What do I think of Carl Trueman’s book published by Crossway publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
This is one of those books that I was recommending practically immediately as I got into it. Carl Trueman has written a look at how the self has come to be in our times and the implications it has for our society. Now some of you might be curious about that. “Haven’t there always been selves? Why is this so strange to talk about the coming of the self?”
Yes, there have always been selves, but the self has not always been understood the same way. In the past, self was often connected with religion, family, and nation. Now, self has been disjointed. Self comes through who you are within. While we have always had feelings, those feelings have never defined us. Now, they normally do.
In the past, it was thought that culture civilized a man, but centuries ago, Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued the opposite. Man was pure in his natural state. It is culture that makes him what he is often not. This would include the effect of technology and the sciences.
From here, we continue down a path of more and more looking inward to find who you are. Marx had his impact with putting man against society. Nietzsche announced the death of God and said the Earth had been untethered from its sun. Unlike today’s modern atheists, Nietzsche knew the serious ramifications of the death of God. Freud started us down the path of making our main identity be the sexual identity.
Today then, we live in a culture where we don’t know who we are and our identities are psychological. The problem is that psychology is often flexible and fluid so we have no stable basis for identity. At the same time also, how can you argue against what someone else is feeling? We live in a world where the feelings are true and when someone gets in touch with their feelings, they are experiencing their true selves.
Along the way here, we talk about being authentic. How can you deny your true self? Now in a sense, there is some good in authenticity. Jesus had a lot to say about hypocrisy, However, the problem comes with when we think that every feeling is something that must be lived out. It starts with assuming that man is innately good, per Rousseau, and we still have the effects.
Today, the biggest way we are seeing this is the LGBTQ movement. This is one of the biggest results of feelings being given the ultimate authority. Tolerance would never have worked for the LGBTQ movement because that would be seen as putting someone in a lesser state and denying their personhood. After all, if your identity is based on your sexual desires and behavior, then to question those is to question your humanity. If people have this mindset, love the sinner and hate the sin does not work.
The self has been redefined, but now we are going further. The family is being redefined. All of this is done as we keep looking inside ourselves to find out who we are. Emotions and feelings become the main moving forces in our lives and they are to be obeyed and treated as the main authority. Our courts are moving more and more this way and the path won’t stop.
We are becoming a society where the goal is to always feel good and be happy. This has even happened in the churches. Don’t like your church? Go to another one. Now some Catholics and Orthodox readers might say “We don’t have that problem” but they do as well. Church is a choice and the Catholic and the Orthodox have to be given a reason to keep coming to church. They can just as easily stay home.
As our culture becomes more and more of a self-focused culture, the church is going to be on the hard end of matters as we return more and more to Roman Empire times and the state assumes control. For all of us, the challenge will likely come sometime. Will we risk getting fired because we won’t use a certain person’s pronouns of choice? Will we have our businesses be destroyed because we refuse to bake a cake for a “gay wedding” ceremony?
This is definitely a book where I say to get it and read it and learn it. The one who told me about this book said they read it once every year. I could very well start that myself as well.
This book is also a smaller version of a bigger book of his on this topic, so it is also accessible for everyone. It would be one of the best books for a church book study to do. Bottom line: Get this book and learn it.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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