by David. K Naugle
The reader will find a solid yet digestible meal of philosophy, theology and spirituality.
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, MI, 2002. 406 pages, $26.00.
—Reviewed by Hugh P. Kemp, dean of studies, Bible College of New Zealand (Manawatu Regional Centre), Palmerston North, New Zealand.
David Naugle’s book looks deceptively overblown. It isn’t. The reader will find a solid yet digestible meal of philosophy, theology and spirituality—a mixture I found especially helpful as I seek to integrate my own mission practice with teaching missions, culture and world religions. The concept of worldview becomes a paradigm bridging mission theory and practice.
Naugle’s eleven chapters take the reader on a grand tour, beginning with evangelical thinkers who use the term “worldview” (Orr, Clark, Henry, Kuyper, Dooyeweerd and Schaeffer), followed by Catholic and Orthodox use of the term. Chapter three is a philological study of the German weltanschauung, and chapters four through six explore how leading philosophers have used the concept. In chapters seven through eight, Naugle critiques its usage in the natural sciences, psychology, sociology and cultural anthropology. Each chapter includes a good summary at its end, one of the book’s strengths.
The last three chapters (9-11) are perhaps the most helpful for Christians. Naugle takes pains to anchor Christian worldview firmly in the Bible. Unfortunately he only commits himself to Creation, Fall and Redemption as the contours of that worldview. John Stott’s four contours of Creation, Fall, Redemption and eschatological Consummation comprise a more comprehensive paradigm.
I was surprised by Naugle’s critique of James Sire’s book, The Universe Next Door, a standard text for courses in worldview. He uses it as an example of how one’s theory of worldview shapes the worldview one holds. Sire’s commitment to a “pre-modern” Christian theism means he starts with ontological concerns; “had he been a modern, he would probably have started with epistemology, and had he been a postmodernist, he would have started with language or meaning.”
Naugle locates the Christian worldview in the biblical use of the word “heart.” Until now I had assumed the Greek word stoichea (Gal 4:3, Col 2:8,20) contained the idea of weltanschauung/worldview. Since “heart” is the Bible’s way of talking about a person’s “core centrality” and stands for “all the aspects of a person,” it follows that “the heart of the matter of worldview is that worldview is a matter of the heart.”
In the last chapter Naugle warns of dangers in using the term worldview, but remains enthusiastic about its use. He believes this passionately enough to include two appendices which provide information on resources for those who want to explore the topic further. Overall, this is a first class book and a must-read for anyone reflecting Christianly on culture, mission, world religion and/or sociology and especially for mission practitioners who want something meaty.
Other Books Received
Greer, Robert C. 2003. Mapping Postmodernism: A Survey of Christian Options. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Harbison, J. A. 2002. Sheba’s Song: The Story of an Indian Girl and Her American Sponsor. Edited by Deepika Davidar.
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