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According to a classic definition, theology is faith seeking understanding. Unlike religious studies, it departs from the faith and intends to serve it. Academic Christian theology includes several disciplines such as biblical studies, church history, systematic theology, moral theology or Christian ethics, and pastoral or, more broadly, practical theology. As a sociological rather than a theological specialty, sociology of religion has sought to distinguish itself from theology.

Yet the relation between sociology and theology has been a matter of debate. On the one hand, virtually all theological disciplines have benefited from sociological knowledge, approaches, and methods. On the other hand, both sociologists and theologians have perceived a fundamental opposition between the two. Nevertheless, research and education in sociology of religion are often embedded within theological institutes. ...

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