I’ve engaged in periodic conversation with David Naugle, Distinguished University Professor, chair and professor of philosophy at Dallas Baptist University, for quite some time. Why? To wrestle with “the heart” and the history of worldview, not only only in an “academic” sense, but also in the life and ministry to which I have been called as a part of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. As you may rememberÂ Mike HickersonÂ interviewedÂ David on Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of HappinessÂ (William B. Eerdmans, 2008) at the 2010Â CCO Jubilee Conference. Before digging into Worldview: The History of a ConceptÂ (William B. Eerdmans, 2002)Â a little more on David . . .
He is married to Deemie Naugle, the Associate provost at Dallas Baptist University and has been for many years; they have one daughter, Courtney who is working in West Dallas at a non-profit organization. He has two earned doctorates, one in theology and the other in philosophy and literature. He has written four books and three screenplays. He attends the Village Church in Dallas.
Alright, now let’s turn to the interview, with me taking fully responsibility for the related pictures and links 🙂
Tom: David, As I mentioned to you in a previous conversation,Â Building a Christian WorldviewÂ –Â co-edited by two professors from campusÂ [W. Andrew Hoffecker and Gary Scott Smith] — framed part of the core curriculum while I was a student atÂ Grove City College. In addition, servingÂ InterVarsity Christian FellowshipÂ has providedÂ the opportunity to get to know James W. SireÂ in a number of capacities [Sire was formerly a senior editor at InterVarsity Press. In addition, he is theÂ author ofÂ a number of books including The Universe Next Door:Â A Basic Worldview CatalogÂ and the recently releasedÂ Echoes of a voice: We are not alone]. So whenÂ William B. Eerdmans publishedÂ Worldview: The History of a ConceptÂ (2002), I couldn’t wait to “mine its treasures”. SinceÂ Worldview: The History of a ConceptÂ continues to provide a valuable resource for my labors with the Emerging Scholars Network, I thought our members would benefit from learning more about itÂ from the source 🙂 To begin our brief exchange, What is the story behind the publication ofÂ Worldview: The History of a ConceptÂ and why you have taken so much interest in the topic as a philosophy professor at Dallas Baptist University?
David:Â Tom, I read a book calledÂ Stained Glass: Worldviews and Social ScienceÂ and this book had a paper (it was a collection of papers presented at a conference) by Albert M. Wolters on the Relationship of Worldview and Philosophy. Wolters had one page on the history of worldview theory in his paper in which he said he had done some research in a 20 page unpublished paper on the history of worldview. I thought that would be an interesting topic to explore and I asked Dr. Wolters for a copy of that paper and he sent it to me. I wrote a 600 page doctoral dissertation on the history of the concept of worldview for a Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at Arlington. It was accepted, won dissertation of the year award at the University, and became the basis forÂ Worldview: the History of a ConceptÂ (William B. Eerdmans, 2002). I am happy to say this book wonÂ Christianity Todayâ€™s book of the year award in 2003 among 29 entries in the theology and ethics category. I hope it makes a solid contribution on such an important topic!
Tom: Wow! How exciting to learn more about the background of, the research behind, and the recognition of the Worldview: the History of a Concept. By-the-way, I too have appreciated the work of Albert M. Wolters, in particular incorporating elements ofÂ Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational WorldviewÂ (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 2 edition, 2005) into my labors with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. With regard to Worldview: the History of a Concept, please give us a peek into
- how you settled on the material to be addressed in this publication
- its organization/format
- how you anticipated the material to be used by individuals for personal study, campus ministers, professors, Christian colleges, local congregations, etc.
- some of the response you have found to the publication, in particular who you think has benefited the most.
David:Â Organizationally, I dealt FIRST with Christian thinkers and the rationale was that since so much had been made of the worldview concept in the main branches of Christianity, especially protestant evangelicalism, a study of the history of the concept seemed in order.Â I chose major thinkers from Immanuel Kant to the present (I. Kant coined the term – â€œworldviewâ€ or in GermanÂ Weltanschauung).Â This history had been done in German, but not in English. So I addressed philosophy in the 19th and 20th centuries, and then the use of the concept in several major disciplines like the natural and social sciences. I then reflected on the biblical meaning of worldview, associating it with the human heart in both the Old Testament (LebÂ andÂ Lebab) and the New Testament (kardia), then its philosophic power as a semiotic system of narrative signs that govern knowledge, epistemology and hermeneutics. I concluded the volume with some thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses of using worldview in the protestant evangelical church, and saw it as something that opened up the narrative of Scripture and led to the transformation of students. Tom, I didnâ€™t make a biblical worldview into an object of apologetic defense, but rather Biblical and Christian sanctification; my hope has been that the book will be especially useful for Christian teachers, professors and students. And they have probably benefited the most from it. For personal study, I have recommended chapters one, two, nine and eleven.
