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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 the population, but in terms of cultural impact, they are almost invisible. Nancy Pearcey argues that this is because they have implicitly accepted a secular/sacred divide which keeps the power of the gospel locked up, like a caged lion. Her purpose is to give us the tools to recognize where and how this has happened, so that by liberating Christianity from its cultural captivity, it may become a redemptive force that really permeates our culture.The cultural captivity that Pearcey refers to is the banishment of Christian ideas to the private sphere of values and subjective feelings, and out of the public sphere of facts, objective knowledge, and science. This two-tiered division of truth that our culture (and many Christians) accepts results in both the truth claims of Christianity not being taken seriously since they are not seen as belonging to the realm of knowledge, and in Christians themselves not knowing how to integrate their faith to the whole of reality. Worse, evangelicals (conservative Bible-believing Christians) have gone from dominating the culture of the nineteenth century, to being completely marginalized today. And it is largely their own fault. Though they controlled all the cultural institutions at that time, nineteenth century evangelicals, as a result of the First and Second Great Awakenings, had come to view Christianity primarily in terms of non-cognitive categories of emotion and experience. Their religious beliefs were still an integral part of their “lower story” activities such as science, but because they did not view their Christianity as “total truth”, a worldview which orders all of reality, they could not recognize the threat of competing worldviews which came along at that time. When the Baconian view of science that Enlightenment intellectuals had become intoxicated with, promised that knowledge could be based on bare empirical facts, unfiltered through any religious or philosophical grid, Christians were persuaded to set aside their own religious framework. But this view of science, or any other activity, as religiously neutral, is false, and so the withdrawl of Christian presuppositions created a vacuum that was quickly filled by alien philosophical frameworks, namely naturalism and empiricism. These were introduced under the banner of “objectivity” and “free inquiry” whereas Christian views were seen as biased. As a result Christian perspectives were driven out of the lower story to the upper, where they have remained to this day.”It is nothing less than tragic that Christians themselves were partly responsible for the privatizing of religion”, Pearcey notes. Then and even today, many embraced as perfectly reasonable the subsequent principle of methodological naturalism, thinking that it was simply a refinement of scientific practice to limit the scope of investigation of the natural world to natural explanations. They did not recognize that this opened the door to metaphysical naturalism. “After all, if you can interpret the world perfectly well without reference to God, then His existence becomes a superfluous hypothesis.” Historian George Marsden is quoted as saying that “the naturalistic definition of science was transformed from a methodology into a dominant academic worldview.” All worldviews, Christian and non-Christian, seek to provide an overarching metanarrative that answer the questions of Creation, Fall, and Redemption. The worldview of naturalism, that the natural world is all there is, has been around since the ancient Greeks. But it never really caught on because it was not able to answer the fundamental question of Creation without smuggling in concepts from a theistic worldview. Darwinian evolution finally provided this creation myth and so laid the foundation for a century and a half of naturalism as the dominant worldview in our culture. If we understand this, we can understand why the biblical teaching of Creation is under such relentless attack today. What is at stake is the first principle of the Christian worldview; everything stands or falls with its teaching on ultimate origins.This concept is absolutely critical, and so Pearcey devotes a third of the book to discussing evolution. It was not just a mere scientific theory which sought to explain the facts of the natural world; its significance rather was that it signalled a revolution in what counts as knowledge. Christians, then and now, who do not know how to construct their own worldview and critique competing ones with the grid of Creation, Fall, and Redemption, have missed this clash of worldviews, and have either retreated into Fundamentalism, or have attempted to reconcile their theism with evolution, a move which, because of what is at stake, is very dangerous.When Christianity is articulated as a full fledged worldview, it is liberated from the two-story division that has reduced it to an upper-story private experience and is restored to the status of objective truth. We can then recognize the non-Christian assumptions and methods that have permeated our thinking. We will once again begin practicing theistic science (and economics, and law, etc.) because it will once again seem appropriate to consult all that we know when doing these activities. Intelligent Design is seeking to do just that in the realm of science, but is encountering resistance among Christians who don’t yet recognize the conflict as one over competing worldviews. This resistance is even among Reformed Christians, where worldview thinking has a long and rich history. What this tells me is that the conflict runs deep, and that time, wisdom, and humility are needed before we can purge all wordly ways of thinking and take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

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