Theology And Sociology

The Society of the Future, by H. van Riessen (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1958, 320 pp., $4.95), is reviewed by Vernon C. Grounds, President of the Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado.

As a Christian faces the problems of our twentieth century civilization, problems which are of appalling magnitude and baffling complexity, can he offer anything more than pious advice and daily prayer? He has a sustaining eschatology, to be sure, but does he have a viable sociology, a program of action grounded in his theology? Without degenerating into an advocate of an untheological social gospel, can he show that the Gospel is socially relevant? And can he show this relevance specifically in terms of education, government, law, economics, racism, and morals? This is of course the threadbare issue of the relationship between Christianity and culture. So much has been said about it that seemingly nothing of value has been left unsaid. Yet Dr. H. van Riessen clothes this threadbare issue in the stout homespun of his Calvinistic Biblicism, leaving it far from a thing of rags and tatters.

Though he does not call his position critical interactionism, that is in fact the viewpoint he advocates. A Christian cannot withdraw from secular activities into a desert or a cloister; neither can he practice a world-accommodating compromise, forgetful of his world-transcending principles. While enmeshed in the world, he must nevertheless stand above it, participating wisely and redemptively in its affairs. A doctor in both engineering and philosophy, Riessen is admirably equipped for the task of stating the position of critical interactionism. He has written extensively, produced a major work on Philosophy and ...

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