By Taber, Charles R.
International Bulletin of Missionary Research , Vol. 21, No. 4
Missiology and the Social Sciences: Contributions, Cautions, and Conclusions.
Edited by Edward Rommen and Gary Corwin. Pasadena, Calif.: William Carey Library, 1996. Pp. 223. Paperback $8.95.
This book, comprising papers given at a meeting of the Evangelical Missiological Society, is an attempt to explore the important interface between missiology and the social sciences. It includes a number of useful insights but suffers from a number of serious weaknesses.
First, there is no single list of "the social sciences"; several authors offer lists, but they are not identical. There is a heavy emphasis on the linguistics/cultural anthropology/communications nexus, which is dealt with in several papers (Allison, McElhanon, Wan, McQuilkin, Hiebert). This set of disciplines has been heavily used by missionaries and missiologists. The other social sciences (sociology, psychology, economics, political science) have been of much less use to missions in the past and are therefore largely neglected. One paper (Corwin) by title addresses sociology, but in fact it constitutes an indictment of a certain mode of missiological research rather than dealing with the discipline of sociology. Similarly, a paper on psychology (Lindquist) deals only with the use of this science in counseling missionaries. …