Review: Saving Truth

May 2, 2019 | In Church, Life

I first heard of Saving Truth on an episode of The Gospel Coalition’s podcast last year and was immediately captivated by the motives behind writing it. The author, Abdu Murray, described a society embracing autonomy and disregarding the notion of truth – a ‘Culture of Confusion’. For me, his description hit the ‘post-truth’ nail right on the head, accurately describing the changing landscape we see around us. As someone who has developed an interest in studying and dissecting worldview as a means of understanding people’s objections to the Gospel of Jesus, Murray’s analysis of the culture through a biblical lens was insightful and helpful in coming to grips with our fast-changing culture.

My first impressions of the book, as I began to read the opening chapter, was “Wow, this guy is smart, and I’m going to have a hard time getting my head around this!“. However, it became clear that Murray’s experience in communicating publically allows him to communicate complex philosophical ideas, in a concise and easy-to-understand way. The stories that Murray has collected from his time interacting in debate and discussion, particularly on university campuses across America, provide clear examples of the culture he describes – one he claims is caused by allowing autonomy, emotions and personal preferences to overrule truth.

Through 9 chapters, Murray provides a survey of the current post-truth culture, guides the reader through some topical issues, and then gently points the reader to Jesus to find clarity in the present-day confused culture. I was deeply affected by the second chapter where Murray reflects on how the desire for autonomy and personal preference over truth has infiltrated the Church. As I read the chapter, I thought of many situations where myself, or Jesus-following people I know, have fallen into the traps that entice, where we have subtly elevated self-preferences (and preservation) over the gospel. He helpfully lays out strong foundations, namely “integrity and courage”, for positively changing the often negative “perceptions of the church and the gospel it carries”. I could almost recommend the book on just chapters 1 and 2 alone, given the insight and challenge they offer for leaders in our Christian communities.

Chapters 4 through 8 deal with some of the big issues of the present day. I imagine that Murray chose these topics (including Human Dignity and Science) based on the frequency he gets asked about these topics in his travels, but I would have been interested to see how his ‘Culture of Confusion’ intersected with additional topics. The topics he has chosen, he handles well, though I wish the middle topic on Sex, Gender and Identity had been broken into two smaller chapters to aid slow readers like me (I do admit that doing this would have been difficult).

Each of these ‘big issue’ chapters is written with a balanced understanding of the issue at hand from both sides of the Christian/non-Christian divide. Murray’s background as a former Muslim and as a lawyer have certainly aided in presenting the world-views of the people holding opposing positions. The previously mentioned examples of conversations from his travels, often used at the start of each chapter, also provide a good frame for identifying the ‘Culture of Confusion’ in the minds of the many people he’s spoken with. It’s with his understanding and these frames that we are skilfully shown how the Bible’s teaching on these issues, and biblical truth, presents a better, more wholistic alternative to the solutions the world offers.

If you are a person who is trying to make sense of living as a Christian in our quickly changing world, then this book is for you. Reading Saving Truth will help you unpack why the Christian life is the best alternative on offer, one that provides Meaning and Clarity and puts never-changing truth above fleeting personal feelings and preferences. Its present-day analysis of society is extremely helpful.

As a tool for apologetics, I’d recommend reading this book before giving it to a non-believer as it makes subtle assumptions that the reader is a Christian. Instead, it would make a great book to read together one-to-one – you and your non-Christian friend will probably both learn much along the way!

Finally, if you find that Murray doesn’t cover the topic you are most interested in, I’d suggest pairing Saving Truth with books like Joined Up Life (Andrew Cameron) or Think Christianly (Jonathon Morrow). Saving Truth will give you a solid foundation in understanding current culture, and exploring secondary sources will only help you add more topic-specific insight from other authors.

If you would like to support my writing, please head on over to The Wandering Bookseller (if you are in Australia) or Book Depository (rest of the world) to buy this book – both with free shipping!

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