Book tailor-made for J-Term class

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

Introduction to Christain Worldview is a class offered during J-term that gives students a first look into the concept of worldview, with an emphasis on Christain theology and philosophy. The class is offered for free to freshman during J-term. 

This past January, Introduction to Christain Worldview was taught using a textbook written by Dr. Tawa J. Anderson, Dr. W. Michael Clark, and Dr. David Naugle. An Introduction to Christian Worldview: Pursuing God’s Perspective in a Pluralistic World was published in 2017 by InterVarsity Press.  

Tawa_Book
Braden Wade/The Bison

“I started teaching the worldview class my first year here, which was in January of 2012, and the course had existed for two Januarys before that,” Dr. Tawa Anderson, associate professor of philosophy and co-author of worldview book said. “The other two faculty that were involved in the course were Dr. Clark and Dr. Lilite. The three of us came together both before and after teaching it in January of 2012, just to lay out what we were aiming to achieve in the course, and whether or not we were accomplishing that with how we did it in 2012.” 

Together they came up with three overall purposes that needed to be fulfilled in the worldview class.  

“The first purpose was to give students an understanding of the nature of worldview thought in general,” Anderson said. “The second is that students would be able to get a good understanding of the basic contours of a Christian worldview. This includes some basic Christian theology, in terms of things that Christians throughout the ages have believed and practiced together. The third purpose is that we wanted an element of worldview analysis and comparison. In other words, an awareness of what other worldviews are: worldviews like naturalism, Islam, Hinduism, postmodernism and new-age spirituality.” 

Prior to using An Introduction to Christain Worldview, the class was taught using The Universe Next Door by James Sire. 

“[Sire] spends the bulk of his time on worldview comparison and analysis,” Anderson said. “We realized that if these are the three purposes that we’re pursuing, and our textbook isn’t doing that, we need to find something different to use to accomplish the purposes that we’re pursuing. We began looking for what we could use to substitute as our primary text for the worldview course, only to discover that there was nothing out there that accomplished all three purposes, that had a balance between all of the three goals that we were pursuing.” 

There were many books that did very well on one of the purposes that the worldview professors intended to focus on, but not a single book that equally focused on each of the three purposes in a balanced and somewhat concise manner.  

“We certainly didn’t want to assign three textbooks for a 1 credit hour class because that would result in rebellion,” Anderson said. “So, then we asked the question: what do we do? The next logical step is to ask the question: can we develop something that we can use as the primary materials for this course?”  

After looking for the perfect book to use as the primary text for the course, the professors decided to begin writing a course pack.  

“We began with writing what was, at that point in time, a course pack, which was us writing the material that we were going to teach through,” Anderson said. We spent from March that year to December writing and putting together the course pack. The course pack was eight chapters. It was the same eight chapters that we see now, in a different form than it exists now. There were three chapters walking through worldview as a concept. There were three chapters on Christian worldview and analysis of Christian worldview, and then two longer chapters on alternative philosophical and religious worldviews. We taught through the material that January [2013] and thought that the material worked really well for what we were pursuing.”  

Following the success of the course pack, they began to explore the possibility of publishing.  

“We asked ourselves, the three of us, whether it was worthwhile pitching this as a textbook proposal to a publisher,” Anderson said. “We agreed that we thought the material was beneficial enough and could be helpful to the broader Christian higher-education community. We agreed that we would put a proposal together and pitch it to publishers. We had our ranking of who we wanted to propose it to. As it turned out, IVP was the first publisher we wanted to approach. In my estimation, they are the cream of the crop when it comes to publishing in Christian philosophy and worldview, and they accepted the proposal.” 

The next step was editing and forming the existing material from the course pack into a textbook. As in any project, the textbook had some unforeseen setbacks.  

“Then we went about revising the material so that it was ready for publication for a broader audience,” said Anderson. That process ended up taking longer and taking more detours than we envisioned at that point in time, including the most difficult part of the process, which was having one of the authors move on from OBU, and then having one of the authors withdraw from the project, and have a different author step in. So, whereas originally the book was coauthored by three OBU faculty members, the three authors that are on the textbook now, only one of us is still here at OBU. That was unexpected and unanticipated, but it was also just the way things went. There are always going to be obstacles in the road.” 

While the process of writing and publication was long, for the professors, it was all worth it.  

“It was a long haul,” said Anderson. “I sometimes say that the worldview textbook had the gestational period of an elephant, except longer. But, was nice to finally see it come to be. We are all extremely proud of the textbook as it stands. I think that it does make a very valuable contribution to higher education.” 

Introduction to Christian Worldview is offered every January at OBU. For more information about the textbook, An Introduction to Christian Worldview, visit https://www.ivpress.com/an-introduction-to-christian-worldview.

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