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.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

John Dominic Crossan and Post-Modern Structuralism - Part II of II

Jon posted a very thoughtful comment and question in response to my article on John Dominic Crossan.

First, Jon's question .

Jon said...
"...Crossan believes that there is no history beyond language—history is not a concrete reality consisting of actual past events, but rather is constructed through language about past events."

Can you provide a quote from Crossan to support this? While I do not have a great familiarity with Crossan or structuralism, what little I have read seems very inconsistent with your argument here. That is, they do not deny that there is a reality and history independent of language, but that our understanding of history and reality are dependent upon and limited to the structure of our language(s).

Very well put, Jon.  
In my last post, I outlined Crossan's views on language, metaphor, history, and reality.  Now, I'd like to expand upon that, and consider how Crossan's structuralism impacts his historical Jesus research, particularly his study of Jesus's resurrection.  Again, this material is derived from my dissertation, which is accessible here.

Monday, July 24, 2017

John Dominic Crossan & Post-Modern Structuralism, Part I of II


Jon posted a very thoughtful comment and question in response to my article on John Dominic Crossan.  I'd like to take opportunity to expand on it - to bring his question out, and provide further discussion of Crossan's understanding of language, history, and reality, and to consider the implications of that understanding upon historical Jesus research.

First, Jon's question .


Jon said...
"...Crossan believes that there is no history beyond language—history is not a concrete reality consisting of actual past events, but rather is constructed through language about past events."

Can you provide a quote from Crossan to support this? While I do not have a great familiarity with Crossan or structuralism, what little I have read seems very inconsistent with your argument here. That is, they do not deny that there is a reality and history independent of language, but that our understanding of history and reality are dependent upon and limited to the structure of our language(s).

Very well put, Jon.  I'm thankful for thoughtful readers!
On that blog post, I responded with a brief citation from my dissertation (which can be found here.).  I mentioned that structuralism (like much of postmodernism) is essentially contested: there is wide disagreement among proponents and opponents alike as to what structuralism means and looks like.  Nonetheless, I am confident that I represented Crossan's views fairly.  

Here, I'd like to include a longer section of my dissertation - I think this is a fascinating subject, and I hope these thoughts are instructional and illuminating.  I'll include two sections, in two different posts.  First, this post will outline Crossan's views; tomorrow, I'll post a consideration of how these views impact historical Jesus research and the resurrection particularly.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

John Dominic Crossan Synopsis, Part III - Response to Crossan's Scholarly Claims

Engaging Crossan's Ideas:


To finish off this mini-series on the lovable Irish scholar, John Dominic Crossan, today we will interact with his scholarly arguments and conclusions (outlined in Monday's blog post).


CHRISTIAN RESPONSE

Structuralism / Metaphor:
Crossan’s embrace of structuralism (the belief that language constructs reality) is self-referentially absurd.  As many philosophers have noted, if structuralism were accurate, it would mean that we could cure HIV by simply ceasing to talk about it—no language of HIV = no infected patients = no further deaths from AIDS.  Indeed, we could also conveniently do away with unpleasant historical realities like the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Black Plague, American slavery, and the Holocaust.  As nearly everyone is aware, there is a real physical world beyond us, that exists and has objective properties that hold regardless of my particular beliefs.  Words may have significant power and influence, but they do not change historical reality—they might alter the way people understand history, but that is not the same thing as constructing reality.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

John Dominic Crossan Profile, Part II - Major Claims

The Works and Claims of John Dominic Crossan


Last week, I introduced a three-part blog series on John Dominic Crossan, one of my favorite skeptical New Testament scholars.  Crossan is delightfully witty, with a tremendous gift for language and communication - even his heterodox arguments about Jesus are couched in beautiful prose.  I talked briefly through the life and times of Crossan in my previous post - in this post I'd like to cover his non-traditional (and, quite frankly, anti-Christian) scholarly positions on Jesus of Nazareth.  Later this week I will interact with those claims, suggesting corrective responses.

MAJOR CLAIMS
John Dominic Crossan publishes widely, and his scholarly arguments include numerous controversial and heterodox conclusions.  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

John Dominic Crossan Synopsis, Part I - Biography and Major Works

Who Is John Dominic Crossan?


In my Ph.D. studies, I had the privilege of studying the worldview and scholarship of John Dominic Crossan as the focal point of my doctoral dissertation ("The Myth of the Metaphorical Resurrection").  Much more recently, I completed a short synopsis and interaction with Crossan for Watchman Fellowship.  I'd like to take this opportunity to share the brief article I completed, in three separate posts.  First, today, sharing a short biography of Crossan, along with a list of his major published works.  Next, I'll outline some of Crossan's scholarly conclusions and assertions, focusing particularly on heterodox claims he makes.  Finally, I will analyze and interact with those scholarly claims.  Perhaps this short series will whet your appetite to find my dissertation (available online free full-text here) and digest it!  Either way, I hope it's helpful.