This is a repost from February 13, 2006. This article is referenced in the book Saving Leonardo by the excellent author and professor Nancy Pearcey. I wrote this as a young 16-year-old wrestling with how to best impact culture.
For a first article on Total Truth you may be surprised at what you find here. I’m not only going to talk about Total Truth, but also some other related books that I’m reading at the same time.
First off, let me tell you my Total Truth story.
It all began with a little article called “Tolerating the Intolerable” that I wrote after hearing a presentation given by Josh McDowell, and by doing some extra reading and reasoning on my own. This article gave me the foundation for believing that there is a final, one and only Truth. After that article was a time of relative quiet, other than critics of my article. Then, before I knew it, I was on a flight to Nashville for the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, unaware that Total Truth would pop up.
I met a member who was very interested in blogs and was able to talk to her a lot about them while I was there. She told me about her book (not Total Truth), I told her about my blog, and we both discussed the blogosphere. And as our discussion continued, she told me about a fantastic book she was reading by Nancy Pearcey. Immediately I thought of all those Mind and Media reviewers and the book by Nancy Pearcey on their sidebars. I remembered an interview done by Catez Stevens, and a book review by Tim Challies. The committee member offered to let me borrow the book for the plenary session, and I jumped at the chance to browse the book. Ironically, I wasn’t able to browse it much because I was called out by a man who looked somewhat familiar, and ended up being on his radio show about an hour later (another reason I wasn’t quite as prepared as I could have been for the Albert Mohler Show, but it was awesome!).
When I returned home, I began doing research on the book, and found that Nancy Pearcey had a website, and began reading it. And finally, I received her book and began my reading experience.
I opened the book and began reading the introduction, which absolutely floored me. It was as if I was reading the message of my blog, along with many other fantastic goals. One quote struck me about why kids fall away from church, something that is heavy on my heart.
“Not only have we ‘lost the culture,’ but we continue losing even our own children,” says Nancy Pearcey, “It’s a familiar but tragic story about devout young people, raised in Christian homes, head off to college and abandon their faith. Why is this pattern so common? Largely because young believers have not been taught how to develop a biblical worldview. Instead, Christianity has been restricted.”
She continues by telling us that “as Christian parents, pastors, teachers, and youth group leaders we constantly see young people pulled down by the undertow of powerful cultural trends. If all we give them is a ‘heart’ religion, it will not be strong enough to counter the lure of attractive but dangerous ideas. Young believers also need a “brain” religion–training in worldview and apologetics–to equip them to analyze and critique the competing worldviews they will encounter when they leave home. If forewarned and forearmed, young people at least have a fighting chance when they find themselves a minority of one among their classmates or work colleagues. Training young people to develop a Christian mind is no longer and option; it is a part of their necessary survival equipment.”
I find this so true as I see “double-agents” if you will. Kids, who are Christians in church, and some other places, but have a completely secular mind view. It’s as if they have a split personality, something that has concerned me as I read MySpace stories. It’s the story of our culture–the “dichotomy” of public and private, heart and mind.
Another interesting quote from the book was “politics is downstream from culture.” This struck me hard, especially when I received Tim Echols book Real Citizenship in the mail the other day. On the front of this book, the subtitles states “Practical steps for making and impact on your culture.”
Immediately that quote from Nancy Pearcey popped into my mind, as the red flags waved frantically. If politics are downstream from culture, how much affect does â€œreal citizenshipâ€ have on culture?
Now, I realize this could put in a bit of hot water, but think about it for a moment. Forget the rest of the book, and just think about that statement for a moment.
Okay, now, as the saying goes “don’t judge a book by its cover.” And, thankfully I did not judge this book solely by its cover, but rather read the entire book within an hour and a half on Saturday night. And I found that it is pretty much in harmony with Total Truth. Both heavily emphasize the need for a biblical worldview, especially for young adults.
“Essentially, one’s worldview provides a basis for understanding reality,”says Tim Echols, “for understanding how and why things are the way they are.” Nancy Pearcey agrees when she talks about our youth. Having the correct worldview allows us “to interpret the world around” us. Tim Echols believes that “thinking biblically is not enough.”
But, let’s move away from that and focus on the political aspect. How much affect does politics have on culture? “Politics tend to reflect culture,” says Pearcey, “Not the other way around.” Tim Echols adds that political activism is not enough. “America’s social problems are too severe and pervasive to be solved in the power of the Flesh.”
He quotes Dr. James Dobson, who said to Christian public policy leaders,”Everything you are doing [to impact public policy] is just stopgap until God sends revival.”
Nancy Pearcey asserts that “the most effective work is done by ordinary Christians fulfilling God’s calling to reform within their local spheres of influence.”
Now, let’s do a little backtracking. We must have a biblical worldviews. Politics is downstream from culture. Politics is not going to do much of anything without a Christian worldview and a revival. And the greatest work on the culture is done by ordinary people. As Tim Echols says, “You can be a catalyst for change. Anyone.”
But the pervasive question is how important is politics upon our culture?
Bill Wichterman, policy advisor for Bill Frist, says that “all we can do on Capitol Hill is try to find ways government can nurture healthy cultural trends.”
Tim Echols believes that influence, “when used properly can pave the way for biblical and traditional family values to be reflected in public policy.” In other words, we would be in huge trouble if we don’t have Christians in the public sphere using their power and influence correctly.
“Living in the Washington, D.C., area,” Nancy Pearcey tells us, “I have witnessed first hand the growing numbers of believers working in politics today, which is an encouraging trend.” But there is a problem. “Few hold an explicitly Christian political philosophy.” She speaks of a chief of staff who admitted “I realize that I hold certain views because I’m politically conservative, not because I see how they’re rooted in the Bible.”
Tim Echols addresses this issue, exhorting us and telling us that “knowing and honoring Christ should go to the top of our priority list as Christians and should permeate our every decision.” (Emphasis mine.) “One of the snares awaiting politically-active Christians is the temptations to assign more loyalty to a political party then to Jesus and His precepts.”
The bottom line for him is that he is “politically active to promote a biblical worldview in political campaigns, legislative chambers and on battlefields of the culture war.”
I believe those battlefields are not just Capitol Hill. Those battlefields are on blogs like ours, in our homes, in our towns, and at our State level. It’s the small things that make the biggest difference. It’s the smaller websites joined together that make the biggest change.
So, the discussion continues: how politically active should we be if we want to change our culture for the good?
Most interesting quote from Nancy Pearcey from and interview done by Allthings2All:
“Working out an intentional Christian worldview certainly includes a biblical view of politics, but that it is only one part of our cultural engagement. We are also called to have a Christian worldview on economics, education, entertainment, and every other area of life. Of course, we all have to specialize in some field or profession. Because I live in the Washington, D.C., area, many of my friends are political professionals. But they are keenly aware that they are part of the larger Body of Christ, and that cultural renewal requires all of us to be faithful in the sphere of influence and responsibility where God has called us.
In fact, I would go further and say that if we are not working out an overarching, comprehensive Christian worldview that applies across the board, we will not be effective even in politics. Why? Because we will get caught up in sheer activism. We may win elections, but we will not know how to address the deeper, underlying ideas that shape our culture. We will always be reacting to the latest outrage instead of acting intelligently in ways that establish justice and protect the public good.”