Liberation Theologies in America
- Craig L. NessanCraig L. NessanWartburg Theological Seminary
Liberation theologies employ action-reflection (praxis-oriented) methodologies in response to particular forms of oppression, normally consisting of five elements: 1) identification with particular forms of oppression and suffering, 2) prophetic critique of that condition, 3) social analysis of the causes of oppression and suffering, 4) biblical and theological engagement to address that suffering and overcome that oppression, and 5) advocacy of structural change toward a greater approximation of justice. Liberation theologies engage in intentional reflection upon particular experiences in which these five elements interact dynamically according to the forms of suffering and oppression specific to particular populations, historical experiences, and contexts.
Liberation theologies are contextual theologies, emerging in specific locations and times, and are formulated to address specific forms of suffering and oppression by employing methods of social analysis, which draw upon the sciences (especially the social sciences), and biblical-theological reflection, which draws upon Scripture, religious history, and doctrine. Because these theologies deal with the suffering and oppression of particular endangered groups, central to their concerns are the definition of the human; analysis of sin, especially structural sin that diminishes the worth and status of those in each particular group; and drawing upon theological resources to advocate justice for each oppressed group, including creation itself. Liberation theologies have been subject to affirmation and criticism in the theological literature since their emergence in the 1960s.
Major forms of liberation theology include Latin American liberation theology, black liberation theologies, feminist theologies, womanist theologies, Latina/o and mujerista theologies, Native American liberation theologies, LGBTQ+ liberation theologies, and ecojustice theologies. Liberation theologies in America frequently engage in solidarity with liberation theologies in other global contexts. Antecedents of liberation theologies include the abolitionist, social gospel, and women’s suffrage movements, among others.
Emergence of Liberation Theologies
The term “liberation theology” can be attributed both to the writings Gustavo Gutiérrez in Latin America and James H. Cone in the United States, each of whom used this formulation in 1968. Latin American liberation theology and black liberation theology emerged concurrently, yet independently, in relation to two distinctive forms of oppression and suffering in the contexts of Latin America and the United States.
Latin American liberation theology originated as a response to extreme poverty at the confluence of two movements: 1) Protestant writings and activities related to the World Council of Churches, particularly those associated with the organization called Church and Society in Latin America” (ISAL—Iglesia y Sociedad en la America Latina); and 2) Roman Catholic writings and activities in Latin America following Vatican II, particularly those associated with the National Office of Social Information (ONIS—Oficina Nacional de Información Social) in Peru.
Black liberation theology originated as a response to white racism in the United States following the activism of the civil rights and Black Power movements as theologians began to reflect critically on the role of Christian teaching in light of black experiences of suffering and oppression. The deliberations of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization and of the National Committee of Black Churchmen, with its response to the Black Manifesto and the issuing of its statement on Black Theology, were formative influences on the emergence of black liberation theology.1
The conference “Theology in the Americas: 1975” was held in Detroit to explore the meaning of Latin American liberation theology for the United States.2 This event confronted North American theologians with the basic concerns of Latin American liberation theology, and Latin American liberation theologians with the differences in the North American context, especially the issues of racism and sexism.3 A second Theology in the Americas conference was held in Detroit in August 1980 and sought to address the mutual criticisms made at the earlier conference.4
The Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians served as a global forum for the concerns of liberation theologians. While Latin American liberation theology gave an initial impetus, increasing attention was given to the particularity of other Third World contexts (especially in Asia and Africa).5 During the formative period, international ecumenical congresses were held in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) in 1976, Accra (Ghana) in 1977, Colombo (Sri Lanka) in 1979, Sao Paulo (Brazil) in 1980, New Delhi (India) in 1981, and Geneva (Switzerland) in 1983. The Sao Paulo meeting emphasized Latin American base Christian communities (comunidades eclesiales de base) and gave increased attention to the oppression of women and blacks in Latin America, indicative of responsiveness to the concerns raised at the Theology in the Americas conferences.
North American Responses to Latin American Liberation Theology
North American discussion of Latin American liberation theology became extremely polarized between critics and advocates in the decade after its emergence. Four central issues were identified by critics requiring clarification from Latin American liberation theologians: philosophical foundations, theological method, theological anthropology, and the meaning of salvation/liberation. Particular questions were raised about the role of Marxist philosophy and social analysis as employed by some Latin American liberation theologians, raising the question of whether it was merely an ideological justification for a predetermined course of action.6 The theological anthropology was questioned by those asking whether it fails to acknowledge human sinfulness with sufficient seriousness. Critics also raised questions about confusing salvation with historical progress. The Protestant understanding of salvation as “justification by grace through faith” was contrasted with liberation theology’s insistence upon the gospel as “good news for the poor.” Contributing to the North American discussion of Latin American liberation theology, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church issued two instructions criticizing Latin American liberation theology especially for its use of Marxism and how it relates to violence as a means of social change.7
Advocates for Latin American liberation theology contended that a constructive approach needed to transcend the impasse of polarization through two complementary moves: 1) critical appreciation through an authentic encounter with the theology’s fundamental logic and arguments and 2) self-criticism based on the limitations of one’s own context for understanding the arguments of those in another context. Latin American liberation theologians have constructed a theological paradigm that advocates for justice in Latin American social, economic, political, and ecclesial structures. Theologians in North America critical of the theological method, formulations, or praxis of Latin American liberation theology were challenged to recognize the particularity of the contexts in which liberation theology originated and to re-examine the contextual nature of their own theologies. North American theologians who immersed themselves in the Latin American context and experienced for themselves the situation of Latin American poverty and oppression often came to a new recognition of the validity of Latin American liberation theology.
Black Liberation Theologies
Black liberation theology in the United States emerged out of the long struggle for the freedom and equality of black people from the legacy of slavery; Jim Crow laws; lynching; Black Power; and ever new manifestations of oppression, including the structural violence of mass incarceration and acts of police brutality. Resources for black liberation theology include slave narratives, Negro spirituals, the Harlem Renaissance, jazz, poetry (James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou), literature (Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison), black resistance to oppression exemplified by the writings and biographies of significant witnesses (Sojourner Truth, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr.). Black liberation theologians take the history of white racism; the struggle for justice, including the civil rights movement; and sources of hope among black people as the point of departure for their program of reimagining and articulating theology according to the black experience in America.
