Theology Compromised

Schleiermacher, Troeltsch, and the Possibility of a Sociological Theology

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Matthew Ryan Robinson, Evan F. Kuehn
  • Lanham, MD: 
    Lexington Books/Fortress Academic
    , October
     160 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Theological work, whatever else it may be, is always a reflection on social transformations. Not only pastors but also theologians work with the sources of the Christian traditions in one hand and a newspaper in the other. But how are we to understand the relationship between social transformations and the continuously "compromised" development of Christian ideals, as these are measured by doctrinal formulations? And how might a more deeply sociological perspective on this relationship inform theological work?

Matthew Ryan Robinson and Evan F. Kuehn approach this question, not by reconstructing a history of ideas, but rather by telling a story about the development of churches and theological institutions. They take the turbulent and dynamic ecclesiological situation of nineteenth-century Germany as a representative case, focusing on the sociological methodological orientation of Friedrich Schleiermacher and Ernst Troeltsch in the context of the rise of theological liberalism, the history of religions, and the German churches' confrontation with social and political challenges. Robinson and Kuehn then connect this orientation with the sociology of religion of Hans Joas and Niklas Luhmann, arguing for a functional focus in theological research on what doctrines do rather than what the reality behind or in any particular doctrine is.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Matthew Ryan Robinson is a research associate in the Protestant Theological Faculty of Friedrich Wilhelm University of Bonn.

Evan F. Kuehn is theological librarian and adjunct lecturer in philosophy at Trinity International University.


Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.