With the inductive and historicist turn in theological method, the social sciences have become an important handmaid of theology. The interaction between theology and the social sciences, however, has been characterized, on the one hand, as one of alliance, and, on the other, as one of conflict. Structures of Sin, Cultures of Meaning seeks to advance the dialogue and collaboration between them. Social science considers religion primarily as a social institution and as a cultural system. The first part of the book explains what a social institution is, why religion is a social institution, and elaborates on its implications for theology in such areas as the bureaucratization of religion, the formation of the structures of injustice, the preferential option for the poor. Three additional chapters discuss the failure of collegiality at Vatican II, the relationship of religion to the social institutions of the economy and of politics. The second part elucidates on what a cultural system is, why religion is a cultural system, and its consequences for theology in such areas as religious identity and community, Christian ethics and formation, evangelization and inculturation. Three additional chapters deal with the anthropology of religion, secularization and fundamentalism, and religious conflict and violence. The social structures and cultures of the past impinge on those of the present to create the challenges of today and the possibilities for tomorrow. People make history and do theology in the circumstances created by social structures and cultures of meaning.