Racism is not merely individual prejudice but the embedding of white privilege into the structures of society at every level. At stake in black liberation theology is the full humanity, dignity, participation, and equal treatment of black people in every aspect of American life, including education, access to public accommodations, voting rights, employment, housing, health care, legal rights, political representation, entitlement programs, and social security. Dismantling structural racism through social analysis and biblical and theological resources is at the center of black liberation theologies. Drawing upon the Bible, church history, theological resources, black religious traditions, and black culture, black liberation theologians criticize and reconfigure Christian theology to attain these purposes. This project begins with the recognition that the suffering and oppression of black people is a violation of their inherent worth as human beings made in the image of God. This core conviction provides the basis for the structural analysis of white racism as America’s original sin. Theological reflection on the history of the enslavement of African people, the Middle Passage, and the economic exploitation of slave labor demonstrates how white supremacy over black people was enacted by European slave traders and incorporated systemically from the beginning of colonial settlement in the New World.
Deconstructing binary categories that pit black against white and hierarchical thinking that subordinates black people to white people is key to a theological anthropology that respects the dignity of black people within a doctrine of creation that declares all persons as created good, regardless of color or race, according to God’s design. Sin involves the assertion of the superiority of whiteness over blackness, and critical engagement is necessary to deconstruct the racism that has imposed domination and perpetrated oppression in the church through structures such as separatism and subordination. Salvation is interpreted as liberation from the sinful structures that hold black people in bondage and is enacted by the God who incorporates the agency of black people through resistance, organization, and demands for racial justice. Salvation as liberation was reflected in the spirituals sung by enslaved peoples that encoded hope for freedom from slavery as deliverance to the Promised Land. Liberation as a category for interpreting salvation is thus not limited to life after death but involves fullness of life in society beyond white hegemony. This liberation encompasses the full range of human rights, including both economic and political justice, guaranteed under the rule of law.
The working of salvation by the Black Christ is a provocative formulation to assert the solidarity of Jesus Christ with endangered black people. Jesus Christ reveals the God of the oppressed, who sides with black people in their struggles for liberation. In his teaching and ministry, Jesus Christ revealed God’s partiality to suffering, endangered, and subjugated black people throughout their history and in their contemporary experiences of oppression. The cross of Jesus Christ reveals that he suffers with and for black people in their experiences of being a crucified people over past generations to the present. The juxtaposition of the Christ’s execution on the cross with the intimidation and killing of black people on the lynching tree is an especially poignant contribution of black liberation theology. This paradigm, which underscores the role of white people in enforcing structural injustice against black people, raises questions about the possibility of reconciliation between black and white people. Repentance by white people for their complicity in white privilege and amendment of life in relation to the benefits accrued from white racism through dismantling structural racism is imperative for truth and reconciliation. White people need to recognize the American history of slavery and racism as a form of genocide.
Historic black churches have made significant contributions to the implementation of black liberation theology at the grassroots. Their efforts have involved a holistic approach to fostering faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ by combining evangelical preaching with social activism for civil rights. Many of the formative figures in black liberation theology have been Christian ministers (Richard Allen, Adam Clayton Powell Sr., Howard Thurman). The distinctive style and practice of black preaching—exposition of the biblical text, storytelling, dramatic repetition, and call-response—have enriched the history of homiletics. Insistence on the social implications of the gospel have influenced black church leaders and members to become involved in movements for social change through community organizing and nonviolent direct action. Deep conviction about the work of the Holy Spirit in history through the power of the spoken word and courageous deeds are embedded in church traditions with affinity for black liberation theology. Eschatological hope for liberty and justice for all, including black people, translates the expectation of heaven into worldly activism.
The central sources of authority for black liberation theology include not only the justice trajectory within the Bible (exodus, prophetic writings, and the teachings of Jesus), classical formulations of the Christian tradition, and the writings of theologians, but especially draw upon the authenticity of black experience. The experiences of black people have normative authority as resources for doing theology. Black liberation theology insists that black experiences be taken with utmost seriousness in advocating for structural change to attain racial justice and equality.
Feminist theologies emerged out of the experiences of women dealing with a long history of subordination, discrimination, and oppression in response to hierarchical patriarchy. The suffering of women has been intensified by the inherently patriarchal character of the Bible as the primary authority for Christian theology. While many feminist theologians have chosen to remain within the Christian tradition even while criticizing and reconstructing it, several feminist thinkers have rejected Christianity as beyond repair, turning instead to goddess spiritualties or other philosophical commitments. Social movements providing antecedents for 20th-century feminist theologies include those promoting women’s suffrage, divorce law reform, and women’s property rights. Feminist theologies share with the larger feminist movement concern for particular issues confronting women in society: equal pay, inclusive language, sexual harassment, sexual violence, reproductive rights, maternity leave, and domestic violence.
Feminist theologies are committed to the full equality of women and men by engaging in a comprehensive reinterpretation and revision of Christian teachings and practices in response to sexism, misogyny, and gender injustice. A particular and enduring focus of feminist theologies involves developing new approaches to biblical interpretation in challenging and overcoming the patriarchal character of Scripture as the central authority for Christian teaching. Initially this effort focused on the recovery of women’s voices and stories within the biblical narrative, granting these a new level of importance (Deborah, Ruth, Phoebe). This effort was extended to excavating the roles and influence of women hidden within the biblical narratives. Feminist biblical scholars engaged in deconstructing not only passages authorizing blatant discrimination against women in the Bible (the command that women are to remain silent in church) but the very fabric of the patriarchal world in which Scripture is embedded. Stories transmitting violence against women or rape were unmasked as “texts of terror” whose only function was as a call to vigilance. The household codes of the New Testament letters which exhort wives to dutiful obedience to their husbands were challenged by locating these within the 1st-century context and thus circumscribing their authority. Commentaries on individual biblical books and on the entire canon have expanded the range and influence of feminist scholarship as a resource for all of theology.
Feminist theologians have criticized the misogyny entrenched in patristic, medieval, Reformation, and modern sources, as well recovered women’s writings, stories, and biographies throughout church history. Church fathers such as Jerome and Augustine, medieval authorities like Thomas Aquinas, Reformation figures including Luther and Calvin, and modern theologians from Schleiermacher to Barth operated according to an assumed theological anthropology that disregarded, subordinated, and/or negated women. In the theological recovery of the feminine, special attention has been given to the significance of Mary, not only within the Bible but through the development of Mariology. Miriam, the mother of Jesus, serves as a particular exemplar of Christian faith, discipleship, and especially prophetic utterance against the rule of the strong over the weak. The appearance and commemoration of Our Lady of Guadalupe is of particular importance for the indigenization of Christian faith in the Americas, especially in Hispanic culture. The writings of medieval women mystics (Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, Margery Kempe) have contributed to renewed vibrancy of classical spiritual practices and spirituality. The synthesis of prayer and social activism by modern Christian women (Simone Weil, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa) have inspired courageous speaking and acting of behalf the weakest in society.
