Fieldwork in Theology

Exploring the Social Context of God's Work in the World

by Christian Scharen (Author)James Smith (Editor)
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"If you are interested in learning to read 'the world' and discern how God is at work in it, this simple book by one of today's finest practical theologians is an excellent place to start. Together with Pierre Bourdieu, whose work he tries to make fruitful for theological ethnography, Scharen argues that reading the world well requires 'conversion of the way we look at other people in the ordinary circumstances of life.'"
--Miroslav Volf, founding director, Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Yale Divinity School; author of A Public Faith

"Fieldwork in Theology is remarkable in originality and scope. It combines a sophisticated parsing of social science theory with deep theological reflection to produce something that transcends both. Christian Scharen delivers an impassioned call for a carnal theology that seeks a disciplined understanding of the social world. Fieldwork in Theology deserves to be read by all who would seek to ground theology in the complexity of lived context."
--Omar M. McRoberts, associate professor of sociology, University of Chicago; author of Streets of Glory: Church and Community in a Black Urban Neighborhood

"Christian Scharen marks a turning point in practical theology by arguing for the central place of qualitative empirical research in the study of the Christian church via a detailed engagement with continental philosophy. This book is an essential read for all of those embarking on ethnographic research in theology."
--Pete Ward, professorial fellow in ecclesiology and ethnography, Durham University; author of Perspectives on Ecclesiology and Ethnography

"This book is not only for practical theologians, Christian anthropologists, and missiologists, but for all working in the guild of theological studies who realize that reconstructing Christian meaning today is impossible without somehow going fully 'native' in the many concrete contexts of our contemporary global village. Beyond understanding 'the field,' our continental philosophical interlocutors may even activate theologically informed practices that make a redemptive difference in the present time."
--Amos Yong, director, Center for Missiological Research, Fuller Theological Seminary; author of Spirit of Love


Christian Scharen, Author

Christian Scharen (PhD, Emory University) is vice president of applied research at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City. He previously taught at Luther Seminary. He has authored a number of books, including One Step Closer and Faith as a Way of Life, and is the book review editor of Ecclesial Practices. An ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Scharen has served congregations in California, Georgia, and Connecticut.

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James Smith, Editor