Atheism in liberation Theology
Gustavo Gutiérrez: |
non-believers and non-persons The power
of the poor in history (Orbis: NY 1984) viii, 92
But there is another methodological difference between "our" way of doing
theology and the liberation way, which Gutiérrez indicates many times in
these essays; the two theologies respond to different interlocutors.
Gutiérrez sees northern hemisphere theology as a sustained attempt to
answer the questions of nonbelievers, the ones for whom, in the modern
world, belief has become difficult because of the Enlightenment, or modern
science, or technology. Such questions are primarily intellectual. But in the
situation in which Gutiérrez lives, the questions are posed by those whom
he calls non-persons, the "marginated," those for whom society has no
place, those pushed away from the responsibility of a fully human
- preface: Robert McAfee Brown, viii
The bourgeois revolutions of eighteenth-century Europe promulgated a code of
"modern freedoms." Theology today in Europe and North America has come to grips
with this modern mentality. Its historical agent is the bourgeois middle class.
This is the point of departure of "progressive" theology--which it explicitly and
perceptively recognizes to be its conversation with the "modern human
being"--that distinguishes it from "traditional" theology. "Traditional" theology
is theology still bearing the mark of the feudal world. It has stuck fast in the
ancien regime and the world of classical philosophy. ...
The same point of departure also distinguishes "progressive" theology from the
theology of liberation. The theology of liberation begins not with the
problematic of the "modern (bourgeois) human being," but with that of the poor
and dispossessed--those whom the bourgeois dominators seek to maintain "without a
history," while they present their own, middle-class society, which they only
just molded, as pertaining to the natural and constant order of things.
the oppressed and marginalized are oppressed and marginalized precisely by the
interlocutor of "progressive" theology-by the bourgeois class. ...
"Progressive" theology seeks to answer the questions of the nonbeliever;
liberation theology confronts the challenge of the nonperson. The spirit
of modernity, typically skeptical, or even frankly nonbelieving, where
religion is concerned, calls the faith into question by challenging the meaning
of religion for human life. Its critique originates in an individualistic, and
indeed critical, mentality. It takes its point of departure in its own
proclamation of the modern freedoms. It prefers to situate the debate on
religious terrain, attacking the philosophical presuppositions and historical
truth of religion, along with the role of the church in traditional