Feminist theologians have given major attention to all central themes of Christian theology. In relation to the doctrine of God, centuries of presuming the maleness of the deity is a pervasive theological challenge. Applied to the doctrine of the Trinity, defending the maleness of the Father in conjunction with the assertion that maleness belongs to the salvific character of the incarnation of the Son reinforces notions of male superiority, establishing the foundational myth that undergirds patriarchy. Feminist theologies critique and creatively reconstruct the entire theological tradition to argue that God is by definition beyond gender and to address the question of whether a male Christ can save women. What is salvific about Jesus cannot be his maleness; instead, through the incarnation, Jesus assumed the fullness of all humanity. The struggle continues for the church to shift its deeply established patriarchal paradigm to fully incorporate an understanding of God and Christology that goes beyond gender hierarchy. The consistent use of expansive language when talking about God—employing a range of metaphors for God, including feminine images—counteracts the identification of God as a male. Inclusive language when talking about human beings is vital for transforming the conceptualization and articulation of God and humanity beyond the gender binary.
The doctrine of creation is another key focal point for feminist theologies. Instead of affirming the equal status of man and woman as created good in the image of God (Genesis 1), Christian tradition (Genesis 2) has operated according to a theological anthropology that gives priority to the creation of man (Adam) and only secondary dependent status to the creation of woman (Eve). Moreover, in the second biblical creation story (Genesis 3), the blame for original sin has been directed primarily at the woman (Eve), mitigating the role of the man (Adam). This misogynist interpretation of the fall into sin has had devastating consequences for women throughout church history, authorizing the scapegoating of women. The naming of pain in childbirth and subjugation to one’s husband as punishments inflicted upon women as consequences of the fall solidify a social order in which men are expected to dominate women. This interpretation of biblical texts has structured the world to reify the status of women as “the second sex” (Simone de Beauvoir).
Classical interpretations of the meaning of the cross have also been contested in feminist theologies. Particularly offensive are violent images of the atonement, such as Anselm’s satisfaction theory, which employ metaphors that depict God as requiring a bloody sacrifice from Jesus as the Son of God, in order to win salvation. Feminist theologians have protested that this and related interpretations of atonement render God as engaging in “divine child abuse.”8 Such theological formulations not only portray God as a violent father but serve to authorize and perpetuate violence by men against women. Furthermore, feminist theologies challenge violence per se by placing strong emphases on incarnation and resurrection, thus focusing on life and new life for the world.
Feminist theologies have also reimagined Christian gatherings as “women-church” functioning as base communities or “in the round” to emphasize their egalitarian nature.9 Such a church also requires the full inclusion of women in church leadership, entailing the ordination of women as pastors and the eligibility of women as bishops. In order for women to claim their full status as equals with men, they need to caucus and organize their efforts for transforming church structures. The goal of feminist theologies is thereby the full inclusion of all human experience—women and men from all socio-economic classes. The round table is to include all. This is understood as God doing a new thing by the power of the Holy Spirit, the one person of the Trinity commonly represented as feminine throughout Christian tradition.
In feminist theologies, women’s experience serves as an indispensable authority in theological method. This means the epistemology favored in feminist theologies attends more to relationships and communal dimensions in contrast to the subjective individualism characteristic of most modern thought. The suffering and oppression of women embedded in biblical hermeneutics, church history, theological doctrine, and ecclesial structures must be dismantled through critical social analysis of the structures of patriarchy, deconstructing all remnants of the gender binary and reconfiguring theological teachings about God and humanity, salvation and church. Feminist theologians affirm the equal dignity of women and all people and the full participation of women with men in all aspects of the church’s life.
Womanist theologies take as their distinctive point of departure the suffering and oppression of black women. Womanist theologies address the limitation within black liberation theologies when they focus primarily on the experiences of black men and the limitation of feminist theologies when they focus primarily on the experiences of white women. Although subsequent developments in black liberation theologies and feminist theologies have expanded their original frameworks beyond privileging the experiences of black men and white women, womanist theologies insist that the particularity of the experiences of black women remain clearly in focus. Distinctive to the experiences of black women is that the complex character of their suffering and oppression requires multilayered social analysis, especially attending to the interlocking relationships between race, gender, and class. Womanist theologies also have paid increasing attention to the themes of homophobia and ecojustice.
Black women have suffered in unique ways throughout American history, beginning with the conditions of enslavement and then under Jim Crow laws. Black women were especially vulnerable to silencing, whipping, raping, lynching, and other forms of violence. Womanist theologians recollect and build upon the prophetic work of black women who addressed these circumstances in previous generations (Maria Stewart, Sojourner Truth, Anna Cooper). Recovering and honoring the lost voices of enslaved women and the stories of resistance by black women is crucial to the agenda of womanist theologies.
The threefold oppression of black women—through racism, sexism, and classicism—requires precise interpretation of the doctrines of God, theological anthropology, sin, Christology, soteriology, and ecclesiology. Normative concepts of God and humanity must expand to incorporate divine concern for black women as central to God’s identity and must value the essential humanity of black women as those created in God’s image. In reflecting on sin, the historical pattern of silencing and ignoring black women in church and society needs to be overcome by listening and reclaiming their voices. The work of Jesus Christ in Christian theology must not only encompass but also transcend the suffering of black women, so that their agency participates in the deliverance from subjugation and muteness. Womanist theologies emphasize the power of the resurrection to restore the status of black women and bring them into fullness of life.
Womanist theologians question the usage of the surrogacy model to interpret the atonement insofar as it contributes to the ongoing subjugation and exploitation of black women, who themselves have been forced into surrogacy at the hands of white masters and as coerced by black men.10 Stereotypes of black women tend to relegate them to the roles of “mammy,” laborer, or sex object, undermining their inherent worth and dignity. The creative improvisation by black women to deliver their families and black people from harm must be incorporated into God’s salvation story. Womanist theologies uphold sisterhood, song, and mutual solidarity as means through which the Spirit works survival and liberation. The black church has been a haven for the sharing of gifts by black women, although even here their leadership has been marginalized through patriarchal structures. The biblical story of Hagar inspires black women to claim their theological voices to articulate the meaning of the faith and to live it out courageously.
