Redeeming Sociology

Christ the Center is pleased to welcome Dr. Vern Poythress back to the program to discuss his latest book Redeeming Sociology. The title alone may leave some people wondering why it was written by a professor of New Testament interpretation. Yet those familiar with Dr. Poythress’ work will quickly come to realize how he has thoroughly applied his God-centered Trinitarian approach to the subject of human relationships. From the publisher:

Redeeming Sociology advocates a biblically informed model for human relationships—relationships rooted in the Trinitarian character of God, his governance of the world, and his redemption accomplished in Christ. Poythress examines how the breaking of relationships through sin leads to strife, murder, and oppression among human beings and sets cultures against one another. And he shows how these broken relationships are restored through the outworking of redemption in Christ.

Though typical sociological models for interpersonal relationships may offer some valuable insights, they are handicapped by a fundamental misunderstanding of humanity. The biblical model that Poythress presents correctly diagnoses the problem of human relationships, so it can likewise prescribe a biblical solution that infuses new meaning and power into how we relate to others made in the image of God.

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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Vern Poythress Redeeming Sociology Interview - Feeding on Christ

8 years ago

[…] I know that you’ll find it to be richly rewarding. You can listen to it or download it here. This entry is filed under Feeding on Christ, Vern Poythress. You can follow any responses to this […]


8 years ago

Poythress is one of my favorite guests on RF. However, having read all of Redeeming Science, Language: a God Centered Approach, as well as parts of Redeeming Sociology (looking forward to reading the remaining sections), I have been disappointed in professor Poythress’s books. Of course, I do think in these works Poythress helpfully lays out the elementary principles of a consistently Reformed and biblical theological foundation of language, science, and sociology/human relationships. But the books in general are superficial. Even the more technical entries in the appendixes are much too quick. He doesn’t interact with many other figures and when he discusses opposing views they are too oversimplified, and it is surprising how little actual science or philosophy of science was discussed in Redeeming Science, how little linguistics and philosophy of language was discussed in Language, and how little sociology was discussed in Redeeming Sociology. I am sure these books will be helpful to others and my criticisms reflect more about myself than the actual value of the books, but I think even Poythress would agree that the scope and goals of these works are indeed limited.

Nate Shannon

8 years ago

I somewhat sympathize with this assessment of the general tone of these works – although I haven’t seen the one on sociology yet. I wrestled with Poythress’ approach for some time, but I have become convinced that he writes for the pews and for the average Christian who does not have the resources – time or academic curiosity – to get into the fine polemical points of these debates as they crawl forward – and backward – in academic journals or among scholars and specialists. What I think Poythress recognizes is the fact that all the average Christian needs, or is able to make use of, or is even interested in, is a basic framework from which to view the anti-Christian charges launched in these fields, or from which to be able to detect the anti-Christian packaging or bias with which this material is consistently presented. Let me try putting it another way – Poythress’ books, at least these, are not a direct polemic against the skeptic or against skeptical views, which may disappoint apologetically inclined and theologically trained readers, who cut their teeth reading polemical literature from a polemical point of view, but they aim to provide the greater body of the church a sense of confidence in their respective areas. Christians are so very vulnerable because there simply are no resources out there to provide them with biblically and theological solid but also scientifically informed views – public level views – of the areas most often and very effectively hijacked by skeptics.

One thing that is very frustrating is that so very much of anti-Christian-theistic thinking and even overt atheistic thought goes unchallenged. It goes unchallenged in grade school classrooms, it goes unchallenged in the universities, in all forms of entertainment (TV, movies, radio, news, literature and commentary, and so on). And at the same time, the best of Christian responses are so narrow – pin-point precise, highly technical, or exhausted by in-house debates among apologists themselves, and in the end unhelpful to the greater body of the church. Poythress has avoided those traps and continues to produce readable and valuable literature which, I believe, will be of great service to the church, to the great numbers of unequipped Christian people, who will never take a seminary course, who are pastored by misguided and uninformed clergy, and who are otherwise left very much to the mercy of our educational culture and media culture.

I was struck recently as I pondered the vastness of the effect of modernism on the Christian mind of past generations, and then of postmodernism on more recent generations of Christians. I am truly afraid to think of the numbers who followed the seductive call of science, or of language philosophy, and wandered from the church. For these reasons I am very grateful for Poythress’ work.

Jim Cassidy

8 years ago

“Spoil and Toil”! Love it, Jeff!

Robert Murphy

8 years ago

“Put de carte before de horse!”

Reference here

8 years ago

Reference here…

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