50 years of Gustavo Gutierrez’s Theology of Liberation

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first English edition of Gustavo Gutierrez’s landmark book, Theology of Liberation, writes Leo Guardado, a presenter at the Cardijn Conference in Cincinnati in 2018.

“That first edition of Gutiérrez’s book served as a primary introduction to a new way of doing theology and becoming church with the poor and insignificant,” Leo writes.

“A Theology of Liberation is a significant book about the insignificant ones of history who live in insignificant worlds. Insignificance is the prism for grasping what is at the heart of the book, what it points to, what it resignifies. For something or someone to be considered significant means that it is recognized as something known, confirmed as something important. Conversely, that which is insignificant lacks meaning, does not convey anything of importance, does not transcend itself in signification. Insignificant ones exist without leaving a mark in history, and ultimately, they lack historical presence.

A Theology of Liberation discerned the irruption of the presence of the poor into a world of signification, with the biblical claim that it is insignificant persons who most signify and make present the presence of God. In the original Spanish introduction to the book, Gutiérrez clarified that the book’s real question is the theological status of the process of liberation; phrased differently, it is about the deep meaning of faith and the mission of the church in a world of captivity. To be Christian, to be church, the book argued, is to live permanently a process of liberation whose referent is always the mystery of God made flesh, who in radical freedom chooses what is insignificant for God’s own revelation. To grasp the irruption of the presence of the poor, one must undergo an epistemological rupture, a new way of encountering and reading reality through faith in the living God.”


Leo Guardado, 50 years later, Gustavo Gutierrez’s ‘A Theology of Liberation’ remains prophetic (America Magazine)