The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog is now available in a Sixth Edition (IVP Academic, 2020). Even though the first edition was published in 1976, many Christians are not familiar with this fine book.
The author is James Sire, a well-known Christian apologist and lecturer who passed away a few years ago (1933-2018). He authored more than 20 books in addition to being a senior editor for InterVarsity Press.
The Universe Next Door is one of the better-known Christian apologetics books of the last 45 years. First written in 1976, it has gone through five update editions (1988, 1997, 2004, 2009, 2020). Each edition has added important information to the original book. Whether you have or have never read the book, I highly recommend the 6th Edition.
Sire wrote this about the reason for writing the first edition of the book:
“I first wrote the book for Christian students in the mid-1970s; it was designed to help them identify why they often felt so ‘out of it’ when their professors assumed the truth of ideas they deemed odd or even false. I wanted these students to know the outlines of a ‘merely’ Christian worldview, how it provided the foundation for much of the modern Western world’s understanding of reality, and what the differences were between the Christian worldview and the various worldviews that either stemmed from Christianity by variation and decay, or encountered Christianity at its very intellectual roots.”page xiii
I was a college student in the mid-1960s and turned toward atheism through the efforts of an atheist professor who relentlessly attacked Christianity in his classroom. I can certainly understand why Sire wrote the first edition of his book ten years later.
College professors are still attacking Christianity today, so it’s a good time to remind students and their parents of the importance of understanding worldviews and how to respond to them as Christians. I also recommend The Universe Next Door for teachers, pastors and youth workers in churches and youth-related ministries. Add it to your library and consider giving it to friends and family. You might also use it as a study guide for small groups in your church.
- A World of Difference: Introduction
- A Universe Charged with the Grandeur of God: Christian Theism
- The Clockwork Universe: Deism
- The Silence of Finite Space: Naturalism
- Zero Point: Nihilism
- Beyond Nihilism: Existentialism
- Journey to the East: Eastern Pantheistic Monism
- A Separate Universe: The New Age–Spirituality Without Religion
- The Vanish Horizon: Postmodernism
- A View from the Middle East: Islamic Theism
- The Examined Life: A Life Worth Living
- Building a Christian Worldview for the Twenty-First Century: A Work in Progress
“For more than forty years, The Universe Next Door has set the standard for a clear, readable introduction to worldviews. Using his widely influential model of eight basic worldview questions, James Sire examines prominent worldviews that have shaped the Western world:
- Eastern monism
- New Age philosophy
Intertwined with this analysis, he presents an overview of intellectual history giving insight into the current state of Western thought and culture. Critiquing each worldview within its own frame of reference and in comparison to others, Sire encourages readers to wrestle with life’s biggest questions and examine the core beliefs and commitments on which they are building their lives.
The sixth edition, updated by Sire’s longtime editor Jim Hoover, features new explanatory sidebars, helpful charts comparing worldviews and illustrating their historical flow, and a chapter on challenges to a Christian worldview in the twenty-first century. New discussion questions will help readers reflect more deeply on the ideas in each chapter.
The Universe Next Door has been translated into over a dozen languages and has been used as a text at over one hundred colleges and universities in courses ranging from apologetics and world religions to history and English literature. In a world of ever-increasing diversity, The Universe Next Door offers a unique resource for understanding the variety of worldviews that claim the allegiance of mind and heart.”
“Each new edition of James Sire’s classic text on worldviews, The Universe Next Door, only adds to the comprehensiveness and adaptability to classroom instruction as well as individual and group studies. This sixth edition is no exception. It contains a new commentary on the most contemporary challenges to Christian knowledge and faith. There is also an excellent new chart of worldviews as they relate to prime reality, external reality, human beings, after death, knowledge, morality, history, and core commitments. James Sire’s work on worldviews was the product of a lifetime of fascination, study, and articulation of the major differences between our basic understandings and commitments across cultures, religions, and time. It was essential to whetting my own interest in and understanding of the importance of comprehending worldviews. It is an essential text for every Christian’s library.”Mary Poplin, professor of education at Claremont Graduate University, author of Is Reality Secular?
“Over two generations of evangelicals have been nurtured by James Sire’s magisterial The Universe Next Door. It is rightly considered a Christian classic. And for two reasons, this new incarnation of Sire’s work is especially important. For one, it has a number of new features—including clarifying sidebars, charts, study questions, and a new chapter tackling recent challenges to a Christian worldview—that make its content clear, updated, and easy to use as a text. For another, as Western culture moves further and further away from the memory of a Christian worldview, it becomes increasingly important that Christians know how to navigate the realm of worldviews and think worldviewishly as Christians. This new edition of The Universe Next Door is for such a time as this.”J. P. Moreland, distinguished professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and coauthor of Philosophical Foundations of a Christian Worldview
“This book is tremendous. I have taught it many times and even made videos on it. . . . It contains much helpful bibliography, and the new chapter encourages us to keep thinking in the spirit of worldview.”David Naugle, professor emeritus, Dallas Baptist University
“It’s an honor to recommend this new edition of James Sire’s classic, The Universe Next Door. Though it is a reference book on different worldviews, it is filled with readable prose. Sire draws from leading thinkers from non-Christian worldviews to give us a fair survey and assessment. Anyone serious about understanding the views of the people next door will benefit from The Universe Next Door.”Abdu Murray, speaker, author, and senior vice president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
“When I first encountered James Sire’s The Universe Next Door (fourth edition) in 2006, it introduced me to a new vocabulary of faith and philosophy. His work became formative and transformative for me as a pastor and graduate student; it remains so for me as an academic philosopher and professor. This newly updated sixth edition contains helpful additions (chapter reflection questions, expanded sidebars, tables and charts in the appendix, and a new short concluding chapter) while not compromising the fundamental soundness of the previous editions. An excellent and worthy successor!”Tawa Anderson, associate professor of philosophy at Oklahoma Baptist University
PRAISE FOR PREVIOUS EDITIONSOs Guinness, author of Carpe Diem Redeemed
“To think intelligently today is to think worldviewishly, to come to terms with the mosaic of meaning systems which make up modern thinking. This book is a clear introduction and invaluable guide.”
“If you are looking for an introductory exposition of prominent worldviews, I know of no better book.”Nicholas Wolterstorff, author of Religion in the University
“The most readable presentation of alternative systems that I have ever seen.”Russ Bush, author of A Handbook for Christian Philosophy
“A most magnificently useful book.”E. M. Blaiklock, author of Blaiklock’s Handbook to the Bible
“Read as a whole it traces a convincing history of the evolution of worldviews (particularly in the West), as well as providing a robust defence of the enduring validity of the Christian faith. . . . An excellent introduction.”Alan Kerry, Faith Thought, October 2010
“For more than thirty years, The Universe Next Door has set the standard for a clear, readable introduction to worldviews. Sire offers additional student-friendly features to his concise, easily understood introductions to theism, deism, naturalism, Marxism, nihilism, existentialism, Eastern monism, New Age philosophy, and postmodernism.”Paul J. Cain, Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review, August 2010
“For anyone concerned to understand the culture in which we are called to work and witness, which ought to be all of us, this is still an indispensable resource.”David McKay, The Covenanter Witness, June 2010
The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog Sixth Edition (IVP Academic, 2020, 312 pages)
Faith and Self Defense © 2022