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This work explores the contribution of major Latin American theologians to the intellectual and pastoral discussion of Christian involvement in contemporary politics. Aguilar argues that within the Latin American context there has been a rediscovery of a fluid, dualistic, and sometimes contradictory relation between the practice of religion and the practice of politics. Christians in the Latin American context were forced to respond to a general crisis in politics, whereby their own beliefs, ritual practices, and way of life was pushed to the limit by human rights violations and absolutist forms of government. The Christian response was a confrontation against the state as was the case of Chile, or a dissenting silence, as was the case of Argentina. However, the historical relations between Church and state, Christian communities and secular powers, were inscribed in literary texts in Latin America. These texts expressed an archaeology of historical and theological memory. Section 1 examines religion and politics within the ecclesial framework provided by Gustavo Gutierrez, Jon Sobrino, and Ronaldo Muoz. Section 2 explores the challenges to those authors by focusing on a more political critique of Christianity and society provided by Pablo Richard, Ernesto Cardenal, and Oscar Romero and section 3 examines challenges to the previous six authors by discussing religion and politics within the context of ecological theology, the feminist critique to biblical studies, and discussions on culture and the Gospel today in Leonardo Boff, Elsa Tamez, and Diego Irarrazaval.
The History and Politics of Latin American Theology explores the contribution of major Latin American theologians to contemporary politics. Within the Latin American context there has been a rediscovery of a fluid and sometimes contradictory relationship between the practice of religion and the practice of politics. Those with religious belief, living in that context, were forced to respond a crisis in politics, whereby their own beliefs, practices, and way life were pushed to the limit by human rights violations and absolutist forms of government. Responses varied widely - from the confrontation against the state in Chile, to the dissenting silence in Argentina. The historical relations between Church and state have been well documented, but with the advent of democratic governments and the collapse of socialist regimes in Eastern Europe those narratives were given less attention by theologians around the globe. However, the basic relations between religion and politics, those relations outlined by pioneers of liberation theology, such as Gutierrez, became a manifesto for religious believers facing contemporary problems both in Latin America and the Third World - contemporary problems of land ownership, the neo-liberal economic conquest of the Third World, the oppression of women, the destruction of rainforests, global warming, orruption, and indigenous rights. The History and Politics of Latin American Theology examines the ecclesial framework in which the manifesto was born, and also examines the contemporary challenges made to those pioneering theologians and the manifesto. Mario I Aguilar is Professor of Religion and Politics, and Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics, at the University of St Andrews, in Scotland. He has a particular interest in the churches, the theology, religion, ritual, and politics of Latin America and Africa, and the relation between anthropology and biblical studies. This is the first of his three volumes on the History and Politics of Latin American Theology, for SCM Press.
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