Item description for Contextual Theology for Latin America: Liberation Themes in Evangelical Perspective (Paternoster Theological Monographs) by Sharon E. Heaney & Samuel Escobar...
Overview In the context of Latin America, the theology of liberation is both dominant and world renowned. However, this context and the pursuit of theological relevance belong also to other voices. Orlando E. Costas, Samuel Escobar, J. Andrew Kirk, Emilio A. Nzqez and C. Reni Padilla are thinkers who have sought to bring an evangelical understanding of liberation to the people of Latin America. Despite their influence on national and international theology and despite their transformative contribution to the praxis of churches ministering in contexts of poverty, their thought has not been systematized to dates. This work deals with this lacuna presenting the vitality of Latin American evangelical theology which seeks to be biblical, relevant and missiologically effective, thus offering a liberation which is holistic and grounded in the kingdom of God.
Publishers Description In the context of Latin America, the theology of liberation is both dominant and world renowned. However, this context and the pursuit of theological relevance belong also to other voices. Orlando E. Costas, Samuel Escobar, Andrew Kirk, Emilio A. Nunez and C. Rene Padilla are thinkers who have sought to bring an evangelical understanding of liberation to the people of Latin America. Despite their influence on national and international theology, and despite their transformative contribution to the praxis of churches ministering in contexts of poverty, their thought has not been systematized to date. This work deals with this Iacuna presenting the vitality of Latin American evangelical theology which seeks to be biblical, relevant and missiologically effective, thus offering a liberation which is holistic and grounded in the kingdom of God.
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Sharon E. Heaney was educated at Carrickfergus Grammar School and Queens University, Belfast. She holds an honours degree from Queens University in Theology and Hispanic Studies. Presently, Dr. Heaney teaches Religious Studies at Bloxham School, Oxfordshire, England. She lives in Oxford with her husband, Robert, and son, Sam.
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Ground breaking work in Latin American contextual theology Jan 26, 2009
Sharon E. Heaney's new book is a significant contribution to the expanding body of literature on liberation theology. She writes about five evangelical scholars who engage with themes in liberation theology: Orlando E. Costas, Samuel Escobar, J. Andrew Kirk, Emilio Antonio Núñez, and C. René Padilla. She often juxtaposes these Latin American evangelical theologians with liberation theologians, whom she characterizes as dominated by Roman Catholic theologians, such as Gutiérrez and Segundo. However, she does not exclude non-Catholic liberation theologians such as Míguez Bonino. Heaney does not structure the book in sections devoted to her five primary interlocutors. Instead, she provides an original scholarly interpretation of evangelical liberation themes within the Latin American context.
The book is organized into nine chapters. After an introduction, the second chapter examines the history of Latin America and its theological context, giving special attention to evangelical perspectives. Chapter three looks more specifically at the context of evangelicalism in Latin America, in which a number of ecclesiastical bodies are represented. For example, there are the Baptists: Costas, Escobar, and Padilla. In chapter four, the author explores a theological method for Latin American contextual theology, including an excellent crystallization of Gutiérrez's liberation theology (pp. 71-76). This provides a good point of departure for her comparison with the evangelical context.
Heaney consistently draws out the characteristics distinguishing Latin American evangelical theology from liberation theology. She writes, "The evangelical critique of liberationist methodology is rooted in the evangelical commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture" (p. 247), and she explores this hermeneutical theme in chapter five. Chapter six is a substantial summation of general themes (e.g. sin, salvation, etc.) as understood specifically in Latin American evangelical contextual theology. Chapters seven, eight, and nine look at christology, ecclesiology, and missiology, respectively. Each chapter highlights specific contributions from Costas, Escobar, Kirk, Núñez, and Padilla, giving more attention to the ones who have written the most about a given subject. Her treatment is fair and she highlights the most relevant thinkers on each topic.
One of the major contributions of Contextual Theology for Latin America is Heaney's engagement with texts that have not been translated into English. In doing so, she provides non-Spanish readers with access to important theologians who have often been ignored, simply because they have not been translated into English. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand how theology is not confined to the countries of the North Atlantic.
Definately good Oct 1, 2008
Book Review, by J. Daniel Salinas Ph.D.
Contextual Theology for Latin America: Liberation Themes in Evangelical Perspective, by Sharon E. Heaney, Paternoster Theological Monographs, Wipf & Stock, 2008.
Misconceptions about Latin American evangelical theology are many. But after Heaney's work there is no excuse to plead ignorance. This book fills a huge void in the scholarship and will become a compulsory text for everyone with interest in learning about a mostly unknown side of evangelicalism. Her portray of evangelical theology from Latin America as "vibrant, biblical, coherent, wholeheartedly evangelical, and sensitively contextual" (250) leaves the reader with a longing to learn more about the subject matter. Heaney weaves history, cultural analysis, and theological prowess to present an impressive picture of what has happened south of the Rio Grande in the Christian community both Roman Catholic and evangelical. In a creative way, Heaney compares the parallel developments of liberation theologies and evangelical theology showing the common context but at the same time the important differences between the two. In my own research, I found that those whom Heaney calls evangelical are considered liberationists in many religious circles in the North Atlantic countries. I hope her clear and painstaking explanation removes once and for all those unfounded opinions.
In spite of Heaney's well-done research I found a few lacunae both in content and sources. Among the former, she overlooks the fact that Roman Catholicism in Latin America is not only a religion but a culture. Even non-religious Latin Americans would identify themselves as "Catholics". Roman Catholicism has provided many elements that shaped the general Latin American ethos and worldview. Therefore, when talking about Roman Catholicism it should be clearly explained if the reference is to the religious or the cultural. This distinction is quite hard to understand for those who, like Heaney, view Latin America from a distance. Such differentiation would have helped her explain some elements of Liberation Theologies which evangelicals criticize more strongly. Another fact she overlooked is the powerful influence of dispensationalism on the majority of evangelicals in Latin America. Many of the theological emphases and themes the people Heaney includes in her book were directly or indirectly aimed at the teachings of dispensationalism. For example, until the 1970s the hermeneutics was monochromatic closely following the dispensational school. The theologians presented in the book were the first ones who broke that spell and defined other hermeneutical horizons, an accomplishment of vast proportions. Had Heaney contrasted the evangelical theology she introduced with dispensationalism, she would have had many more reasons to show its relevance.
Heaney would have benefited from Diememme E. Noelliste's dissertation "The Church and Human Emancipation: A Critical Comparison of Liberation Theology and the Latin American Theological Fraternity" (Northwestern University, 1987). Noelliste covers much of the same ground with a different methodology though. Another classical dissertation on the subject is Pius Franz Helfenstein, "Evangelikale Theologie der Befreidung. Das Reich Gottes in der Theologie der `Fraternidad Teologica Latinoamericana' und der Gägigen Befreiungstheologie, ein Vergleich" (Basel University, 1991). However, in spite of these minor details this book is definitely a must in any library.