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Redeeming Sociology: A God-Centered Approach (Poythress)

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In their pursuit of social welfare, sociologists and everyday citizens alike have adopted a worldview that fails to account for both the nature of God and the depravity of humankind. Ignoring God and sin has resulted in misguided analyses and ineffective solutions to societal issues. The time has come to rethink the study of sociology as those faulty assumptions have clearly affected the discipline as a whole.

Recognizing that human relationships are derived from the triune relationships within the Godhead, Poythress argues that social interactions must be assessed through a biblical framework that takes seriously the problem of sin. He has thus written this compelling volume to stimulate the reconfiguration and transformation of a worldview gone awry, helping us to think rightly about fallen human relationships and our models for understanding and improving them.

Redeeming Sociology advocates a biblically informed approach based on the Trinitarian nature of God, his governance of the world, and his redemption accomplished in Christ—a model that will help to reform the field of sociology as well as the beliefs and behaviors in our own relationships.


Table of Contents:

Introduction: Considering Personal Relationships

1. The Importance of Relationships

Part 1: God’s Involvement with Relationships

2. Relationships and the Trinity

3. God Creating Human Beings

4. God’s Covenants

5. God Sustaining Relationships

6. Creativity in Relationships

7. Exploring Examples of Relationships

8. The Regularities of Human Relationships

9. God’s Rule

10. Responding to God’s Government

Part 2: From Big to Small: Relationships in the Context of History

11. Some Pieces of Human Action within the Big Pieces

12. World History

13. The Fall into Sin

14. Redemption through Christ

15. Peoples through Cultures

16. Principles for Cultural Reconciliation

17. Good and Bad Kinds of Diversity

18. Human Action

Part 3: Interpreting Human Relationships

19. Meanings in Personal Action

20. Social and Cultural Analysis

21. Interpreting God’s Actions

22. Cultural Learning

23. Human Knowledge within Culture

Part 4: Smaller Wholes within Society

24. Varieties in Society

25. Authorities

26. Classifications of People

27. Social Equality and Inequality

28. Episodes

29. Transactions

30. Actions in Steps

31. Subsystems for Human Action

32. Signs and Their Meanings

33. Foundations for Unified Signs

34. From Signs to Perspectives

Part 5: Applications

35. A Jigsaw Piece as a Perspective

36. Living in Relationships

Interaction with Other Approaches to Society and Relationships

Appendix A: Rene Descartes’s Method

Appendix B: Modern Sociology

Appendix C: ‘Scientific’ Sociology

Appendix D: empathetic Sociologies

Appendix E: Sociological Models

Appendix F: Sociology of Knowledge

Appendix G: Sociology and Postmodernism

Appendix H: Postmodern Theology 



Vern S. Poythress is professor of New Testament interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, where he has taught for nearly four decades. In addition to earning six academic degrees, including a PhD from Harvard University and a ThD from the University of Stellenbosch. He is the author of numerous books and articles on a variety of topics, including biblical interpretation, language, and science.



“Using the triadic analytical technique derived from the truth of the Trinity, Poythress continues his quest for an undistorted, biblical understanding of the sciences, this time zeroing in on linguistics and sociology. This is a work of first-rate thinking. Demanding yet enriching, this book is a major contribution to modern reformation and its intellectual renewal.” - J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College; author, Knowing God 

“It is fairly common today for preachers and theologians to speak of relationships as crucial to the gospel, and to invoke the divine Trinity as the ultimate model therein, but this point has rarely been presented in theological depth. Poythress takes up that task, showing in great detail the biblical depth of this picture. He explains that human relationships make no sense apart from God's nature, creation, and providence. Indeed, this book presents a powerful argument against the exclusion of God from sociology and psychology. And it extends the argument of his recent books (on interpretation, science, and language) that the God of Scripture is the foundation for everything human.” - John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida