the 3rd part of the book which gives a survey of the evangelical movement in America. This book does a great job at giving an introduction to various philosophical, political movements throughout western history, making it ...more
Mayowa Adebiyi
Firstly I’d like to say that this was a colossal book. The author in my opinion has completely accomplished what she set out to do. There are long books that should be shorter, this wastes no space whatsoever. The ‘seeing everything else, C.S Lewis quote describes quite succinctly the whole aim of the book.

The primary question the author answers is the one of whether Christianity is truth, truths or Truth. She draws a lot from Francis Schaeffer, especially the classic book, Escape from reason an
This book is absolutely brilliant. I highly recommend this book to everyone I know, especially those interested in developing an articulate worldview that they can defend with confidence. This book discusses the danger of the public/private and fact/value split as well the danger of an inconsistent worldview. Nancy Pearcey is both witty and brilliant. I was sad that the book came to an end.
The philosophy, the history, the in-depth analysis of present American culture... this book is a great launching pad for the newbie interested in Christian apologetics. What a refreshingly intellectual discussion of Christianity in a sea of emotionally-based fluff. Liberating indeed.
Sep 19, 2014 Calvin rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Calvin by: Alex Watt
I wanted to like this book, and I still think that it made a lot of good points and had a worthwhile overall thesis, but I really struggled to get through the text. The book is supposed to be about the practical integration of faith and public/professional life, how to live out Christianity in all the areas of your life. Unfortunately, most of the book is spent discussing how historically, and in modern times, Christians have failed at this task, and only the last of the dozen or so chapters act ...more
An eye-opening book about worldview that addresses the fact/value split that has gradually taken place, resulting in today’s popular worldviews. Particularly, the book addresses Darwinian evolution, and the problems presented by holding to an entirely naturalistic worldview (namely, that those who hold to such a view live their lives as if they have meaning when their view of how the universe works would deny that). Pearcey then goes on to investigate evangelical culture, and how the Great Awake ...more
Really good worldview summary from a Schaefferite.
Very clear classifications of worldviews in terms of Scheaffer's upper/lower story worldview analysis model.

There are good sections on Intelligent Design and science, and the application of Darwinian Naturalism to all spheres.

The history section on how anti-intellectualism took hold in american (and british) evangelicalism was very good. Whitefield was one of the first promoters of the personality of the evangelist, by stirring up enthusiasm for
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  • The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog
  • Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction
  • How Now Shall We Live?
  • A Shot of Faith (to the Head): Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists
  • Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul
  • Always Ready: Directions For Defending The Faith
  • All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes: Christians and Popular Culture
  • A Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy: Three Essential Books in One Volume
  • Christianity and Liberalism
  • Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith
  • Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World
  • Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions
  • Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church
  • Reasonable Faith
  • Defense of the Faith
  • Angels in the Architecture: A Protestant Vision for Middle Earth
  • The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think?
  • Lectures on Calvinism
Nancy Randolph Pearcey is the Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar at the World Journalism Institute, where she teaches a worldview course based on the study guide edition of Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. In 2005, Total Truth won the ECPA Gold Medallion Award in the Christianity & Society category, in addition to an Award of Merit in the Christianity Today book awar ...more
More about Nancy Pearcey...
Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning The Soul of Science Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes Science vs. Christianity. The Areopagus Journal of the Apologetics Resource Center. Volume5, Number1. Our Orderly World

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“Having a Christian worldview means being utterly convinced that biblical principles are not only true but also work better in the grit and grime of the real world.” 13 likes
“The gospel is like a caged lion,' said the great baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. 'It does not need to be defended, it simply needs to be let out of it's cage' Today, the cage is our accommodation to the secular/sacred split that reduces Christianity to a matter of personal belief. To unlock the cage, we need to become utterly convinced that, as Francis Schaeffer said, Christianity is not merely religious truth, it is total truth- truth about the whole of reality.” 10 likes
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