Protestant-Catholic-Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology, by Will Herberg
The very title of this book arouses suspicion. The author, who claims to be writing a treatise on sociology, is far from being a professional sociologist. On top of this, he is an enthusiastic advocate of religion. There is always the danger that such a person will be ignorant of important facts, and that he will bend those he does know to fit his theological predilections. Will the attempt to combine theology and sociology, the reader wonders, result in bad sociology and inferior theology?
These doubts are resolved in the first pages of the book. Mr. Herberg’s sociology is both respectable and highly suggestive. And his theology is as impressive as always; he is perhaps the only Jewish lay person in the country who writes authoritatively about current problems of Jewish belief. One must admire this effort to join the absolutistic bent of the theologian with the relativistic frame of reference of the social scientist. Perhaps Mr. Herberg’s example indicates that those who are interested in the scientific study of religion must not themselves be “religiously unmusical” (to use the apt metaphor by which Max Weber, the famous German sociologist of—among other things—religion, characterized himself).
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