What Is Worldview: James Sire, Dean of Worldview Thought
James Sire is arguably the most influential evangelical worldview proponent over the past two generations. Given my interest in worldview studies (as exemplified in our recently-published An Introduction to Christian Worldview, with IVP Academic), I think it is healthy and important to understand what Sire has written on worldview over the past 40 years, and to build upon his wisdom. His classic text, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, first published in 1976, is currently in its fifth edition. The first three editions focused on worldview as primarily a set of basic concepts or intellectual presuppositions. After rethinking his approach, Sire thoroughly revised his understanding and explanation of worldview. Sire no longer understands or explains worldview in terms of philosophical propositions alone. Instead, he provides a comprehensive and holistic definition:
A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being. [James W. Sire, Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015), 13.]
Sire’s definition is helpful on several levels and deserves to be unpacked.