Some of the theology texts I have read over the years, and articles and even (faux) news reports suggest that liberation theologians failed in their mission, given the fact that it’s not as popular and “trendy” as it once was in the ’70’s and 80’s. And by all (neoliberal) capitalist definitions of success, liberation theology is a failure. Google “liberation theology” and some of the word associations such as “political violence,” “retreat” and “demise” follow along with it. Once I was at a conference, and confessed at a dinner table at Cracker Barrell that I was a liberation theologian, and one person across the table went on a rant about how violent liberation theology was and how missionaries in Latin America were persecuted. I am pretty sure Liberation Theology is not the only ideology around that has had violent persons believe in it. But if you do not share the idea of what it means to be successful as corporate America, then you get quite a different picture.
Nowadays, even the most conservative of Christian websites cannot help but talk about the suffering of the oppressed (I won’t link to garbage, but the TGC’s recent video about how “dangerous” social justice Christianity is was just hilariously misguided). The fact that the idea of social justice is being talked about (whether it is being done or not, is a different matter), and the fact that liberation theologians’ concerns are being debated hardly means that fundamentalism or process theism has won the day. Theology texts want to make sure that the status quo is self-assured and victorious, by both co-opting the rhetoric of liberation theology as well as announcing its demise, when, in reality, you can’t have it both ways. If something has “retreated” or “defeated,” then why use that community’s words? No, what this means is that LT’s demise has been greatly exaggerated.
In other news, Pope Francis I is going to meet with Gustavo Gutierez, the founder of liberation theology.