Over the last 30 years a number of theologians have been using aspects of sociology alongside the more traditional resources of philosophy. In turn, sociologists with an interest in theology have also contributed to an interaction between theology and sociology. The time is right to revisit the dialogue between theologians and sociologists. In his new trilogy on Sociological Theology, Robin Gill makes a renewed contribution to the mapping of three abiding ways of relating theology and sociology, with the three volumes covering: Theology in a Social Context; Theology Shaped by Society; Society Shaped by Theology. Theology in a Social Context argues that a sociological perspective, properly understood, can make an important contribution to theology. Part I looks carefully at various objections raised by both theologians and sociologists, maintaining instead that a proper understanding of social context is a prerequisite for effective theology. Part II suggests that a sociological perspective offers crucial insights into resurgent forms of fundamentalism. Part III offers a fresh account of social context in the modern world, once thought by sociologists and theologians alike to consist simply of increasing secularization.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Part I Theology and Sociology: Three sociological approaches to theology; The critique of religious sociology; Explanation in sociology and theology; Theologians as amateur sociologists; Plausibility structures and theology; Societal assumptions in a theological debate. Part II Sociological Challenges to Theological Assumptions: Relative convictions; Fundamentalist convictions; Impending convictions. Part III Social Context Re-Assessed: Secularization re-visited; Social context: evidence from newspapers; The social context of virtue ethics; Works cited; Index.
Robin Gill is currently Professor of Applied Theology, University of Kent at Canterbury. He has written extensively in the fields of Applied Theology, Christian Ethics, health care, and the church, producing a large number of leading books and papers. His previous appointments include: Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology, University of Kent; William Leech Professorial Fellow in Applied Theology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne; Senior Lecturer and Associate Dean, Department of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, University of Edinburgh; Lecturer, Anglican Theological College, Papua New Guinea. He is also a Council Member, Nuffield Council on Bioethics; Member of British Medical Association's Medical Ethics Committee; and has chaired many other committees and societies.
'This is a work of remarkable scope and learning. You have to do a huge amount of intellectual heavy lifting aided by goodwill to achieve this degree of clarity and charity on what is far too contentious a subject. One criterion of a good book is that it sends you back to some classics with a better idea of what they are about, and saves you a great deal of unnecessary reading. This is a very good book.' David Martin, Emeritus Professor, and Fellow of the British Academy 'This is a stimulating book that should encourage theologians and all intelligent religious believers not to fear sociology but to take it seriously.' Church of England Newspaper 'Workmanlike and accessible, this is a useful text, not least because it should also stimulate further reading, particularly of those sociologists, such as David Martin and Peter Berger, who also happen to be Christians, and whose theological literacy so clearly enriches their sociological judgement.' Church Times 'Together [the three volumes] constitute Gill's systematic account of his "theological social system", his "sociological theology". They collate a lifetime's work of substantial breadth and depth, a testimony to the care and persistence of its academic and clerical author. Gill's three volumes hang together as a considerable academic contribution.' Themelios