Book Review: The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

by Carl R. Trueman; Crossway Books, 2020 (425 pages)

Accessibility rating 3 (out of 5)

Recommendation rating 5 (out of 5)

(Note: This first book review is about two-parts description [to inform a potential reader] and one-part analysis and critique. This ratio may change with subsequent reviews.)


Carl Trueman, professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College, offers a rather extensive analysis of the historical roots that have yielded the contemporary understanding of the western self. Trueman argues modern selfhood is understood as a predominately-psychological structure, and fully detached from any sense of the sacred. It is rather unencumbered by external reality and is largely a function of one’s own subjective personal tastes. These tastes are limited only by the plausibility boundaries set by the surrounding culture, which is itself a product of the same intellectual history that produced the modern self. What is of particular note, according to Trueman, is what is absent. In addition to jettisoning sacredness, the modern self denies any real meaning associated with the physical body. As the book unfolds, the reader is walked down a fragmented, circuitous, but ultimately confluent pathway through several post-reformation intellectual movements which the author asserts have resulted in the creation of the modern self, a hyper–internalized, hyper–sexualized, and hyper–politicized entity.

Although more than incidentally referencing dozens of important historical and contemporary thinkers, the main voices featured in the manuscript are (in alphabetical order); Sigmund Freud, Alasdair MacIntyre, Herbert Marcuse, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, William Reich, Philip Rieff, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Percy Bysshe Shelly, Peter Singer, Charles Taylor, and William Wadsworth. The professional range and intellectual weight of these individuals reflects well the manuscripts comprehensiveness.  

The book is organized into four parts: Architecture of the Revolution; Foundations of the Revolution; Sexualization of the Revolution; and Triumphs of the Revolution; each part being composed of at least two chapters. At the end, a concluding chapter seeks to offer some reflections regarding what the thesis of the book means for the contemporary church, for the contemporary Christian. In addition to this formal structure, the book is rhetorically organized around a particular statement, presented in the introduction and then revisited several times throughout the book, which the author argues both captures the essence of the modern self and places it in stark contrast to previous understandings of selfhood. The statement is, “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body.” The author has little doubt that if his grandfather, who died in 1994, would have ever heard this phrase uttered, he would have found it to be nonsensical to the point of laughter. However, today it is widely viewed as deeply meaningful, and in fact, so significant that only those who are either stupid or immoral would dare call the base claim into question. Trueman sets out to explain how this cultural transformation came about, and why it seems to have happened so quickly.

Part 1, Architecture of the Revolution, is composed of two chapters, “Reimagining the Self” and “Reimagining Our Culture.” The first explores the make-up of the social imagination, that range of social actions and plausibilities that dynamically and unconsciously emerge over time when people groups gather in collectives. It is the cultural water in which a given community of people swim. Trueman persuasively argues that the social imagination of the West has become, over the past 400 years, decidedly “internal” in nature. Here the writings and ideas of sociologist Philip Rieff and philosopher Charles Taylor are referenced heavily as the case is made for the adjectives “psychological” and “expressive,” with respective reference, to be understood as the most apt descriptors of human self-perception. Over the past few centuries, Trueman observes, the basis for finding personal meaning has shifted, from an outside, mimetic world possessing intrinsic purpose and meaning to which we must respond, to an inside, poietic world where meaning emerges only in response to our constructed efforts. The way we understand the self, Trueman argues, has been turned outside in.

The following chapter explores the work of Rieff, Taylor, and MacIntyre as sources of explanation for the evolution of culture. The Freudian-inspired sociologist Rieff, repurposing the terms first, second, and third worlds, describes how cultures justify their morality. “First world” cultures justify moral life through pagan beliefs based on myths that emphasize fate; “second world” cultures use the lens of faith (notably Christianity) to interpret and clarify the moral impulse; but “third world” cultures, cultures that have abandoned sacredness and transcendence, can only justify a moral life within themselves. Taylor, seeking to explain this same progression, uses the terms “transcendental frame” and “immanent frame” to describe this shift away from the teleological. Finally, Trueman brings in philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre’s observation that this shift has resulted in the modern moral discussion existing within a framework where there is no longer a strong community consensus on the nature and proper ends of human existence. This progression is the first building block of Trueman’s argument. This progression, triggered by the vacuum of meaning left from a desacralized world, has generated an expressive-individualized perception of self, framed the pathway for the development of ethical discussions, and constrained a particular understanding of history (notably, as the story of the powerful oppressing the expression of one’s true identity).

