Tag Archives: liberation theology

sin talk

According to Leonardo Boff, what social analysis calls “structural poverty,” faith calls “structural sin,” and what social analysis calls “the private accumulation of wealth,” faith calls “the sin of selfishness.”  Suffering exists because sin represents the root of all that is wrong with the world…  For liberationists, sin is communal.  All sins, even those committed by individuals, have communal ramifications.  All too often, Eurocentric theology has made sin and its redemption personal.  Sin becomes an act of commission or omission, while salvation from our sinfulness rests in a personal savior in the form of Jesus Christ.  Conversion, however, is never personal but must extend to social transformation.  What is missing for Eurocentric religious thought is the structural nature of sin.  Oppression and poverty as expressions of sin are mostly caused by societal structures that are designed to enrich the few at the expense of the many.

–Miguel A. De La Torre, Liberation Theology for Armchair Theologians, p.54-55

I don’t like the tone of most of this book, but at least there’s this.

More Gutiérrez

Some other passages I’ve liked from A Theology of Liberation:

Continue reading

relevant to certain… recent discussion…

One unifying theme which is present throughout these documents and which reflects a general attitude of the Church is the acknowledgement of the solidarity of the Church with the Latin American reality.  The Church avoids placing itself above this reality, but rather attempts to assume its responsibility for the injustice which it has supported both by its links with the established order as well as by its silence regarding the evils this order implies.  “We recognize that we Christians for want of fidelity to the Gospel have contributed to the present unjust situation through our words and attitudes, our silence and inaction,”claim the Peruvian bishops.  More than two hundred lay persons, priests, and bishops of El Salvador assert that “our Church has not been effective in liberating and bettering the Salvadoran.  This failure is due in part to the above-mentioned incomplete concept of human salvation and the mission of the Church and in part of the fear of losing privileges or suffering persecution.”

–Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation, p. 63


The other two theology books I bought arrived in the mail this week.  The one I’m looking at first is A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutiérrez, because from what I’ve gathered it’s a very foundational text among some parts of the Christian left.  It’s a lot more thick and academic than I expected, very dry and formulaic in that familiar way if you’ve read many academic texts in the social sciences or the humanities.  So I’ve been skipping around a bit instead of reading it straight.

I dislike the way Gutiérrez keeps using “human” to mean “good/moral/just,” but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that he addresses the specific economic/political concept of “development.”  Here’s one of the passages on that:

…One of the most important reasons for this turn of events is that development — approached from an economic and modernizing point of view — has been frequently promoted by international organizations closely linked to groups and governments which control the world economy.   The changes encouraged were to be achieved within the formal structure of the existing institutions without challenging them.  Great care was exercised, therefore, not to attack the interests of large international economic powers nor those of their natural allies, the ruling domestic interest groups.  Furthermore, the so-called changes were often nothing more than new and underhanded ways of increasing the power of strong economic groups.

Developmentalism thus came to be synonymous with reformism and modernization, that is to say, synonymous with timid measures, really ineffective in the long run and counterproductive to achieving a real transformation.  The poor countries are becoming ever more clearly aware that their underdevelopment is only the by-product of the development of the other countries, because of the kind of relationship which exists between the rich and the poor countries.  Moreover, they are realizing that their own development will come about only with a struggle to break the domination of the rich countries.

This perception sees the conflict implicit in the process.  Development must attack the root causes of the problems and among them the deepest is economic, social, political, and cultural dependence of some countries upon others — an expression of the domination of some social classes over others.  Attempts to bring about changes within the existing order have proven futile.  This analysis of the situation is at the level of scientific rationality.  Only radical break from the status quo, that is, a profound transformation of the private property system, access to power of the exploited class, and a social revolution that would break this dependence would allow for the change to a new society…

–Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation, p.17

This is a theology book, y’all.

I think I’m in the right place.