February 4, 2007

Total Truth

Posted in Personal, Religion at 5:53 pm by egalitaria

We had the first discussion of Nancy Pearcey’s book Total Truth, which questions the way in which Christianity operates, some themes overlapping very much with Brian McLaren’s thought processes.

Here she criticises the private-public split in the way religions work.

In Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey offers a razor-sharp analysis of the public/private split, explaining how it hamstrings our efforts at both personal and cultural renewal. Ultimately it reflects a division in the concept of truth itself, which functions as a gatekeeper, ruling Christian principles out of bounds in the public arena.

How can we unify our fragmented lives and recover spiritual power? With examples from the lives of real people, past and present, Pearcey teaches readers how to liberate Christianity from its cultural captivity. She walks readers through practical, hands-on steps for crafting a full-orbed Christian worldview.

But this brings some things into question. Even before we start discussing the book…

  1. Do we believe that Christianity is the total truth?
  2. What is “Christianity”? Since within the “church” there are so many variations of what is the minimum that can be acceptable as Christian and not. Interpretations of fundamental beliefs, if varied – can these be considered as Christian? Or are we talking about the general Christian faith as it were? What is this general faith?
  3. Upon agreeing what Christianity is and is not, its boundaries, only then can we begin discussing.

Some of the things which have challenged me recently are:

  • What is the meaning of “belief”?
  • What is the meaning of “truth”?
  • What is the meaning of “salvation”?
  • What is the meaning of “Jesus”?

I have recently found my answers to vary violently from the conventional versions that I have been taught my whole life. If this is true, then my interpretation of the world changes significantly. Only then can I begin talking about how to integrate my faith into my work vocation and life as a whole. Only then can I truly appreciate that God has called all of His humanity into His purpose and kingdom.



  1. Hedonese said,

    Good questions, let’s bring em up at the royal brigade forum!

    I truly hope the Total Truth groups wud be a conducive forum to explore such issues and much more in our msian context esp. Nevertheless Nancy’s main thesis about the relevance of Christian faith on the issues of work, society, science etc is not dependent on any particular tradition (though she writes as an evangelical Lutheran/dutch reformed perspective)

    For the sake of discussion, we can ‘settle’ for CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity minimalist approach and still, the main point that she is proposing wud still be valid… in fact, i can’t see why a moonie, mormon or JW wud not read the book with profit 🙂

  2. egalitaria said,

    we should have a Malaysian version of total truth. cos pearcey’s book is obviously geared towards an american market. but still lots of nuggets of knowledge to be mined 😉

  3. LeonKJ said,

    Islam has had this ideal of a Total Truth for a long time. What do some of them do when history and science contradicts their faith? They ignore it and suppress critical thinking to keep the facade of a Total Truth. From this I learned to not try to reconcile that which cannot be, and yet, strive for a single worldview, while respecting all truth for their individual magistracies (see Stephen J. Gould’s Rocks of Ages) and yet knowing that since God is the God of all truth, all that is true meets finally at the top even when I cant reach that pinnacle or see it.

  4. Hedonese said,

    Actually, the term ‘total truth’ has been misunderstood in the book itself… many people who have yet to read the book think it means ‘absolute’ truth (but wat nancy had in mind was ‘comprehensive’ truth)… ie truth cannot be just religious or subjective feelings, it must be true to what is ‘out there’.

    On the issue of evolution, either it happened or it didn’t… and those who believe it happened bcos of evidence do so by believing it as as objective truth, similar those who dun believe the evidence lies on their side too.

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