Part 2, Foundations of the Revolution, contains three chapters, the first exploring the ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, followed by two chapters on important post-enlightenment poets and philosopher/thinkers respectively. With Rousseau, Trueman advances the notion of an inward self as the most important aspect of personhood. On the inside, Rousseau argues, is where one’s true identity lies. He couples this claim with an additional observation – that the state of nature is the ideal, and it is society or culture, existing outside of us, which is the root of our frustrations. The 18th century Genevan additionally argues that if a society becomes corrupted, human nature will be oppressed. A person, then, is most authentic when they are free to act out in public those desires and feelings that characterize their inner psychological life. From Rousseau’s Confessions, Trueman sees the foundation for the eventual claims of today’s transgender movement, where the inner voice, sans all external influences an even one’s own primary sexual characteristics, comprise the most authentic self. His presentation of Rousseau is well nuanced by recognizing his awareness of our innate socialness and the necessary validation role played by one’s community. Another important component of this chapter is the reference to amour propre, or one’s own sense of self-respect. Rousseau sees the claim for dignity emerging not from the validation of others, and certainly not bestowed from above, but rather coming from within; for Rousseau, the gaining of self-worth is an inside job.

Next, Trueman devotes an entire chapter to the works and ideas of William Wadsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelly, and William Blake. It is through these poets that the author seeks to show how Rousseau’s ideas of the psychological self influenced culture indirectly through the intellectual movement known as Romanticism. The movement was premised on the belief that the arousal of feelings creates meaning and significance, not vice-versa. The dehumanizing effects of the industrial revolution, Wadsworth believed, had blunted human sentiment and left us to seek out the sensational as we attempt to fill the created void. Feelings, aroused properly, more subtly and in the context of nature, would reposition one’s heart by calling it back to a simpler, more genuine, understanding of reality. For Shelley, nature is the unseen power behind the poet and poetry; and poetry, then, is what calls the reader back to the universal truths of human nature, thus yielding the needed balm to soothe the disillusioned modern soul. Throughout the chapter, Trueman uses poetic works like The Revolt of Islam and Queen Mab to walk the reader from these premises to a set of political, religious, and societal implications that move us in the direction of the modern self. Trueman concludes the chapter by noting that once aesthetics becomes detached from a universal understanding of human nature, then personal preference alone can be the driver of what we believe to be right and wrong. In a phrase, taste has become truth.

The last chapter in Part 2 describes the emergence of “plastic people.” By this, Trueman means the acquired 20th century belief that people can make and remake their personal identity at will. The constituents for the argument include Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, and Charles Darwin. Darwin’s thesis suggests there is no distinct essence to being human. Humans are simply the name assigned to what our particular life form is at this current moment in history. We are not given a purpose from on high; like all other life forms, we are merely the current manifestations of strictly natural processes that push organisms from one to another ecological niche, by processes governed by nothing more than the brute facts of reproduction and survival. The life form known as humans were something different in the past and will be something else in the future. And more to the point, human nature is also in flux. Nietzsche helps us see that there is no longer a transcendent or objective foundation for our nature or our destiny; for moderns to speak of either is to be merely blowing smoke. We have finally jettisoned the shackles of false beliefs, constructed by an ignorant and perhaps manipulative Christian church, which told us that humans have end purposes. We can now live for the present and let pleasure be our arbiter of action. Marx observes that the removal of a grand design opens us up to a clearer understanding of history. It is a much simpler story now, with the use and abuse of power as the only analytical tool needed; this golden-thread variable weaves all events into one meta-narration, that of the oppressors and the oppressed. Though aspects of these thinkers’ ideas do not seamlessly dovetail with one another, a common element between them is felt with force: personal meaning can only be self-made; it is not discovered.

