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Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  3,070 Ratings  ·  235 Reviews
Does God belong in the public arena of politics, business, law, and education? Or is religion a private matter only--personally comforting but publicly irrelevant? In today's cultural etiquette, it is not considered polite to mix public and private, or sacred and secular. This division is the single most potent force keeping Christianity contained in the private sphere--st ...more
Published June 29th 2004 by Crossway Books
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Cathy Rape
Aug 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Douglas Wilson
One of the most satisfying books I have read in a while.
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Brian Eshleman
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
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
Nate San
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apologetics
The fact that it took me four-and-a-half years (in several widely separated and intensive forays) to work my way through this volume (over 500 pages counting the Study Guide at the end, which I will save for later) should say more about the scarcity of time I have for reading these days than it should about my interest level or its importance.

Pearcy is a protege of Francis and Edith Schaeffer who spent time in her youth living with and studying under them at their L’Abri fellowship in Switzerlan
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bible-class
I found many chapters very informative and enlightening, though most were beyond my comprehension. If I were to read this book a second time in a few years I'm sure I would understand a lot more.
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
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
Ross Leavitt
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
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
May 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Rod Innis
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very comprehensive book on worldview and shows how the Christian worldview is really the only worldview that truly fits reality.

It is not a dry academic approach but a passionate appeal to Christians to live out a Biblical worldview because it is true. The Biblical God is real; the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. So Christians need to live it so their own lives have value and real purpose but also so they can introduce others to the only logically consistent and satisfyi
Bryan Smith
Feb 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic worldview book. a much-needed read today – I used this as a discipleship tool in our Dutch Church, very helpful
Ashley McKnight
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic. A must read.
David West
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic treatment of worldview. This book isn't an easy, casual read, but it is full of great history. The refutation of Darwinism was good, the chapter on the rise of feminism was helpful, and the conclusion pointed back to the Gospel.

Highly recommended for those who like this sort of thing.
Janet Reeves
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It takes time to digest, but this is one book that everybody needs to read.
Jason Kanz
Apr 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-read
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
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2010
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
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lynn Joshua
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just re-read this. It's the most valuable book I have read in the last few years.
The author's conversational style makes what could be difficult subject matter (history, apologetics, philosophy) easy to follow.

Every worldview must answer three questions: 1) Creation -- How did we get here? 2) Fall -- How did we get in the terrible mess we're in? 3) Redemption -- How do we get out of this mess?
Her arguments not only challenge the different worldviews' direct truth claims, but pushes some of t
(Grad school read)

This is one of the best nonfiction books I've ever read on the subjects of philosophy and theology. It's thoroughly researched, organized well, and expertly written. Nancy Pearcey really proves herself as one of the great contemporary minds with this book, I thought.

She especially excelled in the final section, where she details the developments of modern feminism and how the Second Great Awakening and modern evangelicalism has resulted in a lack of intellectualism within mains
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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
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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.” 17 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.” 11 likes
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