Friday, October 20, 2017

What Is Worldview? Part III - Engaging James Sire

What Is Worldview: James Sire, Dean of Worldview Thought

James Sire is arguably the most influential evangelical worldview proponent over the past two generations. Given my interest in worldview studies (as exemplified in our recently-published An Introduction to Christian Worldview, with IVP Academic), I think it is healthy and important to understand what Sire has written on worldview over the past 40 years, and to build upon his wisdom. His classic text, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, first published in 1976, is currently in its fifth edition. The first three editions focused on worldview as primarily a set of basic concepts or intellectual presuppositions. After rethinking his approach, Sire thoroughly revised his understanding and explanation of worldview. Sire no longer understands or explains worldview in terms of philosophical propositions alone. Instead, he provides a comprehensive and holistic definition:

A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being. [James W. Sire, Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015), 13.]

Sire’s definition is helpful on several levels and deserves to be unpacked.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Worldview, Empathy, and Expectations

I don't normally do this, but I'm going to share some off-the-cuff remarks on the impact that worldview exerts on our expectations, particularly with regards to our assessment of empathy.  My thoughts are sparked by a great gathering that we hosted here at Oklahoma Baptist University over the weekend - the regional meeting of Phi Theta Kappa, the Arkansas-Oklahoma Honors society for 2-year colleges.  There were about 100 students and various sponsors and faculty members in attendance, and I had the privilege of eating dinner with some of them, and then serving as the moderator for a panel discussion on Friday evening.

The topic of our panel discussion was "The University: Unity in Diversity - Cultivating Global Scholars."  The aim was to talk about how cultural and disciplinary diversity among faculty members and students contributes to a healthy campus environment, but need not prevent a university's strong unity in purpose and direction.  As a college builds unity amid diversity, we are then better able to cultivate global scholars, graduates who are confident and competent to engage a diverse world and (in our OBU context) integrate their faith with all areas of knowledge while living a life worthy of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

In the Q&A after the panel discussion, a couple of interesting things transpired. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Today's the Day!!!

Anderson, Tawa J., W. Michael Clark, and David K. Naugle, An Introduction to Christian Worldview: Pursuing God's Perspective in a Pluralistic World. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2017.

After five long years of collaboration, writing, revising, re-writing, editing, and indexing, our co-authored Worldview textbook is officially released today (October 10) by IVP Academic.  A hearty shout out to Dan Reid, our chief editor at InterVarsity Press, along with the editing and artistic team, for a truly beautiful product (inside and out!).  The book is casebound, hard-cover, 384 pages, with beautiful cover art; some charts, figures, and illustrations in the main text; well laid-out (and interesting) sidebars and scenic byways engaging worldview in pop culture; with a helpful (and painstakingly-produced) index.  I'm biased, of course, but it's a fantastic product both in its content and its presentation.

The promotional blurb from IVP (also on Amazon): Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is the lens through which we interpret the cosmos and our lives in it. A worldview answers the big questions of life: What is our nature? What is our world? What is our problem? What is our End? As Anderson, Clark, and Naugle point out, our worldview cannot simply be reduced to a series of rational beliefs. We are creatures of story, and the kinds of stories we tell reveal important things about our worldview. Part of being a thoughtful Christian means being able to understand and express the Christian worldview as well as developing an awareness of the variety of worldviews. An Introduction to Christian Worldview takes you further into answering questions such as
  • Why do worldviews matter?
  • What characterizes a Christian worldview?
  • How can we analyze and describe a worldview?
  • What are the most common secular and religious worldviews?
Well organized, clearly written, and featuring aids for learning, An Introduction to Christian Worldview is the essential text for either the classroom or for self-study.

How can you get a copy?  ...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What Is A Worldview? Part 2

What Is A Worldview? Origins & Definitions

Excerpted from Anderson, Clark, and Naugle, An Introduction to Christian Worldview (IVP Academic, 2017), 9-13. (To be released October 12, 2017.)

The English term worldview is derived from the German Weltanschauung, a compound word (Welt = world + Anschauung = view or outlook) first used by Immanuel Kant to describe an individual’s sensory perception of the world. The term spread quickly in German idealist philosophy “to refer to an intellectual conception of the universe from the perspective of a human knower.” In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, German philosophers used Weltanschauung increasingly for the concept of answering pivotal questions regarding life,
the universe, and everything.

A worldview can be helpfully defined as “the conceptual lens through which we see, understand, and interpret the world and our place within it.” There is, however, a multitude of ways to define and explain worldview.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

What Is a Worldview? Part 1

What Is a Worldview? Stories & A Definition

Excerpted from Anderson, Clark, and Naugle, An Introduction to Christian Worldview (IVP Academic, 2017), 8-9. (To be released October 12, 2017.)

Three friends once went to a nature preserve in the African Serengeti and experienced the majestic beauty and diversity of native African wildlife—zebra, elephant, gazelle, lion, and rhinoceros. Each was awestruck by the diversity of creatures observed.

