The Political Theory of Liberation Theology

Toward a Reconvergence of Social Values and Social Sciences

By John R. Pottenger

Subjects: Liberation Theology
Paperback : 9780791401194, 274 pages, September 1989
Hardcover : 9780791401187, 274 pages, September 1989

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Table of contents



1. The Context of Liberation Theology

The Religious Context

The Political Theoretical Context

Toward Restoring the Moral Critique: Liberation Theology

2. Toward a Methodology for Liberation


Critique of Academic Theology

Limits and Grounding

Liberation Theology as a Process Theology of Society


3. The Marxist-Christian Tension


Conservative Criticisms

Marxisms and Marx

Maintaining the Tension


4. Assessing Latin American Political Economies


The World Economy

The National Security State

Limitations of Liberation Theology's Assessments


5. The Ethics of Reform and Revolution


Reformist Politics

Revolution and Violence


6. Ethics and Social Theory


Human Nature and Politics

Theory Construction

Critical Theory and Liberation Theology


Appendix: Brief Biographies of Selected Liberation Theologians



Liberation Theology

Related Topics



This is the first in-depth look at the political theoretical structure of liberation theology. Pottenger shows how liberation theologians, writing from the perspective of the poor and oppressed, denounce modernity and especially capitalism for having caused poverty and military dictatorships. He evaluates the liberation theologians' methodological approach to political theory and the crucial role of Marxism. He also analyzes liberation theologians' assessment of Latin American political economy and their moral arguments for political activism in response to these assessments.

Pottenger addresses the general question of to what extent liberation theology has achieved its ultimate objective of a just society—of the convergence of traditional social values and modern political science.

John R. Pottenger is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.


"This book goes beyond a simple survey of liberation theology to deal with complex issues linking theory and practice in social life. It offers an overview of the central issues raised by liberation theology and presents its methodological implications. The relation of fact and value is explored, and questions are raised about ethical theory. "— Virginia L. Muller, University of San Diego