The Contemporary Importance of Worldview Thought
Since the first-edition publication of James Sire’s The Universe Next Door in 1976, worldview thought has been a prominent fixture in western evangelicalism. Christian leaders and teachers have acknowledged the tremendous benefits that worldview awareness and analysis provides in discipleship and spiritual growth, resulting in a veritable boom in Christian worldview exploration and publication—Walsh & Middleton’s The Transforming Vision; Goheen & Bartholomew’s Living at the Crossroads; Wilkens & Sanford’s Hidden Worldviews; Myers & Noebel’s Understanding the Times; Sire’s Naming the Elephant; the list goes on. Worldview-oriented ministries have also blossomed—Summit Ministries; Probe; Worldview Academy; Leadership University, etc.
But the rising prominence of worldview thought has also prompted skepticism and opposition from a range of Christian thinkers—including the influential public intellectual James K. A. Smith at Calvin College. Critics charge that “traditional worldview studies” are reductionistic, and “lack explanatory power and often misinterpret people.” (Noble, A Disruptive Witness, 52-53) For his part, Smith’s primary charge is that worldview is overly rationalistic, and miss the reality that human habits (virtues) are shaped not by right thinking but by right loves/liturgy (see Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, 17ff; idem., Imagining the Kingdom, 9ff).