Part 3, Sexualization of the Revolution, includes two chapters; the first describes the influence of Sigmund Freud, the second the politicization of sex and what Trueman terms the “New Left.” If the first step in explaining the modern self addresses its psychologization, and the second its secularization, this section speaks to the third step – its’ sexualization. If true identity is internal, and if the brute and unredeemed natural forces are the only tools at work, then Freud helps us see that our sexuality must be at the core of our identity. The affections associated with the necessary act of reproduction must sit at the very center of what it means to be human. Sex shapes our thinking and behavior in profound, although not always consciously detectable, ways. Trueman reminds us that, although Freud’s original theories are viewed critically by contemporary social scientists, the current status of classical psychoanalysis is of little consequence. Sex as the primary, albeit oftentimes hidden, motivator is now part of the modern social imagination. Our purpose has not been set by a transcendent being; it is not to be found in the striving to become. Rather, we are free to seek satisfaction in the here and now and the immediate pleasures of the present. Trueman reaches a bit further to suggest that this trio of realizations (the psychologization, secularization, and sexualization of the self) are now infiltrating all social institutions, including the educational system where many policy makers seem to be on mission both to eliminate the religious impulses of children and to liberate their psychological and sexual ones.

The following chapter explores the ostensibly awkward merging of the psychologically minded Freud with the economically minded Marx. Their mashup was cultivated, argues Trueman, by the writings of psychologist Erich Fromm, anchored in his observation that both perspectives understand the development of human selfhood to be the result of a dynamic, naturalistic evolutionary process. Trueman then hands the ball off to Wilhelm Reich and Herbert Marcuse, suggesting these mid-20th century social thinkers were instrumental in the welding together of private sexuality and politics. Substantial space is allotted to this phase of the book’s argument and multiple references are made to Reich’s The Sexual Revolution (1936) and Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization (1955) and One-Dimensional man (1964). Wrapping up the chapter, Trueman notes a couple of the more peculiar features of this unification; first, the politicized sexuality of our day has been detached from its Nietzschean anti-essentialism roots, and second, the cultural criticisms of both Freud and Marx have been dropped. Nonetheless, Trueman argues that these lines of thought have served to generate the currently widely held belief that one’s sexual tastes define one’s identity. This dogmatic belief has now penetrated all levels of society – from pop and consumer culture to intellectual and political culture. Human purpose has been reborn, but it now bats bedroom eyes.

Part 4, Triumphs of the Revolution, contains three chapters examining three triumphs: that of the erotic, the therapeutic, and the transsexual, respectively. The first chapter examines how sex and sexuality has come to be a pervasive component in virtually every aspect of life. The analysis starts with the surrealism movement in art with its roots in Freudian thought and the idea that dreams can serve as a guide to truth. Trueman argues that surrealism did not simply make sexual imagery more respectable; far more consequentially, it facilitated in altering the perceived value of pornography, from something harmful and detrimental to something good and healthy. The chapter goes on to examine more closely the mainstreaming of pornography in culture, the complex and shifting relationship between pornography and feminism, the interpersonal and social significance of the cultural acceptance of pornography, and the long-term societal implications that come with a diminishment of sexual ethics.

The middle chapter in Part 4 deals with the dramatic change in public ethics that has resulted from the muscle flexing of the triumphant psychological and expressive self. Trueman captures this moral shift by examining a series of court cases, the current framework for ethical thought found in our vanguard universities, and the rise and tenor of student behavior on our nation’s campuses in recent years. Several pages are devoted to the language and rationale used in four important Supreme Court cases, going back to 1992 and culminating in the Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) decision that legalized homosexual marriage. Next Trueman points out the surprising yet revealing rationale of Princeton professor of ethics, Peter Singer, regarding the status of the fetus and neonate. Interestingly, Singer finds fault with every pro-abortion argument typically advanced by its advocates, only to then articulate a new rationale, that, in the end, not only justifies abortion but also infanticide. His rationale is simply this, now that we know intrinsic human value does not exist, we are free to discard unwanted life which does not reach the threshold definition of personhood; for Singer, this would include prenatal and recently birthed life. Finally, Trueman looks at the curious trend to limit free speech on many university campuses. This development is explained by referencing the psychologized self as well as Marcuse’s idea that toleration of words and images that might promote or reinforce views of self-understanding that challenge self-expression must be censored. Perplexingly, freedom of expression, in Marcusian-speak, is just another venue by which the majority oppresses the minority; ergo censorship can become necessary for liberation.

