Scharen Publishes Important New Book

Scharen Publishes Important New Book

Dr. Christian Scharen, Vice-President for Research at Auburn Theological Seminary and Network Coordinator, has just published an important new book with Baker Academic: Fieldwork in Theology: Exploring the Social Context of God’s Work in the World. Congratulations, Chris!


From the Publisher

In this addition to the acclaimed The Church and Postmodern Culture series, leading practical theologian Christian Scharen explicates the relationship between theology and its social context. He engages with social theorist Pierre Bourdieu to offer helpful theoretical and theological grounding to those who want to reflect critically on the faith and practice of the church. Church vitality requires looking outward to inquire how God is at work loving the world and acting for its good amid real burdens and brokenness, says Scharen; in Fieldwork in Theology, he integrates theology and ethnography to articulate a vision for the church’s involvement with what God is doing in the world. The book provides concrete examples of churches living out God’s mission to help a wide array of readers understand the social context of doing theology.

Fieldwork in Theology will benefit professors and students in philosophy, theology, and ministry courses, particularly those undertaking ministry internships or fieldwork assignments. Students and faculty who want to integrate theology and ethnography will also find it of interest. Brief and engaging chapters work well for the classroom and substantial footnotes and bibliography provide ways to explore the issues more deeply.


“In Fieldwork in Theology 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, Durham University

“Scharen’s book does the seemingly impossible–combine a presentation of Pierre Bourdieu’s work with an introduction to ethnography from a theological perspective. Doing one of these would have been achievement; doing both well while having each feed the other is a double gift. It is sure to be a touchstone for theological ethnography for some time to come.”

Todd Whitmore, University of Notre Dame

“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, University of Chicago

Timothy Snyder is the Communications Coordinator for The Network for Ecclesiology and Ethnography. Contact him at