Latina/o and Mujerista Theologies
Latina/o and mujerista theologies are the work of Hispanic theologians in addressing the experiences of suffering and oppression of Latino and Latina people. The origins of Latina/o theologies are closely connected to those of Latin American liberation theology: rejection of economic injustice and advocacy for God’s preferential option for the poor. This theology emerges from the Borderlands regions of America where North America and Latin America geographically intersect. From there it extends to all those places where Hispanic culture is prevalent. Because much of the territory in U.S. Southwest once belonged to Mexico, it is important to stress the indigenous character of Latina/o theology. One particular form of Mexican-American liberation theology is Chicano theology. The cross-cultural interface between Anglo and Hispanic cultures has led some theologians to describe these theologies as mestizo. The term “mestizo” refers to the hybridity of histories, cultures, and peoples dwelling in the Borderlands. Demographic projections in the United States validate the claim that the future of North America is mestizo (Virgilio Elizondo).
As is characteristic of the praxis method of liberation theologies in general, Latina/o theologies employ varied forms of social analysis (economic, racial, and gender-based) to examine the marginalization of Hispanic people in America. Although the majority of Latina/o people in North America are U.S. citizens, the majority Anglo culture functions to relegate Hispanic cultures to the edges of society. This marginalization is intensified by the suppression of the Spanish language in many localities. Because some within this population are migrant workers with undocumented immigration status, the struggle of Latina/o people frequently remains hidden within local communities. In contrast to the standard generalizations, Latina/o theologies are ecumenically diverse, encompassing not only Roman Catholic but a range of Protestant traditions.
The history of the Americas is marked by conquest of the indigenous people by the European conquistadors, whose dominance was only occasionally challenged by Christian leaders such as Bartolomé de las Casas. Latina/o theologies criticize the universalizing and colonizing tendencies of the hegemonic academic paradigm in favor of postcolonial approaches that take seriously popular religious expressions for theological reflection (for example, piety associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe). Latina/o theologians value collaboration, working together on shared projects as teología en conjunto, theology as teamwork. The Bible provides the primary source of authority for Latina/o theologies, particularly the trajectories within scripture that emphasize God’s liberation of slaves (e.g., from bondage in Egypt), the prophetic insistence on justice for the marginalized, deliverance from exile, and Jesus Christ as liberator of the poor. There is increasing attention to the ecological consequences of human harm against God’s creation, such as experienced at the U.S.-Mexico border. Communal Bible interpretation as practiced in comunidades eclesiales de base (“Christian communities of the laity”) enlivens ecclesial existence through the study of Scripture for the purpose of critical reflection on God’s Word with the intent of social justice.
The struggle to overcome poverty and attain human dignity orients Latina/o theologies toward advocacy in transforming structural injustice. This entails addressing concrete expressions of idolatry and sin in Hispanic culture in relation to the problems of domestic violence, homophobia, and machismo. Mujerista theologies originated specifically from the experience of Hispanic women. Major themes of mujerista theologies include God’s solidarity with the experience of Latinas, the empowerment of women in family and society, theological anthropology that affirms the inherent dignity of Latinas, experiencing the divine through God’s Word, and the liberating power of ritual. Because of their social location in a changing society, Latina/o and mujerista theologies offer great promise for the future of theological reflection in the Americas.
Native American Liberation Theologies
Native American (or American Indian) liberation theologies emerge from the tragic encounter between spiritual traditions of indigenous people in North America and the Christian traditions brought by the settler colonizers who came to occupy their native lands. The invasion of the indigenous tribes by European conquerors and U.S. military forces needs to be acknowledged as an American genocide according to all five defining characteristics: 1) transformation of identity, 2) repression, 3) expulsion, 4) prevention of reproduction, and 5) extermination. The massive and violent displacement from the land needs to be understood not as a transfer of property but as forced removal and alienation from an entire way of life, including religious beliefs and practices closely tied to creation. Indigenous people, all belonging to sovereign tribal nations—with many recognized by the United States—continue to experience the suffering and oppression related to this displacement and alienation.
Indigenous people integrated spirituality into every aspect of their cultures. While the specific beliefs and rituals varied among tribes, living in harmony and balance with the whole creation is central to Native American religion. Every aspect of the natural world—sun, earth, mountain, water, sky, and all creatures—is considered sacred. The four directions of the compass, represented by the specific colors of the medicine wheel (or sacred hoop), locate human beings not only spatially but temporally (the four seasons), and give orientation to the life cycle: birth, youth, elder, and death. Elders and infants are treated with special honor and respect. Ceremonial plants include tobacco, sweet grass, sage, and cedar. All animals are sacred, with particular attention often given to buffalo, eagle, bear, and wolf. While sacred rituals differ among tribes and regions, sweat lodges, vision quests, and the sun dance are among the most well known. All living things exist as relatives one to another (mitakuye oyasin: “all are related” in Lakota language).
With the conquest and displacement, the settler colonizers brought Christian mission to the Native American people. While some of the efforts of missionaries took into consideration indigenous spirituality, the predominant tendency aimed to superimpose Christian beliefs and practices upon the Native American people. The failure to listen to and respect indigenous ways has resulted in prophetic critique of the modern West by Native American theologians. One reprehensible example was the treatment of Native American children in off-reservation Christian boarding schools, whose purpose was to assimilate native people into modern Western society by eradicating all that is native. Standard methods included separation from families, replacing given names with Christian names, prohibition of speaking native languages, haircuts, and strict discipline to “civilize” and “Christianize.” Subsequent investigations have documented many cases of emotional, sexual, and physical abuse at Christian boarding schools. In spite of these offenses, many Native American people adapted to Christianity over the centuries and became members of Christian churches. Native American liberation theologies continue to analyze and criticize this catastrophic history. Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery is a significant opportunity in truth and reconciliation efforts.
Native American liberation theologies seek to creatively integrate indigenous worldviews and cosmogonies with elements of Christian theology that take native traditions seriously, including syncretistic or “dual religious systems.”11 Central to this effort is the recovery of teaching about creation that can enrich Christian doctrine with the more robust Native American convictions about the spiritual interdependence of all things. This is a substantial contribution from Native American spirituality to the cause of ecojustice. Several Native American theologians propose thinking about the life of pre-genocide indigenous people in terms of God’s “original covenant” or “first testament” that precedes the Old and New Testaments of the Christian canon as an essential presupposition for all Christian theologizing among Native Americans. Future efforts by Native American theologians will continue to validate indigenous convictions by imaginatively employing them to contextualize Christian teachings, a process that should have characterized the encounter of Christianity with Native American cultures from the beginning.
