Thornbury: His work ‘made all the theologians just want to be sociologists when they grew up.’
Peter Berger, an “incurable Lutheran” who became one of America’s most respected sociologists of religion, has died.
Boston University (BU) announced the passing this week of the 88-year-old professor emeritus, who founded the school’s Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs in 1985 and led it to become a leading source of scholarship on “religion in an age of globalization.”
Southern Seminary president Al Mohler praised Berger as “perhaps the most influential social thinker of our times” and “one of the individuals I cite most frequently.”
Berger’s writing was “so good that it made all the theologians just want to be sociologists when they grew up,” stated Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College, in a tweet that also praised scholar Rodney Stark.
“There have been few scholars as independently-minded and as influential,” tweeted Hunter Baker, author of The End of Secularism and a professor of political science at Union University.
Berger was revered among evangelical scholars, though not an evangelical himself.
“This is not my community. I’m evangelisch but not evangelical,” he told Gordon College’s Center for Faith and Inquiry (CFI) in a 2013 interview. “I usually describe myself as incurably Lutheran, but I’m very comfortable with evangelicals. And between evangelicals and mainline Protestants, I prefer evangelicals for reasons theologically.”
Theologian Os Guinness told CT in 2015 that Berger had “probably shaped my mind more than any other living person,” citing the sociologist’s “wonderful idea of ‘signals of transcendence.’” …