The first friend, John Luther, commented boldly: “The Lord God has definitely created an amazing array of creatures that sing his praises and declare his glory to the ends of the earth, has he not?”

The second friend, Charles Dawkins, immediately responded: “An amazing array of creatures, to be sure. But you err, my good man, in ascribing their existence to a Creator. No, these incredible animals are the result of the unguided, purposeless combination of random mutation and natural selection. We too are the product of a natural evolutionary process. Indeed, we are no different from the creatures that we see.”

The third friend, Shirley Chopra, serenely replied: “I pray you both would be enlightened to the full reality disclosed by our brothers and sisters on the nature preserve. For they too bear the same spark of divinity that lies within you and me. Do you not sense them calling to you, seeking to communicate with your spirit? We are all potential gods and goddesses; we just need to awaken to our heightened state and take hold of the possibilities that lie before us.”

The three friends see the same animals within the same nature preserve. Thus, they experience the same objective truth. Nevertheless, due to their vastly different perspectives, the three friends see different things.

Friday, September 22, 2017

It's Almost Here!!!

"It's time!  It's time!  Did he just say it's time?!"

Over five years ago, Michael Clark, Louima Lilite, and I conceived of a textbook project.  We had just finished co-teaching a J-Term (three weeks at the start of January, between fall semester and spring semester) class at Oklahoma Baptist University entitled "Christian Worldview," and geared for first-time freshmen.  The goals of the 1-credit-hour course were to introduce students to the concept of worldview, the importance of worldview thought, the contours of a Christian worldview, and some elementary worldview comparison and analysis. 

We used James Sire's excellent text, The Universe Next Door (5th edition) as our only textbook for Christian Worldview.  Sire does a phenomenal job of laying out worldview questions, and how 8 different worldviews compare with one another on those questions.  His text is rightly a classic in the field.  But we wanted, in our course, to do more in two areas: (1) consideration of what worldview is and how it affects us; and (2) outlining and analyzing the contours of a robust Christian worldview.  There are, of course, other books that accomplish those tasks admirably.  For (1), David Naugle's Worldview: The History of a Concept is outstanding; James Sire's somewhat-shorter Naming the Elephant (recently released in a 2nd edition) is also very helpful.  For (2), Michael Goheen and Craig Bartholomew's Living at the Crossroads and Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton's The Transforming Vision also do a competent job.  (Both also do a bit of work on the first aspect, too.)

But no matter how we searched, we could not find a one-stop text that accomplished the three purposes that we had articulated for our J-Term Christian Worldview course: (1) Worldview as a concept; (2) Contours of Christian worldview; (3) Comparison and analysis of other worldviews.  Given that we had three weeks to work with in J-Term, we naturally wanted to allocate one week to each of our three purposes, and desired to have course materials that reflected those goals and the desired balance.

We came up empty on our book search.  And so the three of us thought it might be a good idea to write our own materials.  In 2012, we spent the calendar year sketching, outlining, and then writing the book, which we used in January 2013 with our freshman worldview course.  The first go-around was a bit rough around the edges, but the material was helpful and solid.  At that point, it seemed like the project was worthwhile, not just for our use internally, but for a broader public as well. 

So in Spring 2013 we pitched the course text as a book project to InterVarsity Press, in my estimation the top publisher in academic Christian philosophy and apologetics.  Andy LePeau, a senior editor with IVP Academic, adopted the project, and we began working with IVP to revise our materials.  Over the subsequent three years, various events intervened: Michael left OBU to pursue a second doctoral degree (in law); Louima withdrew from the textbook project (but graciously left his outline, wisdom, and plans with the project) and was replaced by our good friend David Naugle (from Dallas Baptist University); Andy LePeau retired from IVP and was replaced by Dan Reid as editor for the project. 

It has been a roller-coaster of a project, seeing this Worldview textbook along the way.  But now, finally, after thousands of hours of research, collaboration, writing, revising, editing, footnoting, indexing, and proof-reading, the book is coming out in 18 days (not that I'm counting)!

Friday, September 8, 2017

An Introduction to "An Introduction to Christian Worldview"

Worldview Matters: An Introduction to Christian Worldview

Tawa J. Anderson, David K. Naugle, and W. Michael Clark, An Introduction to Christian Worldview: Pursuing God's Perspective in a Pluralistic World. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2017. ISBN: 978-0830851232

Christianity is a world and life view and not simply a series of unrelated doctrines. Christianity includes all of life. Every realm of knowledge, every aspect of life and every facet of the universe find their place and their answer within Christianity. It is a system of truth enveloping the entire world in its grasp. (Edwin Rian)
Worldview is a contentious term. Some philosophers complain that it has become an abused and misused term. Others complain that worldview is regretfully neglected and overlooked in philosophical and theological conversations. Others still insist that its use is on the rise, that it has not yet hit its heyday. Still others do not even know what the concept is all about. Finally, some assert that worldview is simply an unhelpful term that can be dispensed with altogether without any profound loss. I am convinced that worldview matters matter: thinking worldview-ishly is essential for responsible, intentional Christian discipleship.