The last chapter of Part 4, and penultimate chapter of the book, is the climactic chapter; zeroing-in on the primary analytical target, the transgenderism phenomenon, dramatized by the statement, “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body.” The chapter astutely points out the inherent conflict between those who accept the binary gendered schema but who desire room for same-sexual behaviors (i.e., the L’s and the G’s) with those for whom gender is non-binary and non-binding (i.e., the T’s). The history of the tension between these three groups over the past half-century is briefly reviewed, with an emphasis placed on describing the eventual creation of politically expedient peace treaties. Trueman notes that it is an unstable truce, however, as the legitimization of T necessarily results in a destabilization of the L and the G as meaningful categories. But perhaps the greatest tension point is the removal from the female experience the biological nature of the female body. Trueman, when commenting on the transgendered forced redefinition with others, references the work of radical feminist writer Germaine Greer who reminds us that there is an unconsulted witness to the transsexual’s script. She is one who built the transsexual’s body within her own and brought it up as her son or daughter; the transsexual’s mother is his/her worst enemy, a testimony which must be excised from the script. The ultimate manifestation of expressive individualism may be the posture of the one who dismisses the input of parents (as well as all other life investors) and even denies the material reality of the chromosomal structure of every cell in their body.

Significant space is also given to a description of the Yogyakarta Principles, a document produced to reflect the outcomes of a 2006 international meeting (held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia) that focused on the human rights associated with sexual orientation and gender identity. Trueman uses many of the concepts developed earlier in the book as tools to dissect and unpack the rationale that underpins the primary assertions and pronouncements contained in the document. The arbitrary nature of many of the core terms is likewise pointed out. For instance, Trueman argues the term “sexual orientation” has no in-principle reason to exclude pedophilia or zoophilia, these particular behaviors being excluded, apparently, for mere conventional, and perhaps political, reasons. The author concludes by noting that the internal structure of the LGBTQ+ movement epitomizes the current age. It is a coalition defined by its rejection of past norms, containing a sizeable measure of amnesia regarding the history of its own argument for viability, and is a “deathwork.” Trueman’s uses this term, coined by Rieff, to describe an all-out assault upon something vital to the established culture. In this instance, it is the coopting of the language of marriage, love, and family to undermine and destroy their original meaning.

The final chapter termed “Concluding Unscientific Prologue,” sits outside of the 4-part structure of the book and contains the author’s recommendations for the contemporary church. While acknowledging the value of lament, Trueman reminds the Christian reader that this should not be the summative response. We are called to be faithful and to respond to a hurting and lost culture, not as we once imagined it to be, or as we wish it to be, but rather as the culture is, presently. The chapter first address the relationship between the church and several features of the irreligious zeitgeist of the age, including secularism, the anticulture, and the LGBTQ+ debate. This is followed with a suggested playbook for the church in terms of addressing a series of issues, namely sexual morality, gay marriage, transgenderism, and religious freedom.

Trueman’s advice to the faithful is expressed in three challenges. First, Trueman encourages the church to evaluate carefully the connection it has emphasized in modern times between aesthetics and the core beliefs of the Christian faith. By aesthetics, Trueman means the expression of taste and personal narrative. Might the church’s emphasis on personal testimonies as the measure of God’s work in the world be a Christianized version of expressive individualism? To elevate personal experience in such a way within the church may have weakened its ability to criticize those who seek to advance expressive individualism. Second, the church must recover a fuller and more robust sense of community. Trueman reminds us that if Hegel (and Taylor) are correct, selfhood is being socially constructed through interacting with communities of other selves; this developmental process has tremendous implications for Christian community. If the current understanding of selfhood is unchecked expressive individualism, then the task for the church is to cultivate a more accurate understanding of the self. As nation-states, cities, and physical communities dissolve in this new technological age, we must remember that humans still have a fundamental need to belong and to be in community. Furthermore, Trueman suggests that the church needs to learn about building community from other types of successful communities, including LGBTQ+ communities, places where real human needs are being compassionately met. Finally, Trueman challenges Protestants in particular to recover both a deep understanding of natural law and a high view of the physical body. The author clarifies that a Christian’s familiarity with natural law is not primarily for the purposes of winning arguments with a secular world, but rather to help themselves and other believers understand better why the church takes particular positions on contemporary moral issues. With regard to a theology of the body, the Protestant emphasis on the preached word and profession-of-faith response has resulted, perhaps, in a de-emphasizing of the corporeal components of the faith, a diminishment of the importance of our physicality. A rediscovery of a biblical understanding of embodiment seems to be critical.

