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Liberation Theology 

Gustavo Gutiérrez notes in A Theology of Liberation (1973) that the problem which liberation theology seeks to address is "what relation is there between salvation and the historical process in the liberation of man?" This distinguishes liberation theology from any attempt at making human liberation a "spiritual matter." Gutierrez urged that "the work of salvation is a reality which occurs in history." Liberation theology is a Latin American response both to the fresh winds of Vatican II and to the crushing political and economic oppression experienced by the poor of Latin America. Although liberation theology has been centered in Latin America, its growth may be seen in theological calls for liberation of oppressed people in a variety of contexts and places. Its influence may be seen in the related movements of African American theology and feminist theology. Certain themes are characteristic of liberation theology: 1) Conscientization, or bringing into awareness one's own situation and its causes; 2) The use of Marxist analysis as a discriminate social analysis concerning the present historical situation of oppression; 3) The insistence of the union of thought and praxis; 4) The recovery of biblical themes as a basis for reflection; and 5) The condemnation of "development" in capitalist terms as a solution to poverty. Such development is understood as a cover for the benefit of the powerful. The answer to oppression in liberation theology is not development but the participation of the poor in the struggle for justice. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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