How do we make sense of this cultural moment?

Jan 20, 2021 by

from Psephizo:

Dr Philip Jenson offers a review article on Carl R. Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2020).

At the end of 2020 Carl Trueman published a book that tells the story of an inexorable and irreversible cultural shift that shapes modern thinking and discourse. It is a demanding read, so it is helpful that he sums up the argument more succinctly in various places (e.g. here, here, here, and the first chapter is available as a pdf). He has also taken part in various podcasts and interviews (e.g. here, here, and here). I am not sure that I am the best person to review this weighty volume, since my own speciality is the Old Testament. However, precisely because I am immersed in a text that belongs to a very different world, I have had to engage with why those living in the modern world frequently find the biblical world alien and offensive. What follows is a selective account of Trueman’s thesis, and some reflections on its potential relevance.

Basically Trueman seeks to give an account of the revolution in Western thought and culture that has led to the modern idea of the self. The nearest equivalent is the work of Charles Taylor in his two surveys, The Sources of the Self (1989), and A Secular Age (2007). Taylor is a major influence on Trueman, along with Alasdair MacIntyre and someone whom I had not encountered before, Philip Rieff. The presenting issue for him is the sentiment now common in transgender discourse, ‘I am a woman trapped in a man’s body.’ But from the beginning he argues that what matters is not first of all how we understand sex and gender, but how we perceive the self. It is the revolutionary invention and triumph of the modern self that is central to the story that he tells.

Read here

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