Analysis and Critique

In reflection on this work, there is a tremendous amount to commend (it is, arguably, the most important book I have read in 2021), but first a few comments of critique. I have organized my comments into those pertaining to “the past,” “the current,” and “the future.” First to the past. I might suggest that Trueman, when looking at the growing prevalence and cultural acceptance of sexual permissiveness, could have more broadly contextualized this history. I will tread very lightly here; Trueman rightly notes that sexual norms and behaviors are changing, and changing dramatically. Furthermore, there are aspects of the current situation that are unique. For example, the internet has provided a distribution mechanism to facilitate the exposure and entice the consumption of sexually explicit and exploitative materials on a scale that just a century ago would have been unimaginable. Nonetheless, perhaps Trueman’s analysis of the present could have been positioned within a broader context by noting that the prevalence of the sexual deviancy we now see exploding in our culture is not unprecedented. For instance, Holland (2019) as well as others have recently helped us realize the extent and disturbing nature of the sexual behavior found in antiquity, as well as the dramatic effect that Christianity, and basically only Christianity, had on the eventual and dramatic curtailing of assaultive sexual practices across the Roman Empire. Furthermore, the effect of Christianity on the sexual practices of contemporary pagan cultures bears a similar pattern. At a minimum, a broader perspective, if it had been presented, might have created a stronger basis for a greater sense of hope associated with the challenges and advice Trueman offers the church.

I have three comments to make regarding Trueman’s description of the current state. First, I would note that despite the culturally corrosive effects associated with the politicization of sexuality and the recent legal decisions changing the definition of marriage, religious freedom is as strong in this country as it has ever been. Constitutional lawyers such as David French (e.g., 2020) remind us that religious Americans enjoy the protection of a federal “super statute,” a law hovering over and above all other federal laws providing extraordinary protection. Admittedly, there are forceful cultural headwinds, but these headwinds were not created by a series of legal blows diminishing religious liberty. It would do Trueman’s readership well to be reminded that this is contest of ideas, a contest of narratives; and the faithful are just as free as they ever have been to make their cases and tell their stories to the on-looking culture. If only we will care enough for our neighbors, communities, and culture to do so. This leads to my second point; I believe the cultural battlefield is not quite the lost cause that Trueman, occasionally, seems to suggest. Even some secular voices (widely read secular voices, I might add) are beginning to point out and push back on some of the logical inconsistencies that Trueman rightly finds in expressive individualism. A couple examples that come to mind are Jonathan Haidt’s work on moral psychology (Haidt, 2013) and in support of free speech (Lukianoff & Haidt, 2019) and Douglas Murray’s (2021) forceful critique of a Marxist understanding of personhood (an author who, while he identifies as gay, nonetheless presses culture to stop and carefully consider where it is going). My point here is that on several occasions in the book Trueman correctly notes that all notions of rationality have been set aside as the New Left works to advance their goals of normalizing radical expressive individualism, but it is not only he and other Christian thinkers who are taking note. Trueman’s readers deserve to be shown the cultural landscape accurately and with some nuance. Oversimplifications can lead to fear-based reactions, cultural entrenchment, and missed opportunities for partnerships and, even more importantly, personal relationships. Lastly, I was a little confused by the suspicion Trueman often attached to the term “human dignity.” On several occasions early in the book, Trueman seems to suggest that appeals to human dignity were to blame for offering a defense for some of the extravagances of expressive individualism (perhaps most notably on page 67). In a few places, Trueman appears to argue that human dignity was formerly understood to be the byproduct of a given social order (pgs 67, 126), but is now understood, Trueman implies unfortunately, as an egalitarian concept. A careful reading and an analysis of the terms usage later in the book (e.g., pgs 331 and 387) reveals Trueman’s belief that a proper understanding of human dignity emanates not from a self-manufactured internal force, nor from a social order, but rather from a sacred order. I wholeheartedly agree, assuming by “sacred order” it is meant the historic understanding of Imago Dei.  My comments here are two-fold. First, I believe the concept of human dignity is at risk of being redefined as the value we give to ourselves and which we should be persuaded to give to others. But this assignment of value comes from our humanness and is merely a form a species self-preference. Each opportunity for people of faith to clarify the Christian understanding of human dignity and to lay-claim to the more substantial meaning of this term should be taken (i.e., dignity is bestowed upon us uniformly from outside the human experience; it is not an invented idea – it is a discovered truth). Second, I would encourage readers to carefully consider the implications of the historic, orthodox understanding of the Imago Dei; that each and every person, whether they acknowledge it or not, are made in the image of God and, as a result, have immeasurable value bestowed upon them by their Creator. Furthermore, that every divine image-bearer is loved by God and is being pursued by Him. This realization should color how the church approaches cultural battles and how we individually approach others, especially different others. Are Jesus-followers going to allow themselves to be used by God in his pursuit of those who bear his image, or do we understand God’s claim on people to be somehow limited? An orthodox and robust understanding of human dignity sits in the balance.

