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A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation (15th Anniversary Edition with New Introduction by Author) Paperback – March 1, 1988

4.3 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Spanish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Gustavo Guti rrez, a Dominican theologian from Peru, is widely recognized as one of the preeminent voices of liberation theology. His books include A Theology of Liberation, On Job, We Drink from Our Own Wells, and The God of Life.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books; Revised edition (March 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0883445425
  • ISBN-13: 978-0883445426
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Theology of Liberation is a recognized classic in its field, which, one can even say, the author, Peruvian Dominican monk, Gustavo Gutierrez, literally invented the field since he coined the term "Liberation Theology" in a 1969 paper on the subject, shortly after the 1968 Medellin conference of Bishops, at which he was a consultant.

The book may be one of the first full explorations of what is now called "contextual theologies", presentations of Christian theology "from the underside", from the point of view of the severely, chronically disadvantaged peoples of the world. The long and the short of this book is that the importance of Gutierrez message deserves its weighty title, but Gutierrez weakens his case by slighting contemporary and historical theology and ignoring some central "theological" issues. But the book has reached the status of "classic" and for that reason deserves to be read today.

What may surprise some people is the fact that Gutierrez is not presenting a radical point of view. The book follows hard on a decade of dramatic moves by the Catholic Church, beginning with Pope John XXIII's 1963 encyclical, Pacem in Terris, the first addressed to the whole world, rather than to the Catholic faithful. The eventful half decade ended with the close of the Vatican Council II, under Pope Paul VI and his 1968 encyclical, Populorum Progressio, which stated that the economy of the world should serve everyone, not a privileged few. Thus, Gutierrez is firmly within the heart of Catholic teachings, when he speaks for the disadvantaged of the almost entirely Catholic continent of South America.

The sense of "contextual theology" is that doctrines grow out of the circumstances and practice (praxis) of a particular part of the world.
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This is the first and probably the most crucial book on Liberation Theology to follow Vatican II and the Medellin conferences. It's not an easy book to read, but it will challenge you, as well as challenge what you think you know about liberation theology. For any student of modern theology this book is well worth the time and effort. Robert McAfee Brown's summary book is no substitute for the real thing.
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...penned by the man who coined the term "Liberation Theology," which later inspired Ignacio Martin-Baro's "Liberation Psychology," for which he was martyred by a Salvadoran hit team.
My impression was that this was written mainly for clergy getting their activist feet wet. In that sense the book is an invaluable milestone. Because of this, it poses liberation (in the sense of liberation from oppressive social conditions like poverty and tyranny) as an intellectual issue, historically and theologically. Correction: it appeals to an intellectual understanding of what the author obviously has lived and felt very deeply.
Having just read LOVE IN A TIME OF HATE, I bought this book expecting to read flesh-and-blood examples of liberation theology as brought into the streets. You won't find much of that here. It's more of an account of how the movement has gone on in circles theological. As such, it poses vital questions to believers and clergy alike--questions of conscience, questions of the relevance of Scripture and the risks involved in living a Christian life of service and conscience in perilous situations.
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The importance of this book can't be overstated for the serious Christian, especially in the US . "Liberation Theology" has decades of mythology-accretion--here is the wellspring. A careful book, separating reality from myth, crediting its sources and inspirations meticulously, it brings a new understanding and appreciation for the love of God in and through confrontation with people whose health, families, lives are damaged by poverty.
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Originally written in 1971, this revised edition contains a new introduction, in addition to the original, and the reworking of portions of the first edition. While many similar ideals had been circulating prior to its publication, and were expressed in the Vatican II Council documents (1965) and the Medellin Conference (1968), A Theology of Liberation marks the official launching of the liberation theology movement and Gustavo Gutiérrez is seen as its father. Since then liberation theology continues to spread, morph and influence the Christian community not only in Latin America but throughout the world. While not embraced in totality, many of its ideas have filtered into the evangelical church and are expressed in the latest round of the social gospel. In A Theology of Liberation we find the roots of this social agenda being espoused by key Christian leaders and organizations today.

A Theology of Liberation is a dense, detailed, intense and difficult volume to comprehend. Esoteric language is often used and uncommon words found throughout. It probably doesn’t help that the book was originally written in Spanish and translated and retranslated into English. I found it redundant, repetitive and contradictory at times, nevertheless key concepts emerge. Some of the most important ones are:

• Liberation theology is not a call for social and economic development (which is rejected) but a call for revolution (pp. 16-17), a permanent culture revolution (p. 21) that may include violence (p. 64).
• It is a rejection of capitalism and promotion of socialism (pp. 17, 20, 54-55, 65-66, 116, 158-159). There must be liberation from capitalistic countries, especially the United States, and overthrow of private ownership of property (p. 150).
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