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5 Stars Out Of 5
God-Centered Approach to Relationships
July 19, 2011
Redeeming Sociology A God Centered Approach is written by Vern Sheridan Poythress, Professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary. Dr. Poythress challenges believers in this book on the foundations of their relationships and shows the importance of a biblical worldview as it relates to relationships. This book is very well-written and while it is highly technical and academic, the author's explanations are easy to understand.
The crux of the argument of this book focuses on three attributes or perspectives of lordship: authority, control and presence. The author explains that authority means that God is the Lord and He has authority over all his relationships to human beings and over all our relationships to one another. God controls the relationships that He controls everything in human relationship and institution and artifact and culture throughout the world.
The final aspect the author touches on is that God is presence in his wisdom and truth in the midst of human meanings, purposes and attempts at control.
Dr. Poythress in my opinion accomplishes the goal of his book in that he helps equip believers to think through the foundation for how one approaches a variety of relationships. Relationships are often messy and often time's believers struggle to live out the truth of the Lordship of Jesus in their relationships with fellow believers and non-Christians.
In the last chapter Dr. Poythress gives biblical teaching on "living in relationships" and explains that in every relationship the believer is to depend on God. Relationships take many different shapes and forms depending on how a person was raised, their life experiences and more, but this book goes beyond just what one has experienced in their life and goes to the foundations for why we think and act the way we do. Jesus is Lord and His Lordship begins with who He is, and what He has done in His death, burial and resurrection. The truth of Christ ought to extend down into every fabric of every part of our lives as we seek to grow not only in knowledge of Him but in implementing His life into our daily lives and then reflect His life which dwells within us through the work of the Holy Spirit into our relationships with others. I recommend you pick up this excellent book by Dr. Poythress and learn what it means to have a biblical worldview in regards to relationships.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Crossway as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Every once and a while a book comes along that challenges your paradigm of thinking about the world. It challenges you to analyze anew things you might have taken for granted in the past. Redeeming Sociology: A God-Centered Approach by Vern Poythress is one of those books!
In theory, what Poythress attempts to do in Redeeming Sociology is spectacularly ambitious--provide a theological rationale for proving why God belongs in sociology (a field widely known for being dominated by secular thinking). However ambitious Redeeming Sociology might be, however, Poythress pulls off a convincingly brilliant argument. The central idea one should take away from this text is this: all of life parallels the Trinity's own relationship with each other and man.
Without attempting to describe each of the books 36 chapters (divided into five parts), the main contours of the book can be described briefly. In part one, Poythress sets the stage that every human relationship is patterned off the Trinity. Drawing heavily from John Frame's own multiperspecival approach to theology, Poythress often introduces how multiple perspectives can be held in tension when discussing human relationships.
In part two, Poythress demonstrates how our relationships correspond to history. In essence, the author introduces a God-perspective approach to history and the actions that constitute that history. In part three, the author introduces a paradigm for understanding and interpreting our relationships and the actions that constitute each action. In part four, Poythress introduces an in-depth look at substructures that make up both our relationships and our culture. At this point, the author begins synthesizing many of his major ideas. Finally, in part 5, the author finally brings all of his ideas together for a final synthesis and application.
While the book at times is redundant (and some chapters didn't seem to advance the argument), it was overall extremely well written. Poythress relies heavily upon John Frame and at times I wish he would have documented more. Also, at times I felt he forced his Triune perspective of sociology to the point of it becoming some what superficial. As whole, however, these are rather small complaints. The book as a whole sustains a convincing argument.
In conclusion, Redeeming Sociology is a book that should be read by every pastor and every theologian. Not only does it remind us that the social sciences should be claimed for Christ, but it reminds us that every relationship has at its core the Trinity. God has claimed this world for himself by modeling even our relationships off himself. Poythress reveals this truth which should lead every reader to doxology.
*Thanks to Crossway Publishers for providing a free review copy of this book in exchange for a fair review*