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In an ocean of lies, the truth is our anchor

Review of The Lies We Are Told, the Truth we Must Hold: Worldviews and their consequences
by Sharon James

Christian Focus Publications, Fearn, Scotland, 2022

Reviewed by Lucien Tuinstra

book-cover

When a book carries a title like The Lies We are told, the Truth we Must Hold (hereafter LWAT), it certainly makes you want to read it, and so you should.1

Its author is Dr Sharon James, a Social Policy Analyst for The Christian Institute (UK) and spokesperson for Coalition for Marriage.2 She studied history at University of Cambridge, theology at Toronto Baptist Seminary, and has a PhD from the University of Wales. She is married, with two children. Some of her previous books are: God’s design for women, How Christianity transformed the world, and Gender ideology: what do Christians need to know?

LWAT is divided in two parts: Part one (the lies) consists of six chapters, part two (the truth) has three. Each chapter ends with suggestions for further reading—listed also at the back of the book—and a helpful paragraph summarising the chapter. There are also person and subject indices.

Part one: Lies

As with any coherent presentation of the Gospel, LWAT starts off with bad news. That is, the reader gets a historic overview of various aspects of the secular worldview and the negative consequences they have had, and continue to have, on society. Much of the thinking in those paradigms is at odds with the Bible, but perfectly compatible with evolution.

Evolution is an ideology that makes it possible to consider a life without a god, says James in a recent interview.3 Within a secular worldview, she points out in LWAT, “[a]ll reality is made up only of matter” (p. 31). Therefore, as she states in the interview, any rules are merely social constructs.4 States (authoritarian or not) take the place of God—or become a substitute god—and they determine what is acceptable and what is not.5

James describes how Western society has moved on from modernism to postmodernism, and lists many of the key influencers along the way, and their views on a range of issues. Typically, those views are anti-family, and are progressively getting worse.6 She writes that the “intellectual elite in the West accuses America of being the ‘matrix of oppression’, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands would do [and actually do] anything to have the opportunity to settle there” (p. 71). What is happening in many western countries now, is that individual rights are being eroded and subjected to group identity and ‘social justice’ (p. 69). One piece of advice that proponents of such group-think would need to heed if they were to pull this off, is provided by Italian communist Antonio Gramsci:

“Never […] tire of repeating arguments … repetition is the best didactic means for working on the popular mentality.”7

people-looking-at-their-phones
People glued to their screens

What better scenario could anyone wanting to enslave the West to authoritarianism wish for, than a society glued to their screens, be it mainstream TV or echo-chambers like social media; that is, so long as those so inclined control those media. James affirms as much when she writes, “[i]f you control language, you control the debate” (p. 109).

We see this in the Church as well, with those who adhere to evolution but profess to believe that Scripture is inerrant. They often argue that the text should not be taken as written, and can mean something other than what the author intended. James explains, “The meaning has to be created by the reader … The ‘plain meaning’ of the text can always be challenged, or subverted”. French author Roland Barthes wrote about this. James sees the irony and quips, “that we must not apply Barthes’ theory to Barthes’ own words” (p. 118).

Double standards

With an inconsistent worldview you inevitably run into the need of using two sets of rules. Rules for you, and rules for me. For instance, James writes about French philosopher Michel Foucault condemning medics in hospitals as authoritarian, yet the staff in La Salpetriere hospital still cared for him when he was dying of AIDS (p. 119); I suppose he was incoherently thankful in his final hours.

There’s a whole worldview littered with double standards, namely Marxism, which can be summed up as follows:

“Everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.”8

A current example of this would be those politicians or activists in some Western nations who are calling for a defunding of the police, while spending tax-payer’s money on their own private security.

Sharon James points out that “Black Lives Matter (BLM) was founded in 2013 by three self-described ‘trained Marxists’” (p. 154). A now-removed section of the BLM website reads:

“We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

Apparently, the former BLM executive director herself was not so comfortable with the ‘villages’ idea and had a fence erected around her 1.4-million-dollar estate.9 If one insists on defunding the police, one may want to consider alternative means of protecting one’s capital in a fallen world.10

In case anyone thinks that disrupting the nuclear family is a good thing for society, James reports:

“Children born to married parents and brought up by their own parents, do better on every measure: health, education, employment, mental stability. No amount of state intervention, state funding or social care, can compensate for lack of parental involvement throughout childhood and adolescence.” (p. 225)