Evidence of the doctrine of sin is manifest in the historical decimation of indigenous people, especially through the dislocation and forced exile from native lands that interrupted their spiritual relationship to the land. Particularly troubling to Native American theologians is the unquestioned legitimation of violence in the conquest narratives of Israel against the Canaanites.12 The authority of these texts is negated by American Indian experiences of conquest. Because of the harm done in the name of Jesus Christ to indigenous people, Christology is an especially neuralgic point in Native American liberation theologies. One imaginative construal draws upon the indigenous vision quest tradition to interpret the life and work of Jesus Christ according to four movements: wilderness, mountain, garden, and cross.13 Salvation involves the restoration of original blessing among creation and all creatures. The communal character of Native American life has much to enrich Christian understanding of community as the body of Christ. Vivid awareness of the living presence of God as Great Spirit can renew Christian appreciation for the work of the Holy Spirit. The method of Native American liberation theologies views the spiritualties and cultures, the suffering and oppression of indigenous peoples as requisite sources for reflection.
LGBTQ+ Liberation Theologies
LGBTQ+ liberation theologies originate from the experiences of suffering and oppression by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other persons not conforming to the established conventions of society regarding sexual orientation or gender designation. Gay and lesbian liberation theologies challenge the lack of full inclusion of persons with same-gender sexual attraction in the church and their marginalization in society. Bisexual liberation theologies address the issues facing persons sexually attracted to both women and men, transgender liberation theologies relate to the experiences of those whose gender identity does not correspond to that of their sex at birth, and intersex liberation theologies engage the experiences of those who identify with the sex opposite to that assigned to them in childhood. Still more expansive, queer liberation theologies argue that the prevailing sexual norms oppress all people, not only those on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Building on historical and philosophical work of scholars in cognate disciplines (Michel Foucault, John Boswell, Judith Butler), queer theory examines, analyzes, and criticizes the paradigm and processes by which human sexuality and gender are socially constructed. Queer theorists hold that human sexual identity is fluid and more unstable than assumed in conventional interpretations that categorize persons into one of two kinds, male or female.
The earliest research by LGBTQ+ liberation theologies explored the experiences of gay men and lesbian women seeking equality in the church and its advocacy for justice. The groundbreaking work by gay white men has been both valued and subsequently criticized for unexamined assumptions about white male hegemony. LGBTQ+ liberation theologians contest the normativity of biblical texts condemning same-gender sexual orientation and expression, and this has made the reinterpretation of the authority of Scripture on behalf of gay and lesbian liberation central to their efforts.14 This included challenging the traditional interpretation of key passages (Gen. 19:1–29; Lev. 18:22, 20:13; Jud. 19:10–30; Rom. 1:26–27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10) by circumscribing the meaning of these texts according to the historical context of the ancient world which predates all contemporary understanding of same-gender sexual orientation.
Of central concern to all LGBTQ+ liberation theologies is the understanding of theological anthropology within the doctrine of creation. The conviction that in the beginning God created human beings exclusively in two kinds, male and female (Gen. 1:26–27), is contradicted by the experiences of LGBTQ+ persons and fails to reckon with the ontogeny of particular individuals. In contrast to the essentialism of the biblical creation stories which limits gender to male or female, scientific research indicates that gender should be understood as running along a continuum from cisgendered through transgendered, even as sexual orientation runs along a continuum from heterosexual through homosexual. The revision of traditional Christian convictions about gender and human sexuality is complicated by the citation of the Genesis text by Jesus (Matt. 19:4). One of the most significant challenges facing LGBTQ+ liberation theologies involves revising the natural law tradition regarding the creation of human beings according to a male-female binary. This would entail deeming sexual diversity as part of God’s good creation and accepting as authoritative for natural law scientific findings about the normalcy of sexual variations and the complexity of sexual ontogeny.
LGBTQ+ liberation theologians defend the inherent worth and dignity of LGBTQ+ persons as those created in the image of God and inheritors of God’s grace as the beloved of Jesus Christ. For LGBTQ+ liberation theologies, structural sin involves social effects such as homophobia, heterosexism, transphobia, compulsory heterosexuality, subjection to the standards of sexual majorities, defamation, deprivation of civil rights, persecution, and murder. There is extensive documentation of cases where Christians have excluded and scapegoated LGBTQ+ persons, making it challenging for the LGBTQ+ community to join or associate with the church. Consistent with the Christology of other liberation theologies, Jesus Christ is the defender of the marginalized and liberator of the oppressed, who extends radical hospitality to the excluded. Whereas black liberation theologies depict Jesus as black and Native American liberation theologies portray Jesus as red, some LGBTQ+ liberation theologians have identified Jesus as queer.15 Salvation in many LGBTQ+ liberation theologies would include their radical welcome and full participation in life together as Christian community.
Ecojustice theologies advocate for the well-being of earth’s biosphere against multiple threats to the ecological sustainability of the planet caused by human interventions that erode and destroy the very conditions that make life possible. Because of the intricate interrelatedness of all things, living and inorganic, in a single ecological web of being, excesses on the part of humanity have consequences for all of creation. Ecojustice theologians criticize the intrinsic connections between the global economic system that commodifies every element within creation and assesses quality of life exclusively according to economic measures (such as gross domestic product) without calculating the real costs—not only environmental but also economic—based on ecological factors. Ecojustice theologies analyze the large-scale effects of environmental degradation by referencing how micro- and macro-violations to the ecosphere contribute to the effacing of the local and the whole. Ecojustice theologians advocate alternative approaches to economic development, structural changes to protect the environment through legislation, and lifestyle changes at the grassroots. Every daily decision is intrinsically related to ecological impacts: what one eats, how one uses water, one’s chosen means of transportation, one’s daily work, and what one buys. Ecojustice has implications for every arena of life as humans interact with, consume, and dispose of created matter.
