To Understand the World, to Save the World: The Interface between Missiology and the Social Sciences

Article excerpt

To Understand the World, To Save the World: The Interface Between Missiology and the Social Sciences.

By Charles R. Taber. Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 2000. Pp. xiii, 146. Paperback. $14.

If the practice of Christian mission and the health of contemporary cultures are in a parlous state, avoidance or engagement may be equally reasonable reactions by concerned parties. The series to which this modest volume belongs is no advocate of avoidance but fosters creative dialogue between Christian mission and modern culture. This particular book offers a view of both missiology and the social sciences, and its subtitle aptly identifies the field.

Taber argues that missiology has exoticized and wooed sociocultural anthropology while neglecting the other social sciences; that the relationship has been naive, superficial, and uncritical, at least on the part of missiology; but that the social sciences are actually made of sterner stuff than may appear. He asserts that a "missiology that intends to address the inhabitants of the contemporary Western world, that hopes to make the gospel in all its integrity and power intelligible and persuasive in that world, must arm itself with a penetrating and critical understanding of the social sciences, using them both as tools of interpretation and as symptoms of what is to be understood" (p. …