Tom: David, Getting back to the big picture, what three or four points do you desire every reader to take away fromÂ Worldview? What points do consider particularly important for those considering next steps in higher ed? Any particular “characters” or “perspectives” Emerging Scholars should be sure to read up on and be prepared to interact with?
David:Â Here areÂ the most important points in the book:
- Protestant evangelicals have been the most industrious in using the worldview concept.
- Worldview has an extensive and distinguishedÂ historical pedigree!
- Soren Kierkegaard says commonality in a worldview is necessary for friendship.
- The primitive worldview as espoused by Robert Redfield in Anthropology has more in common with biblical faith than other alternatives.
- There are strengths and weaknesses associated with the use of the worldview concept in the protestant evangelical church
- Worldview has considerable sanctifying power inÂ showing the big picture of the biblical faith to students and others.
For those considering steps in higher ed, be familiar with the larger biblical story via worldview in God, creation, fall and the two stages of redemption. Characters to know about regarding worldview would be the little known thinker Wilhelm Dilthey, and the contributions of Michael Polanyi and Thomas Kuhn in the natural sciences (philosophy of). And keep an eye on worldview thinking byÂ Nancy Pearcey and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview (and many, many others).
Tom: To wrap up David, please share with Emerging Scholars an encouragement regarding the value of their role in the Kingdom God and next steps in being “little Christs” not only on campus but as they graduate and steward the gifts/training they have been given. Any particular resources to commend toÂ Emerging Scholars as they take next steps in growing more and more into the image of Christ Jesus?
David:Â Itâ€™s just great to be a college professor! You get to teach, write, travel and work with young people; what could be better? And to top it all off, you are on the cutting edge of the forward progress of the kingdom of God (Be careful though, if you are on the cutting edge you willÂ bleed if you are a little Christ – the big One did!). Iâ€™d read up on C.S. Lewis via his own writings and the plentifulÂ writings about him (like Alister McGrathâ€™s recent biography) and ESN is a great ministry to become familiar with various resources. There is aÂ â€œworldviewâ€ segment of contemporary Christianity that is very much worth tapping into!
Tom:Â David, Thank-you for once again sharing your time, gifts, and insights with us! May GodÂ continue to bless your labors on behalf of the Kingdom of Godâ€”in particular your expanding work in the arts. I look forward to pulling together the material from our conversation regarding Philosophy: A Student’s GuideÂ (Crossway, 2012) and posting it next week.Â To God be the glory!
Note to those who are members of and/or follow the Emerging Scholars Network:
- If you have not already done such, I encourage you to set aside a few minutes not only to read Mike’s earlierÂ interviewÂ onÂ Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of HappinessÂ (William B. Eerdmans, 2008), but also my follow-up interview on Philosophy: A Student’s GuideÂ (Crossway, 2012).
- In developing your summer reading list, be sure to draw perspective shaping material found in resources mentioned in this post,Â Hot off the Press: Campus Resources from IVP ’13, and ESN Blog Book Reviews. Note:
- All Eerdmans books qualify for theÂ 20% ESN Member Discount.
- All IVP books qualify for the 30% ESN Member Discount.
- Pray for insight regarding how to further develop ESN’s partnership with IVP. Note: This afternoon I will have conversation with Deborah Gonzalez,Â our IVP Representative.Â I cannot wait for the opportunity to connect with Deborah regarding next steps. Our conversation will include not only recommendations of what to highlight in our 2014-2015 Campus Resource List, but also how members of ESN can most benefit from the resources offered by IVP.
- Update (5/19): Deborah and I had a great conversation!Â The 2014-2015 Campus Resource List is in motion. It will be ready for the fall and additional ideas are starting to take form. Stay tuned 🙂
- If you (and possibly a summer reading group of which you are a member) desire to write a book review and/or conduct an author interview, then please be in touch with me to explore this idea/opportunity further 🙂
To God be the glory!
Update: 5/15/2014, 12:27 pm. Update: 5/19/2014, 10:09 am
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!