The Political Theory of Liberation Theology: Toward a Reconvergence of Social Values and Social Science

By John R. Pottenger | Go to book overview
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Chapter 4

Assessing Latin American Political Economies

Introduction

The methodology of liberation theology takes politics seriously, but not merely as an additional aspect of religious life; it places it squarely in the center of theological development itself. 1 Given the centrality of politics in theological development and religious practice, then, liberation theologians are interested in assessing the dynamics of Latin American society in their search for the causes of social injustice. They claim that an intelligent layout of the political landscape and economic terrain will permit them to explore solutions to social problems in a more sophisticated manner; otherwise they will continue wandering blindly in society and stumbling into overwhelming barriers of power if they follow inappropriate, irrelevant, and detached theological certitudes.

Lacking any original critical social science in either biblical or theological work per se, liberation theologians have been impressed with a variety of modern social analyses that shed some light on contemporary politics. Furthermore, as we have seen, they utilize those studies that assist their initial moral commitment to liberating the poor and oppressed; particularly useful in this regard is Marxist class analysis. 2 In other words, studies of social conditions in Latin America

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