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6 quotes from “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self”

Carl Trueman’s newest book has been celebrated as one of “the most important book of our moment” by Ben Shapiro, while Reformed blogger Tim Challies said of it, “I don’t think there will be a better-researched or more fascinating book in all of 2020.”

What follows are a half dozen quotes from Carl Truman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution, to give you an idea of what’s inside. And you can check out Dr. Bredenhof’s review here.



“Why does the sentence, ‘I am a woman trapped in a man’s body’ make sense not simply to those who have sat in poststructuralist and queer-theory seminars but to my neighbors, to people I pass on the street, to coworkers who have no particular political ax to grin… How did such a strange idea become the common orthodox currency of our culture?”


“The sexual revolution does not simply represent a… modest expansion of the boundaries of what is and is not acceptable sexual behavior; rather, it involves the abolition of such codes in their entirety. More than that, it has come, in certain areas, such as that of homosexuality, to require the positive repudiation of traditional sexual mores to the point where belief in, or maintenance of, such traditional views has come to be seen as ridiculous and even a sign of serious mental or moral deficiency. The most obvious evidence of this change is the way language has been transformed to serve the purpose of rendering illegitimate any dissent from the current political consensus on sexuality. Criticism of homosexuality is now homophobia, that of transgenderism is transphobia. The use of the term phobia is deliberate and effectively places such criticism of the new sexual culture into the realm of the irrational and points towards an underlying bigotry on the point of those who hold such views.”


“Freud has, in fact, provided the West with a compelling myth – not in the sense of a narrative that everybody knows is false but in the sense of a basic idea by which we can understand the world around us – regardless of whether it is ‘true’ in the commonsense way of understanding the word.  That myth is the idea that sex, in terms of sexual desire and sexual fulfilment, is the real key to human existence, to what it means to be human.”


“…the underlying argument of this book is that the sexual revolution, and its various manifestations in modern society, cannot be treated in isolation, but must rather be interpreted as the specific and perhaps most obvious social manifestation of a much deeper and wider revolution in the understanding of what it means to be a self. While sex may be presented today as little more than a recreational activity, sexuality is presented as that which lies at the very heart of what it means to be an authentic person.”


“While earlier generations might have seen damage to body or property as the most serious categories of crime, a highly psychologized era will accord increasing importance to words as means of oppression. And this represents a serious challenge to one of the foundations of liberal democracy: freedom of speech. Once harm and oppression are regarded as being primarily psychological categories, freedom of speech then becomes part of the problem, not the solution, because words become potential weapons.”


“Every age has had its darkness and its dangers. The task of the Christian is not to whine about the moment in which he or she lives but to understand its problems and respond appropriately to them.”

For more on “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self” listen in as Albert Mohler interviews the author below.

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