A GANDHIAN THEOLOGY OF LIBERATION

IGNATIUS JESUDASAN, Marquette University

Abstract

Though Gandhi did not produce a formal and systematic theology of liberation, he worked for the cause of liberation and laid down his life in that process, and wrote and spoke about liberation from a religious and theological perspective, namely of faith. This dissertation attempts a systematic presentation of Gandhi's concept and theology of liberation in the context of its development in the historic experience of India's liberation. While that which is known as the theology of liberation is recent and Latin American in origin, the experience from which such theology arises is generic and hence universal to such social situations as are marked by alienation, enslavement, oppression, dependency and underdevelopment on the one hand, and a religio-political faith in, and commitment to, liberation on the other. In this respect, liberation theologies conform in breadth to the paradigm or ideal type of the Passover or Exodus experience of the Biblical Jews. The problem of a Christian theology of liberation is one of conformity in breadth and in depth to the paradigm or ideal type of the paschal experience of Jesus Christ. Conformity to paradigms or ideal types takes place at two related but distinct levels--primarily in the praxis or experience of imitation, and secondarily or as aiding the praxis, at the level of theory, as critical hermeneutic mediation. The critical mediation of conformity to the paradigm of the paschal experience of Jesus Christ has been rendered problematic to liberation theologies by a depoliticized privatization of Christian attitudes in and through a sacramental spiritualism, even though such privatization is alien to sacramental theology and spirituality. While the Latin American theology of liberation has had to fight this privatization in order to free itself of its shackles, in the interests of a practical and political conformity to the Christian paradigm of all liberation, the openness and spiritual catholicity of Gandhi's Hinduism and its relative freedom from institutional teaching authority freed Gandhi from the requirement of any apology for his political mediation of a conformity to Christ interpreted as an ideal type not only for spiritual salvation, but for political liberation as well. Gandhi performed this task of the critical hermeneutic mediation of Christ in the way or method he adopted for the liberation of India from English domination and other socio-religious evils. Since Gandhi's concept of liberation was born of his commitment to the struggle for it, a chapter is devoted to the history of the freedom struggle. Chapter two exposes Swaraj as Gandhi's evergrowing and dynamic concept of liberation. Chapter three exposes and makes explicit the theological roots of Gandhi's concept of Swaraj. The Christological dimension and function of Gandhi's praxis of liberation and the theology of it are exposed in chapter four. Chapter five depicts Gandhi's vision of a liberated society. Chapter six is an evaluation of Gandhi's theology and Christology in the context of the praxis of liberation. This is not a criticism of other theologies of liberation. No comparison or contrast with any of them is even attempted in this work. Rather, this is a study, of a great religious figure in history, whose faith led him to politics. It attempts to demonstrate the possibility and workability of a spiritual transformation of politics from within, and of how a political application of the cross of Christ can mediate political salvation. Gandhi showed on the stage of world history how the process of liberation demands the values symbolized by the Cross. His example and his teaching ought to influence all political and liberation theologies.

Recommended Citation

IGNATIUS JESUDASAN, "A GANDHIAN THEOLOGY OF LIBERATION" (January 1, 1980). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8104805.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8104805

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