The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman–Book Review

How did our culture get to the place we’re at today?

Why do we need to demonize and insult those with whom we disagree?

How did sex and sexual identity become political issues?

Why is free speech being rejected on college campuses and institutes of higher learning?

What effect has technology had on our understanding of the world?

When did we lose respect for history?

What does it mean to be a human being?

In this fascinating and compelling read, Carl Truesdale confronts these and other questions that trouble many of us today.  He maintains that the current changes in world view were not brought about recent events such as the “free love” of the 60’s or the LGBTQ+ alliance today, but rather through a slow molding that has taken centuries to complete.  He examines strands from philosophy, psychology, science, literature and art that have led us to reimagine our identity and our culture.


According to Trueman, we are now living in a time when many people do not accept the view that the world has a sacred order and meaning which human beings strive to discover and conform to.  Instead  the world is seen as mere raw material to be used by the individual to create their own purpose.  Our age is one of the “Psychological Man.”  The greatest good is self-actualization of the individual, which comes about through finding  personal identity and pursuing it in a way that gives pleasure.  His conclusion is that the majority today:

“… (do) not root … their social orders, their moral imperatives in anything sacred.  They do have to justify themselves, but cannot do so on the basis of something sacred or transcendent.  Instead they have to do so on the basis of themselves.  The inherent instability of this approach should be obvious.”

This is a book to read slowly and carefully.  You will learn about the ideas of Rousseau, Wordsworth, Shelley, Blake, Nietzsche, Marx. Darwin, Freud and others.  You will study movements, ideas and disciplines including radical feminism, surrealism in art, communism, romantic poetry, pornography, politics, religious choice, animal rights, pop culture and the rise of transgenderism.  You might consider Trueman’s book a crash course in Western Civilization over the past 200 years.

Trueman’s conclusions?

We’re all part of and influenced by today’s secular age.  Not everything is bad;  for example, the emphasis on human dignity is to be applauded.  Trueman predicts that gay marriage is here to stay, but possibly not the current fascination with transgenderism.  Religious freedom is likely to be curtailed.

What can Christians do?

  • Reflect long and hard on the connection between aesthetic-based logic and the core beliefs of the church
  • Recover both natural law and a high view of the physical body
  • Be a community

He compares Christians today to the church in the second century.  At that time Christianity was a marginal sect in a dominant, pluralist society, viewed suspiciously.

“This is where we are today … a pluralist society has slowly but surely adopted beliefs, especially beliefs about sexuality and identity, that render Christianity immoral and inimical to the civic stability of society as now understood.”

VERDICT:  5 Stars, You will learn a lot, if you are willing to put in the time and read deeply.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

The Lutheran Ladies received a free e-book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CPR 255.

For reviews of other Crossway Publishing books see these posts:

Lead by Paul David Tripp–Book Review

An Introduction to John Owen by Crawford Gribben–Book Review

What If I Don’t Feel Like Going to Church by Gunner Gunderson –Book Review



2 thoughts on “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman–Book Review

  1. Pingback: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B. Moore–Book Review | Lutheran Ladies Connection

  2. Pingback: The Power of Daily Practice by Eric Maisel–Book Review | Lutheran Ladies Connection

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