Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution
by Carl R. Trueman
“Carl Trueman explains modernity to the church, with depth, clarity, and force. The significance of The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self . . . is hard to overstate.” —Rod Dreher, from the Foreword
Modern culture is obsessed with identity. Since the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision in 2015, sexual identity has dominated both public discourse and cultural trends—yet no historical phenomenon is its own cause. From Augustine to Marx, various views and perspectives have contributed to the modern understanding of the self.
In this timely book, Carl Trueman analyzes the development of the sexual revolution as a symptom—rather than the cause—of the human search for identity. Trueman surveys the past, brings clarity to the present, and gives guidance for the future as Christians navigate the culture in humanity’s ever-changing quest for identity.
"This is the most important book of our moment."
—Ben Shapiro, editor emeritus for The Daily Wire; host of The Ben Shapiro Show
“The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self is perhaps the most significant analysis and evaluation of Western culture written by a Protestant during the past fifty years. If you want to understand the social, cultural, and political convulsions we are now experiencing, buy this book, and read it for all it is worth. Highly recommended.”
―Bruce Riley Ashford, Professor of Theology and Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; coauthor, The Gospel of Our King
“Carl Trueman has a rare gift for fusing the deep social insights of a Philip Rieff, a Christopher Lasch, or an Augusto Del Noce with a vital Christian faith and marvelously engaging style. Psalm 8 names the central question of every age, including our own: ‘What is man?’ In explaining the development of the modern self and the challenges it poses to human identity and happiness, Trueman makes sense of a fragmenting world. This book is essential reading for anyone concerned for sustaining the Christian faith in a rapidly changing culture.”
―Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia
“This is a characteristically brilliant book by Carl Trueman, helping the church understand why people believe that sexual difference is a matter of psychological choice. Indeed, Trueman shows how the story we tell ourselves about normalized LGBTQ+ values is false and foolish. With wisdom and clarity, Trueman guides readers through the work of Charles Taylor, Philip Rieff, British Romantic poets, and Continental philosophers to trace the history of expressive individualism from the eighteenth century to the present.”
―Rosaria Butterfield, Former Professor of English, Syracuse University; author, The Gospel Comes with a House Key
“Moderns, especially Christian moderns, wonder how our society arrived at this strange moment when nearly everything about the self and sexuality that our grandparents believed is ridiculed. This genealogy of culture, clearly and elegantly written, will help all of us understand how we got to where we are, so that we can plot our own futures with more clarity and confidence. This book is a must-read for Christians and all others who are disturbed by the dictatorship of relativism that surrounds us.”
―Gerald R. McDermott, Former Anglican Chair of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School
“Carl Trueman is a superb teacher. Sharp, perceptive, and lucid, this book is the worthy fruit of learnedness and insight. But more than a teacher, Trueman also has the voice of a prophet. He speaks truth masterfully, with power. In bringing clarity on how we got to our present desert wilderness as a culture, Trueman helps us understand our crooked ways―and situates us to make straight the way of the Lord.”
―Adeline A. Allen, Associate Professor of Law, Trinity Law School
“This is an amazing piece of work. Blending social commentary with an insightful history of ideas as well as keen philosophical and theological analyses, Carl Trueman has given us what is undoubtedly the most accessible and informed account of the modern self and how it has shaped and informed the cultural battles of the first quarter of the twenty-first century. It is a fair-minded, carefully wrought diagnosis of what ails our present age. This book is essential reading for all serious religious believers who rightly sense that the ground is shifting underneath their feet, that the missionaries for the modern self are not content with simply allowing believers to practice their faith in peace but see these believers and their institutions as targets for colonization and involuntary assimilation.”
―Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies and Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Philosophy, Baylor University
“Those looking for a light read that provides escape from the cares of the world will not find The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self their book of choice. But this volume will richly reward readers who don’t mind thinking hard about important (though sometimes unpleasant) topics. Christians have been taken off guard by how rapidly cultural mores have changed around them, but Carl Trueman demonstrates that radical thinkers have long been laying a foundation for these developments. Readers should press on to the end―the final paragraphs are among the best.”
―David VanDrunen, Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics, Westminster Seminary California
“Carl Trueman’s gifts as an intellectual historian shine in this profound and lucid book. The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self needs to be read by anyone who wants to understand our current cultural distempers.”
―R. R. Reno, Editor, First Things
“The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self will prove indispensable in moving beyond the superficiality of moralistic and liberationist interpretations to a deeper understanding and should be required reading for all who truly wish to understand the times we live in or are concerned about the human future. I very much hope it receives the wide readership it deserves.”
―Michael Hanby, Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy of Science, Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America
“Our culture did not simply wake up one morning and decide to reject sexual mores that have held civilization together for millennia. ... We cannot respond appropriately to our times unless we understand how and why our times are defined such as they are. Trueman’s work is a great gift to us in our continuing struggle to live in the world but be not of the world.”
―John D. Wilsey, Associate Professor of Church History and Philosophy, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, God’s Cold Warrior and American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion
About the Author
Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College. He is a contributing editor at First Things, an esteemed church historian, and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Trueman has authored or edited more than a dozen books, including The Creedal Imperative; Luther on the Christian Life; and Histories and Fallacies. Trueman is a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.