The Theology of Liberation in Latin America -- By: Emilio A. Nú-ez

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 134:536 (Oct 1977)
Article: The Theology of Liberation in Latin America
Author: Emilio A. Nú-ez


The Theology of Liberation in Latin America

Emilio A. Nú-ez

[Emilio A. Nú-ez, Rector, Central American Theological Seminary, Guatemala City, Guatemala.]

In Roman Catholic as well as in Protestant circles, theology in Latin America has historically been simply a repetition of what has been said in Europe and the United States. The Latin American churches have only echoed the theology formed in other cultures, rather than contributing to the development of Christian thought. But this situation has begun to change, especially since the 1960s. For the first time in the history of Christianity, a theological movement is coming out of Latin America which has awakened the interest of the experts in those countries which seemed to have a monopoly on the science of theology.

That the so-called “Latin American theology” is not totally original is obvious. What theology could be original after nearly twenty centuries of Christian thought? If the Latin American theologians have anything original, it is their effort to relate their concept of Christianity to the Latin culture.

The Latin American theological current best known outside this continent is no doubt the already-famous “theology of liberation.” Simply stated, the theology of liberation is an effort on the part of Catholic and liberal Protestant theologians in Latin America to provide a theology which they trust will serve as the base for the “liberation” of oppressed peoples. It has become popular because it proposes to relate theology to the Latin American scene and to speak theologically to socio-political needs. Because of the widespread influence of this theological position and because of its implications for missionary endeavors and churches throughout Latin

American countries, it is imperative that the so-called theology of liberation be examined carefully by evangelicals. Evangelicals in North America who are interested in and involved in missionary endeavors in the Latin sector of the Western Hemisphere will benefit from an awareness of this pervasive system of theological thought.

Church and Society in Latin America (ISAL)

Although ISAL (Igiesia y Sociedad en la América Latina) has basically the same emphasis as the Roman Catholic theology of liberation, it began as a Protestant movement offering a liberating option to the Latin American people. ISAL proposes not only theological reflection but also a plan of action to help in the economic, political, and social transformation of underdeveloped nations in Latin America.

The History of the Movement

The roots of ISAL are in the youth movements that sought to promote the socia...

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