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Apologetic Methods, apologetics, Book Reviews, Presuppositionalism

Book Review: “What’s Your Worldview” by James N. Anderson

wyw-andersonWhen I first learned about What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions (I heard about it at The Domain for Truth), I was struck by the notion of an apologetics book written like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” Novel. Genius!

The book’s format is set up such that it outlines something (like what it means to say there is objective truth), then asks whether you believe in it. If you choose yes, you flip to one page; if no, you flip to another. Ultimately, your answers will land you in a worldview. Each worldview has a few pages of brief discussion on how it views reality and what problems might arise with that worldview.

I decided to indeed choose my own adventure and start out reading it from an atheist’s perspective. I figured that would give me a good look into the approach. I quickly realized that answering the questions in such a way got me to “dead ends.” If I said “No” to whether I believed in objective truth, I flipped to the worldview of “Relativism,” had the view explained and some major issues brought up. The end. Full stop. Or is it?

Anderson encouraged readers to go back to the previous question after any worldview evaluation if they didn’t like the conclusions drawn. Thus, continuing the example of relativism, he argued that it is self-defeating: after all, if all truth is relative, is that itself a relative truth? If so, why should I hold to it? Back to the questions! The book encourages such flipping back and forth. It encourages engagement in a way many apologetics books do not.

There is, however, one major drawback to the approach. That is, because it is a book about worldviews, and because it is only just over 100 pages long, there’s not a lot of meat to the discussion. If you’re looking for major critiques and interactions with response-rebuttal-counterpoint on various worldviews, this is not the book you’re looking for. Alongside that, there is a real danger of oversimplification. For example, in the “worldview” section on “nihilism,” it was stated that nihilism is “the view that there are no objective values” (Kindle location 1022). Properly speaking, this only refers to moral nihilism, not nihilism as a full system, which would entail a whole system of “nothings”: no meaning, no objective values, possibly even no reality one can access, etc. Due to the short length, much nuance to each worldview must be lost. Possible objections to Anderson’s brief critiques abound, and readers may be left thinking their own view was perhaps a bit too blithely dismissed.

Of course the length could just as easily be seen as an advantage. One can very easily pick it up and read it in an afternoon; one could hand it to an interested neighbor; it lends itself to use in a brief study period (youth group? adult forum?). These are all advantages. Readers just need to be aware of some disadvantages as well.

I was also very impressed by the depth of insight Anderson gave to rival theist worldviews. Once one answers that there is at least “a” deity, the book still has many more questions to peruse: do you think there is only one?; is Jesus God?; did God communicate with humans? If so, was this communication open?; etc. I found these to be fun to flip through and very informative and on-point. This isn’t an apologetics book that focuses purely on the existence of God; it is, really, a book on worldviews: complete totalities. That said, remember it is not intended to be comprehensive, by any means.

What’s Your Worldview is a really fun apologetics book. The fact that I’m able to write that shows how unique it is. I don’t know of any other book in the same format. It’s refreshing and handy. That said, at times it does feel just like those old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books; you come to the end too quickly. It was a conscious decision on the part of the author/publisher to keep it light and easy to read. And, to that extent, they succeeded. I just found myself wanting a little more. However, I do think this would be an excellent book to pick up and hand off to a friend or relative who may have doubts or may want to explore the beliefs of various worldviews. Just remember the caveat: the book may raise more questions than it answers; so be prepared to have some reasons for the hope within (1 Peter 3:15).

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Source

James N. Anderson, What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014).

I received a review copy of the book through Crossway. I was not obligated by the publisher to give any specific type of feedback whatsoever. 

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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About J.W. Wartick

J.W. Wartick has an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. His interests include theology, philosophy of religion--particularly the existence of God--astronomy, biology, archaeology, and sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Discussion

7 thoughts on “Book Review: “What’s Your Worldview” by James N. Anderson

  1. As a Christian with certain philosophical views that are often assigned to the “atheist tribe,” I’m curious about how the following were handled:

    (1) “All truth is relative,” is pretty self-defeating, but almost nobody actually believes it. The commonly held position is more like, “All claims that are contingent on particular observations are subject to the uncertainties of perception,” — a statement which, rather than being self-defeating, is analytically true.

    (2) You said, “Due to the short length, much nuance to each worldview must be lost.” I worry, though, that this may be another instance in which the common views are ignored in favor of the uncommon, but obviously more unpalatable views. To be specific, existentialism and moral non-realism both say “There are no objective values,” but both have orders of magnitude more adherents than nihilism.

    I generally don’t like the word “worldview.” Over the past 10 years, I’ve found it seems to be used primarily as a “with us or against us” tribalistic drawbridge. I say this generally; obviously there’s a bunch of fine stuff that employs the word. In any case, it makes me ultra-attracted to reviews of such material! I appreciate the work you do reviewing these and other books.

    Posted by stanrock | February 24, 2014, 7:27 AM
    • James did comment on this post as well so perhaps you can head to his blog and ask him himself if you want better clarification than I can offer. However, I’ll respond as I can:

      (1) As I state in the review, the book has a blessing/curse to deal with in its brevity. Given that there is only a small amount of space given to each worldview, it is necessarily simplified. Anderson addresses this and notes that “simplified” does not entail “simplistic.” I agree that almost nobody “actually” believes that “all truth is relative” but I’ve run into an astounding number of people who claim to adhere to such a belief. I realize that is anecdotal, but the thing I’ve found is that the notion that truth is relative is held generally by any number of people I’ve encountered. Thus, I think Anderson is justified in including it.

      (2) Interestingly, I was actually a bit critical in the review here about the use of “nihilism” because it seems Anderson is really referencing merely moral nihilists and addresses them as claiming that indeed there are no objective (moral) values. So our complaints are from either end, it seems! I complain that it’s not specific enough; you that it may be a bit too explicit! I hope neither of us causes Anderson too much grief! But realistically, this book is just over 100 pages and deals with a number of worldviews. It is going to, as I said, lose nuance. That’s why I think the book is a great conversation-starter.

      I’m not really sure what to say regarding your comments on wolrdview. I don’t really think it is all that problematic to be honest, until one starts to think there can be no points of connection from one worldview to another.

      Posted by J.W. Wartick | February 25, 2014, 8:58 PM
      • (1) I think this is a fine way of going and I hear you. Some people like to call these positions “strawmen” — but they’re held by real people, like “animated strawmen,” and deserve to be addressed as well, however bizarre be the ways in which they choose to express themselves.

        (2) Hah!

        Ignore me on the worldview thing for now. I just came from a heated debate on the subject and was stewing a bit.

        Posted by stanrock | February 26, 2014, 12:12 AM
  2. The ebook version of this is on sale through March 2 at $4.99. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HDHUU12/

    Posted by Virginia Peterson | February 24, 2014, 9:34 AM
  3. Appreciate this review Mr. Wartick!

    Posted by SLIMJIM | February 24, 2014, 1:19 PM
  4. Thanks for the review, J.W.! Glad you found it an enjoyable read.

    Posted by James | February 24, 2014, 2:04 PM
  5. I agree with Stanrock that “worldview” isn’t a very useful term. Instead of asking “What’s your Worldview,” the writer could just as well ask, “How can I superficially summarize your beliefs?”

    Posted by John Moore | February 25, 2014, 12:12 AM

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