Worldview: The History of a Concept
By David K. Naugle
Eerdmans
384 pp.; $26, paper

For many readers of Books & Culture and Christianity Today, to deploy the phrase "Christian worldview" in conversation nowadays is to risk uttering a banality. The development of the "evangelical mind," particularly as it is manifest in the "faith and learning" industry in Christian higher education, is inconceivable without the conceptual framework of worldview thinking.

But the American zeal for practicality, quick answers, and efficient techniques has reduced this robust concept to "resources" for giving "The Christian Response" to various contemporary issues, from cloning to prayer in public schools to liberal media bias—and, of course, ways to make your local college biology teacher look silly. All of this has conspired to persuade more than a few philosophers and theologians in the Christian community that "worldview" as an analytical tool has outlived its usefulness.

Not so fast, says David Naugle. His comprehensive book, Worldview: The History of a Concept, is a heroic attempt to revive worldview thinking. Naugle's study offers an in-depth historical survey of this important but complex and often misunderstood concept. Despite its abuses, he argues, worldview thinking should not be dismissed. What is needed is a new view of worldview—and Naugle's sophisticated account of its origins, development, and use will no doubt reinvigorate a concept that has too often been mobilized to shut down, rather than open up, discussion.

As a curator of a university art museum and historian of modern art, I have come to see most Christian worldview discourse on art as unproductive at best. Naugle's nuanced and self-critical exploration of the concept has ...

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