Understanding God’s creation of the universe, including the earth, requires that ecojustice theologies rely on knowledge of the geological and evolutionary processes studied in the physical and life sciences. The Anthropocene epoch is but a tiny moment in the expanse of geological time; however, the enormous destructive impact of the human on the earth’s ecosystems is disturbingly measurable. Ecojustice theologies interpret the doctrine of creation with special regard to the findings of astronomy, evolutionary biology, ecology, and environmental studies. Environmental studies demonstrate how human beings are expanding their negative impacts on the ecosystem, putting at risk not only the survival of other life forms but the viability of all life on the planet. Natural resources have been expropriated for human use in neglect of the harmful effects on microorganisms, plants, animals, and the earth itself by exceeding the limits of sustainability. Waste matter generated by humans, especially excessive carbon emissions, threatens the collapse of the entire ecosystem. This means ecojustice theologies insist on the shift from an anthropocentric (human centered) to an eco-centric paradigm
For ecojustice theologies, sin is evidenced in an I-centeredness—as individuals, as nations, and as a species—that fosters worldviews and behaviors that degrade earth’s water, soil, air, plant, and animal systems. All aspects of contemporary life, including those that enhance human comfort and convenience, are implicated in the degradation of the environment, including urban sprawl, privatized transportation, agriculture and animal husbandry practices, food and product packaging, and pharmaceutical use. Pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and other chemicals contribute to soil, water, and air contamination, damaging varied life niches in the ecosystem. The burning of fossil fuels (especially oil and coal) elevates carbon dioxide to irreversible levels, depleting the protective ozone layer and leading to the destructive effects of global warming. Oceans and waterways suffer from unprecedented pollution. Natural materials (forests, oil, topsoil, minerals) are being depleted. Species (particularly in rain forests and oceans) are in process of being extinguished at unprecedented rates. Genetic engineering of plants and animals threatens to introduce unforeseen, deleterious effects to the gene pool. Landfills overflow with non-biodegradable and non-renewable materials, as well as nuclear and other toxic wastes, that threaten long-term environmental harm. Environmental racism means that the negative effects of ecological destruction are borne disproportionately by people of color. Because of the complexity and long-term consequences of structural sin in relation to the ecological crisis, the culture of consumerism itself must be transformed.
Salvation according to ecojustice theologies entails living responsibly and sustainably. This includes the restoration of ecosystems eroded by human misbehavior, and a return to ecological balance, dynamic equilibrium among the community of organisms, and sustainability for all life forms. Changing the behavior of human beings is crucial for addressing this ecological crisis, especially the misinterpretation of the biblical command to “subdue” and “have dominion” over the earth (Gen. 1:28), which has been used to justify human exploitation of creation. The biblical understanding of shalom entails life-giving relationships between God, humans, all creatures, and the earth. “Mending the earth” (tikkun olam) belongs to the central responsibilities of human beings as stewards of creation by learning to live in accordance with the goodness of natural processes. The work of Christ, who is the one through whom all things were created and who reconciles the entire cosmos to God (Col. 1:15–20), takes on universal dimensions in ecojustice theologies.
The Bible is filled with language of praise and thanksgiving for the goodness of creation; the biblical narrative, including the teachings of Jesus, is replete with natural imagery and assumes the embeddedness of human beings within the web of life. Native American liberation theologies and indigenous apprehensions of humans living in harmony with creation can contribute fruitfully to ecojustice theologies, as can the witness of key figures in church history (Isaac the Syrian, Francis and Clare of Assisi, Thomas Berry). The work of the Holy Spirit serves a constructive role in the reformulation of doctrine by ecojustice theologians.
Solidarity with Global Liberation Theologies
At the end of the 20th century, critics declared the demise of liberation theologies. Such claims, however, vastly underestimated the vitality of liberation theologies and how these theologies have changed the global shape of theology. Within Latin America, for example, the perspective of liberation theology continues to enliven theological discourse and generate liberating praxis. In many other oppressive contexts across the globe, liberation theologies have catalyzed the emergence of innovative contextual theologies to advocate for structural justice: anti-apartheid theology in South Africa and Namibia, Minjung theology in Korea, Dalit theology in India, and Palestinian liberation theology.16
In Europe and North America, liberation theologies have transformed the ordinary discourse of systematic theology in dramatic ways. Not only progressive Protestant, but also Evangelical Protestant and Roman Catholic theologians have engaged with and incorporated vital features of liberation theologies into their own perspectives, for example, Jürgen Moltmann, Dorothee Soelle, and Johannes Baptist Metz in Germany. Moreover, liberation theologies have assisted in reclaiming latent themes in the theological tradition, such as the theology of the cross. The hybridity of a liberation theologies crosses “national and ethnic frontiers” to represent “God’s presence in a human that goes to such low depths into depravity as to encompass the whole of creation.”17 For this enduring project, liberation theologians continue to contribute their best creative energy.
Review of the Literature
Liberation theologies find their origins in the writings of Latin American and black liberation theologians. Seminal writings by Latin American liberation theologians include those of Gustavo Gutiérrez, Leonardo Boff, José Miguez Bonino, Ignatío Ellacuria, and Jon Sobrino.18 James H. Cone has authored foundational texts of black liberation theology, including a study comparing the cross of Jesus to the lynching tree used to intimidate and murder thousands of black Americans.19 Other original contributors include Albert B. Cleage Jr., J. Deotis Roberts, and Gayraud S. Wilmore.20 See also the creative treatments by Dwight N. Hopkins, Willie James Jennings, James H. Evans, and Steven J. Ray Jr.21 Original works in womanist theology were authored by Jacquelyn Grant, Katie Cannon, and S. Delores Williams, with other imaginative treatments by Monica A. Coleman, Diana L. Hayes, and Nyasha Junior.22 Pamela R. Lightsey has contributed an important work at the interface between womanist and queer liberation theologies.23
The range of literature in feminist theology is expansive. Foundational texts include those by Mary Daly, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Elisabeth Schűssler Fiorenza, and Letty M. Russell.24 Key texts related to the doctrine of God are by Catherine Mowry LaCugna and Elizabeth A. Johnson.25 Influential treatments of feminist biblical interpretation include those by Phyllis Trible, Elisabeth Schűssler Fiorenza, and Barbara E. Reid.26 An anthology that brings together women’s perspectives across the globe has been edited by Elizabeth A. Johnson.27
In addition to the groundbreaking works in Latina/o and mujerista theologies of Virgilio Elizondo and Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, important collections of essays have been edited by Arturo J. Bañuelas and another by Alvin Padilla, Roberto Goizueta, and Eldin Villafañe.28 Other constructive contributions have been authored by David A. Sánchez and Andrés G. Guerrero.29
A critical introduction to the history of genocide against Native American people has been written by Roxanna Dunbar-Ortiz.30 Among the significant Native American theologians are Vine Deloria Jr., George E. Tinker, Stephen Charleston, and Randy Woodley.31 Important anthologies have been edited by James Treat; Steven Charleston and Elaine A. Robinson; and Clara Sue Kidwell, Homer Noley, and George E. Tinker.32
Several authors have made major contributions to LGBTQ+ theologies, including Carter Heyward, Richard Cleaver, Elizabeth Stuart, Pamela R. Lightsey, Marcella Althaus-Reid, and Rebecca M. M. Voelkel.33 An introduction to heterosexism has been written by Patricia Beattie Jung and Ralph F. Smith, a general introduction to queer theory authored by Annamarie Jagose, and a relevant anthology on sexuality in Christianity edited by Margaret D. Kamitsuka.34
Lynn White Jr. argued already in 1967 that the historical roots of the ecological crisis are related to the origins of Christianity.35 Early and foundational scholars in the arena of ecojustice are John B. Cobb Jr., Herman E. Daly, Rosemary Radford Ruether, and Sallie McFague.36 A vast literature is now available including works by Bill McKibben, Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda, Larry L. Rasmussen, James Martin-Schramm, and Lisa E. Dahill.37
Links to Digital Materials
- “Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1938,” Digital Collections, Library of Congress.
