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*