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Jeff Wheeldon

Abstract

The value of cross-disciplinary interaction between sociology and theology has long been acknowledged, but is rarely pursued or examined. While sociological insights have contributed much to many important discussions in the field of theology, influence in the other direction is rare. This work seeks to examine the possibilities for deeper interdisciplinary dialogue between these two fields, and in particular to provide examples of theologians making use of, and potentially contributions to, the social sciences. First, a brief discussion of the work of German pastor-theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer will describe his formal academic approach to such interdisciplinary work, particularly in Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church. Second, the work of Walter Wink on the theological notion of "principalities and powers" will be discussed, with special attention to the way he provided theological language and frameworks for social scientific concepts. Finally, the language of “consultation†is suggested as a path to greater interdisciplinary cooperation, and a short list of theological concepts that would benefit from sociological investigation and elaboration is offered. The ultimate aim is to explore the interconnectedness of these two fields for the purpose of furthering interdisciplinary discussion and inquiry. As will be demonstrated, consultation can enliven both fields by providing new perspectives and language with which to address issues and develop theory.
 
Keywords: Bonhoeffer, Wink, social theory, theology, interdisciplinary, consultation
 

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