- “U.S. Hispanic Theology Resources,” Boston College Libraries.
- Lutherans Restoring Creation (ecojustice resources).
- “African American Literature and Resources,” School of Library and Information Sciences, North Carolina Central University (bibliographies).
- “Resources: Queer Theology Booklist,” Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality (bibliography).
- “Feminist Theology 101,” Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (feminist theologies resources).
- Althaus-Reid, Marcella. The Queer God. London: Routledge, 2003.
- Cannon, Katie. Black Womanist Ethics. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2006.
- Charleston, Steven. The Four Vision Quests of Jesus. New York: Morehouse, 2015.
- Cleaver, Richard. Know My Name: A Gay Liberation Theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1995.
- Cobb, John B., Jr. Sustainability: Economics, Ecology, and Justice. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2007.
- Cone, James H. A Black Theology of Liberation. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2010.
- Cone, James H., and Gayraud S. Wilmore, eds. Black Theology: A Documentary History. Vols. 1 and 2. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1993/1992.
- Daly, Mary. Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation. Boston: Beacon, 1995.
- Deloria, Vine, Jr. God Is Red: A Native View of Religion. Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 2003.
- Elizondo, Virgilio. The Galilean Journey: The Mexican-American Promise. Translated by Eva Fleischner. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2005.
- Fiorenza, Elizabeth Schűssler. In Memory of Her: A Feminist Reconstruction of Theological Origins. New York: Crossroad, 1994.
- Grant, Jacquelyn. White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989.
- Gutiérrez, Gustavo. A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation. Translated by Caridad Inda and Matthew J. O’Connell. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1988.
- Johnson, Elizabeth A., ed. The Strength of Her Witness: Jesus Christ in the Global Witness of Women. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2016.
- Jung, Patricia Beattie, and Ralph F. Smith. Heterosexism: An Ethical Challenge. Albany: State University of New York, 1993.
- Kamitsuka, Margaret D., ed. The Embrace of Eros: Bodies, Desires, and Sexuality in Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010.
- McFague, Sallie. The Body of God: An Ecological Theology. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1993.
- Moe-Lobeda, Cynthia D. Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2013.
- Isasi-Diaz, Ada Maria. Mujerista Theology: A Theology for the Twenty-First Century. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996.
- Padilla, Alvin, Roberto Goizueta, and Eldin Villafañe, eds. Hispanic Christian Thought at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century. Nashville: Abingdon, 2005.
- Rasmussen, Larry L. Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key. New York: Oxford, 2013.
- Radford Ruether, Rosemary. Women and Redemption: A Theological History. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012.
- Russell, Letty M. Church in the Round: Feminist Interpretation of the Church. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993.
- Tinker, George E. American Indian Liberation: A Theology of Sovereignty. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2008.
- Williams, Delores S. Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2013.
1. Gayraud S. Wilmore and James H. Cone, eds., Black Theology: A Documentary History, 1966–1979 (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1979), 67–102.
2. Sergio Torres and John Eagleson, eds., Theology in the Americas (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1976).
3. See Torres and Eagleson, eds., Theology in the Americas, 177–191, 353–356, and 361–376.
4. Cornel West, Caridad Guidote, and Margaret Coakley, eds., Theology in the Americas II. Conference Papers (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1982).
5. Sergio Torres and John Eagleson, eds., The Challenge of Basic Christian Communities, trans. John Drury (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1981).
6. Dennis P. McCann, Christian Realism and Liberation Theology: Practical Theologies in Creative Conflict (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1981).
7. “Instruction on Certain Aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation,’” August 6, 1984, and “Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation,” March 22, 1986.
8. Joanne Carlson Brown and Rebecca Parker, “For God So Loved the World,” in Christianity, Patriarchy, and Abuse: A Feminist Critique, ed. Joanne Carlson Brown and Carole Bohn (New York: Pilgrim, 1989), 1–30.
9. Rosemary Radford Ruether, Women-Church: Theology and Practice of Feminist Liturgical Communities (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2001); and Letty M. Russell, Church in the Round: Feminist Interpretation of Church (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993).
10. Delores Williams, “Black Women’s Surrogacy Experience and the Christian Notion of Redemption,” in The Strength of Her Witness: Jesus Christ in the Global Voices of Women, ed. Elizabeth A. Johnson (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2016), 199–214.
11. Robert J. Schreiter, Constructing Local Theologies (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2015).
12. Robert Allen Warrior, “Canaanites, Cowboys, and Indians: Deliverance, Conquest, and Liberation Theology Today,” in Native and Christian: Indigenous Voices on Religious Identity in the United States and Canada, ed. James Treat (New York: Routledge, 1996), 93–104.
13. Stephen Charleston, The Four Vision Quests of Jesus (New York: Morehouse, 2015).
14. Martti Nissinen, Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004).
15. Marcella Althaus- Reid, The Queer God (London: Routledge, 2003).
16. John W. DeGruchy and Charles Villa-Vicencio, eds., Apartheid Is a Heresy (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1983); Commission on Theological Concerns of the Christian Conference of Asia, ed., Minjung Theology: People as the Subjects of History (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1983); Sathianathan Clarke, Dalits and Christianity: Subaltern Religion and Liberation Theology (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998); and Naim Stifan Ateek, Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1989).
17. Vitor Westhelle, After Heresy: Colonial Practices and Post-Colonial Theologies (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2010), 157.
18. Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation, trans. Caridad Inda and Matthew J. O’Connell (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1988); Leonardo Boff, Jesus Christ Liberator, trans. Patrick Hughes (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1978); José Míguez Bonino, Doing Theology in a Revolutionary Situation, ed. William H. Lazareth (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1975); and Ignatio Ellacuría and Jon Sobrino, eds., Mysterium Liberationis: Fundamental Concepts of Liberation Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1993).
19. James H. Cone, Black Theology and Black Power (New York: Harper and Row, 1969); James H. Cone, God of the Oppressed (New York: Seabury, 1975); James H. Cone, Martin and Malcolm and America: A Dream or a Nightmare (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1991); and James H. Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2011).
20. Albert B. Cleage Jr., The Black Messiah: The Religious Roots of Black Power (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1968); J. Deotis Roberts, Liberation and Reconciliation: A Black Theology (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971); and Gayraud S. Wilmore, Black Religion and Black Radicalism: An Interpretation of the Religious History of African Americans (Garden City, NY: Anchor/Doubleday, 1973).
21. Dwight N. Hopkins, Down, Up, and Over: Slave Religion and Black Theology (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2000); Dwight N. Hopkins, Being Human: Race, Culture, and Religion (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005); Willie James Jennings, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (New Haven, CT: Yale, 2010); and James H. Evans and Steven J. Ray Jr., We Have Been Believers: An African American Systematic Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2012).
22. Jacquelyn Grant, White Women’s Christ and Black Women’s Jesus: Feminist Christology and Womanist Response, (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989); Katie Cannon, Katie’s Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community (New York: Continuum, 1995); Delores S. Williams, Sisters in the Wilderness: The Challenge of Womanist God-Talk (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2013); Monica A. Coleman, Making a Way Out of No Way: A Womanist Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008); Diana L. Hayes, Standing in the Shoes My Mother Made: A Womanist Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2011); and Nyasha Junior, An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2015).
23. Pamela R. Lightsey, Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2015).
24. Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation (Boston: Beacon, 1995); Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology (Boston: Beacon, 1983); Elizabeth Schűssler Fiorenza, In Memory of Her: A Feminist Reconstruction of Theological Origins, (New York: Crossroad, 1994); and Letty M. Russell, Human Liberation in Feminist Perspective: A Theology (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1974).
25. Catherine Mowry LaCugna, God for Us: The Trinity and the Christian Life (New York: HarperCollins, 1991); and Elizabeth A. Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Discourse (New York: Crossroad, 1992).
26. Phyllis Trible, Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984); Elisabeth Schűssler Fiorenza, But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation (Boston: Beacon, 1992); and Barbara E. Reid, Wisdom’s Feast: An Invitation to Feminist Interpretation of the Scriptures (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016).
27. Elizabeth A. Johnson, ed., The Strength of Her Witness: Jesus Christ in the Global Voices of Women (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2016).
28. Virgilio Elizondo, The Galilean Journey: The Mexican-American Promise, trans. Eva Fleischner (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2005); Virgilio Elizondo, The Future Is Mestizo: Life Where Cultures Meet (New York: Crossroad, 1992); Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, Mujerista Theology: A Theology for the Twenty-First Century (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1996); Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz and Eduardo Mendieta, eds., Decolonizing Epistemologies: Latina/o Theology and Philosophy (New York: Fordham University, 2011); Arturo J. Bañuelas, Mestizo Christianity: Theology from the Latin Perspective (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1995); and Alvin Padilla, Roberto Goizueta, and Eldin Villafañe, eds., Hispanic Christian Thought at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century (Nashville: Abingdon, 2005).
29. David A. Sánchez, From Patmos to the Barrio: Subverting Imperial Myths (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008); and Andrés G. Guerrero, A Chicano Theology (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2008).
30. Roxanna Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Boston: Beacon, 2014).
31. Vine Deloria Jr., God Is Red: A Native View of Religion (Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 2003); George E. Tinker, American Indian Liberation: A Theology of Sovereignty (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2008); George E. Tinker, Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2004); Steven Charleston, The Four Vision Quests of Jesus (New York: Morehouse, 2015); and Randy S. Woodley, Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012).
32. James Treat, ed., Native and Christian: Indigenous Voices on Religious Identity in the United States and Canada (New York: Routledge, 1996); Steven Charleston and Elaine A. Robinson, eds., Coming Full Circle: Constructing Native Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015); and Clara Sue Kidwell, Homer Noley, and George E. Tinker, eds., A Native American Theology (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2001).
33. Carter Heyward, Speaking of Christ: A Lesbian Voice, ed. Ellen C. Davis (New York: Pilgrim, 1989); Richard Cleaver, Know My Name: A Gay Liberation Theology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1995); Elizabeth Stuart, Gay and Lesbian Theologies: Repetitions with a Critical Difference (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2003); Pamela R. Lightsey, Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2015); Marcella Althaus-Reid, Indecent Theology (New York: Routledge, 2000); Marcella Althaus-Reid, The Queer God (London: Routledge, 2003); and Rebecca M. M. Voelkel, Carnal Knowledge of God: Embodied Love and the Movement for Justice (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2017).
34. Patricia Beattie Jung and Ralph F. Smith, Heterosexism: An Ethical Challenge (Albany: State University of New York, 1993); Annamarie Jagose, Queer Theory: An Introduction (New York: New York University Press, 1997); and Margaret D. Kamitsuka, ed., The Embrace of Eros: Bodies, Desires, and Sexuality in Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010).
35. Lynn White Jr., “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis,” Science 155 (March 10, 1967): 1203–1207.
36. John B. Cobb Jr., Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology (Beverly Hills, CA: Bruce and Glencoe, 1972); John B. Cobb Jr., Sustainability: Economics, Ecology, and Justice (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2007); Herman E. Daly and John B. Cobb Jr., For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future (Boston: Beacon, 1994); Rosemary Radford Ruether, Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1992); Sallie McFague, The Body of God: An Ecological Theology (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1993); and Sallie McFague, A New Climate for Theology: God, the World, and Global Warming (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008).
37. Bill McKibben, The End of Nature (New York: Random House, 2006); Bill McKibben, Earth: Making a Life on a Tough Planet (New York: Henry Holt, 2010); Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda, Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2013); Larry L. Rasmussen, Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key (New York: Oxford, 2015); James Martin-Schramm, Climate Justice: Ethics, Energy, and Public Policy (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010); and Lisa E. Dahill and James Martin-Schramm, eds., Eco-Reformation: Grace and Hope for a Planet in Peril (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2016).