My teaching covers a variety of thinkers, movements, and topics in the history of European and North American religious thought since the seventeenth century and explores the way in which the Christian religion has undergone modernization via its engagement with the rise of modern philosophy, the natural sciences, critical history, and liberal political institutions. My research focuses on German post-Kantian theology and ethics, in particular the thought of the early nineteenth-century theologian, philosopher, and humanist Friedrich Schleiermacher and the early twentieth-century theologian, cultural historian, sociologist, philosopher of history, and ethicist Ernst Troeltsch.
Professor Sockness holds a B.A. in economics from St. Olaf College and an M.A. in Religious Studies and Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Chicago. He is author of Against False Apologetics: Wilhelm Herrmann and Ernst Troeltsch in Conflict (Mohr Siebeck) and co-editor with Wilhelm Gräb of Schleiermacher, the Study of Religion, and the Future of Theology. Sockness has held fellowships from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the American Academy in Berlin, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He is Vice-President of the German Schleiermacher-Gesellschaft. Prof. Sockness is Director of the Honors Program in Ethics in Society, and serves on the Advisory Board of Stanford’s McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society.
Professor Sockness is the Director of the Religious Studies undergraduate program.