Teaching a course on a complex topic, such as one’s worldview, is enough of a challenge for any professor. However, one Oklahoma Baptist University professor not only met that challenge, but also took on a more daunting task: writing the book on it.
More than five years ago, Dr. Tawa Anderson, assistant professor of philosophy and director of the honors program, conceived of a text book project alongside two of his colleagues. The idea to write the book was born out of an academic need. Each January, OBU holds a J-Term course on Christian worldview. The goals of the course are 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.
In 2012, Anderson along with Dr. W. Michael Clark, former director of OBU’s Ministry Training Institute and current legislative counsel at the Center for Arizona Policy, and Dr. Louima Lilite, associate professor of music, had just completed the course using James Sire’s text, “The Universe Next Door (5th edition).”
“Sire’s book is absolutely fantastic in looking at other worldviews and analyzing them and putting them through the worldview truth test,” Anderson said. “His text is rightly a classic in the field. But we wanted, in our course, to do more in two other areas.”
While debriefing after the course, Anderson and his colleagues determined the engagement with other worldviews was beneficial but not sufficient. When discussing the future and purpose of the course, the professors believed students would benefit from not only the comparison of worldviews, but also from emphasizing the theoretical aspects of a worldview and outlining the contours of a specifically Christian worldview.
The colleagues set out to find a text that could accomplish the goals they set for the course. Although many books were able to tackle one or two of the tasks admirably, they were unable to find a one-stop text that thoroughly covered the three areas that had been articulated. After coming up empty on their search, the three of them thought it might be a good idea to develop their own materials.
“The thought at that point in time was really just writing a course pack, putting together a few essays with the three of us that could be material to use for our J-Term class,” Anderson said. “We debriefed at the end of January in 2012, and we said, ‘Okay, we will aim to write this course pack and we will aim to have it done and polished before next January.’”
In 2013, the colleagues used their new course pack with the freshman worldview course. Though Anderson remembers the first time through being rough around the edges, he felt the material was both helpful and foundational. If the material was beneficial to OBU students, he thought it would most likely be beneficial to people at other institutions.
“At the end of that J-term, we got together again and explored the possibility of pitching it as a book project to an external publisher,” he said.
In Spring 2013, the colleagues pitched the course text to InterVarsity Press, a top publisher in academic Christian philosophy and apologetics. With the help of other professionals working in the field, they were put into contact with Andy LePeau, a senior editor with IVP Academic, who took on the project and began working with the team to revise the materials.
In the subsequent three years, the project met a series of obstacles and challenges. Clark left OBU to pursue a second doctorate degree in law, and LePeau was replaced by Dan Reid as editor for the project after he elected to retire. During this time, Lilite recognized that he needed, for both professional and personal reasons, to withdraw from the project.
“Michael and I talked, and we figured we could have done it ourselves, but it was healthier to keep it as a three-author work,” he said. “So, we approached David Naugle.”
Dr. David Naugle, professor of philosophy and distinguished university professor at Dallas Baptist University, agreed to join the project in May 2015 and was given a full calendar year to write his portion of the text. However, shortly after beginning, Naugle developed some health issues which limited his mobility and made completion of his work more challenging.
Though these obstacles created minor delays and challenges, the thousands of hours poured into research, collaboration, writing, revising, editing, footnoting, indexing and proof-reading would finally come to fruition in October 2017. “An Introduction to Christian Worldview: Pursuing God’s Perspective in a Pluralistic World,” was released by InterVarsity Press Academic Oct. 10, and is available through Amazon, IVP’s website or from Anderson directly.
“There is just something really cool about seeing something that you have poured five years of your life into come out and be published on the other end,” Anderson said. “It makes you smile that all of that work was worth it.”
Anderson is grateful for the part the University played in this journey.
“This book would not have come about if it were not for OBU,” he said. “If their Christian worldview course did not exist, this book would not have even been conceived of. I am really thankful for the opportunity and encouragement OBU provided to us to start this project, bring it together and to finish it.”
The University will host a book launch symposium and panel discussion of the text Friday, Nov. 3, as part of the Philosophy Forum series. The event will be hosted and facilitated by Dr. Heath Thomas, dean of the Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry, from 2 to 5 p.m. in Geiger Center 218. Refreshments will be provided.
Guest scholars include Dr. Jim Baird, professor of Bible and philosophy at Oklahoma Christian University; Dr. Robert Stewart, professor of philosophy and theology and Greer-Heard Chair of Faith and Culture at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Dr. Mark Coppenger, professor of Christian philosophy and ethics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Dr. Louima Lilite, associate professor of music.