I had the privilege of participating in the publication of Carl Trueman’s latest book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution*, published by Crossway (where—full disclosure—I work as an editor). The book is a timely volume for explaining much about where we are in Western culture today and how the road to get here stretches back a lot farther than most of us typically think. While it feels like sexual mores have shifted at an incredibly rapid pace in recent decades, Trueman shows how the groundwork for such shifts were laid even back in the eighteenth century and how they involve much more than merely sex.
Since I was involved in the project myself, it seems better to point readers to others who are giving the book acclaim.
For starters, Trueman’s book received the award for best 2020 book in public theology and current events at the Gospel Coalition. The judges conclude:
Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self is perhaps the most significant analysis and evaluation of Western culture written by an evangelical during the past 50 years. Any Christian who wants to understand the social, cultural, and political convulsions that the West in general, and the United States in particular, are now experiencing should read this book. Trueman’s work is undergirded by a sound biblical, historical, and systematic theology, conversant with many of the most important primary texts and works of cultural commentary, and written in a lucid and readable style. It’s a tour de force of intellectual history that will serve the church well for generations to come.
In the foreword to the book, Rod Dreher argues that Trueman’s book is “a sophisticated survey and analysis of cultural history by a brilliant teacher who is not only an orthodox Christian but also a pastor who understands the actual needs of the flock—and who, unlike so many intellectuals, can write like a dream.” He adds, “So many Christian books seek to explain the church to the modern world. But in these pages, Carl Trueman explains modernity to the church, with depth, clarity, and force. The significance of The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, arriving at this late hour, is hard to overstate.” See Dreher’s interview with Trueman at the American Conservative.
Tim Challies says this about Trueman’s book: “As I see it, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self is not only the most important book I’ve read in 2020, but also the best. I can’t recommend it too highly.”
Andrew Walker states, “In what I hope is not an overstatement, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self is the most ambitious book that Crossway has ever published in the cultural-criticism genre. I cannot recommend it enough to scholars, pastors, and laypersons. As a testament to my recommendation, it will now be required reading in every relevant course I teach.”
Trueman’s Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self* is getting a lot of attention for a good reason—it addresses issues that are pressing in our world today. But he does so in a way that is not always intuitive to our modern culture: by looking at the subject through the lens of intellectual history. I recommend the book on many levels, but don’t take my word for it. Consider the other voices who are pointing to this volume as a crucial book for our time.
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