Faith judges history: The Anglo-American religious and political experience, and public theology, as missing elements in political and liberation theology

Ramon Luzarraga, Marquette University

Abstract

Most types of political theology (specifically German political theology and Latin American liberation theology) contain a bias against the efficacy and justice of democratic self-government. Addressing this bias is important because political theology would lack the means to effectively move society from the problems they argue need rectifying to a society reformed to something more congruent to the Kingdom of God. American public theology is the only type of political theology that lacks this bias. Therefore, it should become a resource to all political theology for ideas on how to engage civil society, political processes, and governments, to achieve social change. All three types of political theology are surveyed to show how this bias presents itself within German political and Liberation theology. That is followed by a comparative analysis between two Catholic political theologians from different socio-political backgrounds: the American public theologian John Courtney Murray and the Peruvian liberation theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez. This analysis is preceded by a defense of the Biblical foundations of Murray's overall project. It continues with a historical demonstration defending Murray's argument that the American political experiment is rooted, historically, in a Catholic natural law tradition. Consequently, public theology shares with the rest of political theology sound historical and Biblical warrants for its arguments, making it a credible participant in any dialogue in political theology. This is followed by a discussion of the valid historical reasons behind why Gutiérrez and the Church could not rely on the political process and governments of Latin America, but found new hope for reform and liberation in their own activism, and a new civil society that has emerged among the poor over the last 35 years. This dissertation concludes that the new civil society that has emerged among the poor of Latin America is an opportunity for the Church and liberation theology to achieve the reforms they seek. But, understanding this phenomenon and helping guide it to become a constructive force for change requires their resourcing the knowledge and experience of public theology (not just of Americans but British Commonwealth nations too), and incorporating it to suit Latin American needs.

Recommended Citation

Ramon Luzarraga, "Faith judges history: The Anglo-American religious and political experience, and public theology, as missing elements in political and liberation theology" (January 1, 2006). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI3244564.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI3244564

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