The Church

Sharon James notes that, in all this, the ‘inclusive’ church has not played a laudable role in defending the Christian faith because of their insistence on “placing human experience in judgement over Scripture” (p. 176). To make the Bible more palatable to ‘the world’, its reinterpretation provided the so-called “educated, intelligent and cultured” (as quoted on p. 172) with a reason to ignore Christianity, instead of embracing it. Once liberalism takes hold of the church, according to American theologian Richard Niebuhr, you inevitably end up with the following anaemic version of Christianity:

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgement through the ministration of a Christ without a cross.”11

James adds, “the real reason people in England stopped going to church was the prevailing unbelief of the clergy” (p. 172). Indeed. Why on earth would anyone join a group of people who don’t actually believe the words they claim are inspired by God?

Part two: Truth

The reigning paradigm rules in the hearts of those who it subjugates. The author explains:

“Brought up with a worldview where the windows are firmly closed, they have no external reference point. There is no recognition of the transcendent God, or any reality beyond the material. They have to work out who they are by looking within, or else by comparison with others.” (p. 205)

fake-news-typewriter
Who controls the narrative?

What does that look like in the 21st century? Most people’s preferred social media platforms are full of breath-taking excursions, best selfies and happy moments, their own and those of their friends. The reality of this may (should) trigger a reality check. Why is it that, in spite of all these recorded special moments, people’s lives are sometimes boring and mundane? Why are they not riddled with excitement and joyous occasions? Are those social media timelines a fake image of the people they portray?

How do we distinguish between what is true and real these days? James questions some of the affirmative action/positive discrimination being advanced in Western society:

“If women are promoted to make up quotas, or if members of minority groups are given jobs to fulfil targets, who knows whether that is because of their own ability, or whether they are simply there to tick the official boxes?”

It’s a fair point. Martin Luther King famously had a dream, “that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”12 He hoped people would not be excluded from certain positions because of the way they look. Nowadays, it seems we have gone to the other extreme, giving people positions just because of the way they look.

Concluding remarks

At first glance, this book might seem to target a somewhat conservative Christian audience, but that would be limiting its scope. Since part one gives an overview of history and worldviews with their consequences, even if a person does not believe the Bible as God’s Word, it is still important knowledge. The one thing we have learned from history, is that we frequently don’t learn from history! Part two deals with the biblical worldview and its true representation of man, but also with the solution to our reprehensible state of affairs.

Dr Sharon James challenges us all by asking:

“If you were given the choice of living in a community where the majority obeyed the Ten Commandments, or one where they were consistently broken, which would be the safer and happier community?” (p. 243)

The answer is obvious, even to hardened atheists. Richard Dawkins is on record as acknowledging:

“There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.”13

Published: 31 March 2022

References and notes

  1. James, S., The Lies we are Told, the Truth we Must Hold: Worldviews and their consequences, Christian Focus Publications, Fearn, Scotland, 2022. Return to text.
  2. Britain’s leading campaign group supporting traditional marriage, c4m.org.uk. Return to text.
  3. Ciarán Kelly of The Christian Institute speaks to Sharon James about her new book on worldviews and their consequences; specifically from 6:45 onwards. The Christian Institute, The Lies We Are Told, The Truth We Must Hold, christian.org.uk, 18 January 2022 | christian.org.uk/resource/the-lies-we-are-told-the-truth-we-must-hold/. Return to text.
  4. Ref. 3, 10:50. Return to text.
  5. Ref. 3, 13:10. Return to text.
  6. Ref. 3, 8:39. Return to text.
  7. Gramsci, A., Prison notebooks, p. 651, 1929–1935; quoted on p. 107 of ref. 1. Return to text.
  8. This is the maxim from George Orwell’s 1945 novel, Animal Farm. Strictly, the quotation is, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” a sign posted by the pigs in Orwell’s satirical fable about the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Stalinist era that followed. Return to text.
  9. Phillips, M., BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors erects fencing and electric gate around her new $1.4M home: report, foxnews.com, 11 June 2021. Return to text.
  10. Of course it is entirely possible that Patrisse Cullors’ (formerly BLM) other three homes are more ‘village’ like. Return to text.
  11. Niebuhr, R., The Kingdom of God in America, Weslyan University Press, Connecticut, 1988. Return to text.
  12. King, M. L., “I Have a Dream”, 28 August 1963. Return to text.
  13. Gledhill, R., Scandal and schism leave Christians praying for a ‘new Reformation’, thetimes.co.uk, 2 April 2010. Return to text.