In terms of the author’s thoughts about the future, Trueman wisely advises the faithful in the final chapter to avoid succumbing to the cheap masochistic pleasure of merely decrying the times and instead urges them to get on with the business of understanding the times and faithfully responding to them. My comment here, again softly stated, is that the advice in the closing chapter could have stressed not only the disadvantages that come with the increasing marginalization of the faithful, but also the great opportunities that may arise precisely because of this growing marginalization. With an increased separation between the morality of orthodox Christianity and the dominant culture comes not only the risk of greater exclusion and perhaps persecution, but also a greater relief and contrast for the Christian to display their understanding of the purpose-filled life. If the Christian church does truly offer a more accurate understanding of human identity, purpose, and fulfillment, then we should be eager to demonstrate it through what we value and what we do. The Christian’s hope is in Christ and not cultural power. This hope should produce a church that, yes, maintains fidelity with the truth, but is also self-exhaustive and non-protective. Communities like that cannot be ignored in a social/political world defined by power-grabs and self-protection. To be clear, Trueman’s closing chapter does note, without despairing, the opportunities of the future; my comment is merely one of emphasis. Finally, I would have preferred a bit more caution to the unqualified way Trueman advises the faithful to adhere to Natural Law thinking. I, like other Christians, am attracted to the idea that our understandings of God, nature, and reason can form mutually supportive ways of making sense of ethics, politics, and reality in general. I would only recommend that we also realize that our knowledge of each of these modalities is still dependent upon human understanding; and human understanding, even if sanctified, is remarkably good at self-justification and maintenance of status quo. The critical additive ingredient, I would submit, is a penitent heart that is relentlessly cultivating communion with God. Although it is important to read carefully the signposts of history and discern with wisdom the confluence of theology, nature, and reason, we should also be reminded that we must recognize, first and foremost, our utter dependence upon God. I would close this section by making a simple contention: for every properly extracted theme from scripture, one can also find an unrepeated novelty. Although formula and theory are indispensable, the Bible itself informs us that we are dealing with a Someone, not a textbook; a Someone who lovingly and wantingly calls us to commune with Him.

To finish, I will point out just a few of the many positives this work has to offer. Although I am giving it an accessibility rating of 3, a motivated reader will track well with the flow of the book and appreciate the force of the argument as it builds. Furthermore, given the gravity of the topic, it deserves a broad readership. (Personally, I felt the need to go through it twice, with a few months for thought interpositioned between the readings.) The organization of the book is a strength, especially when one realizes the host of historical influences used. Furthermore, Trueman’s treatment of these ideas is sophisticated and careful. Credit should be given to the author for acknowledging the emerging disconnects and tensions that arise with his analysis, but also for the ability displayed to explain, reduce, or simply admit the need to live within the tensions they create. Although it is evident that there is a passion underlying the analysis, this manuscript is not anything like a grit-teethed tirade against a culture gone off-the-rails. Given the weightiness and sensitivity of the topics, coupled with the dramatic convulsions our culture is currently experiencing, this work comes across as a rather objective and dispassionate analysis of how we got where we are now. It concludes with a reminder that the church started out as a marginalized entity and a further reminder that we are called not to bemoan the current state of affairs, but to simply be faithful and to bear witness to the transforming power of the gospel. Trueman challenges the church to consider the ways it may have facilitated this distorted sense of self, to renew its commitment to be a bearer of Light, and to rediscover its saltiness. This book is weighty; it speaks well to our times and deserves wide circulation.

French, D. (2020, June). The True Extent of Religious Liberty in America, Explained. The Dispatch. (

Haidt, J. D. (2012). The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. Pantheon.

Lukianoff, G., & Haidt, J. D. (2019). The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. Penguin.

Holland, T. (2019). Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World, Basic Books.

Murray, D. (2019). The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, Bloomsbury.