A few months ago, after a visit to Latin America, an American theologian reported that a number of professors at a well-known evangelical seminary there had adopted the “theology of liberation.” He might well have added that by default on the part of evangelical theology the whole church in this part of the world is fertile soil for any theology attempting to take life in a revolutionary situation seriously.

To understand the problem one must first realize that the Latin American church is a church without theology. To be sure, a theology is always implicit in the communication of the Gospel, even on the most elementary level. Furthermore, it must not be assumed that the only theology deserving of the name is speculative theology. In stating that the Church in Latin America is a church without theology, I am neither denying the existence of an “implicit theology” nor lamenting the absence of speculative theology. The statement has meaning only within a deeper analysis of the function of theology in the life and mission of the Church. It points to a failure of the Church to think on the significance of God’s revelation here and now, and on its implications for the Christian mission in a concrete situation. To be more exact, we might say that the Church in Latin America is a church without theological reflection of its own.

A quick look at the curriculum in the majority of seminaries and Bible schools, at the preaching and the liturgy in the churches, and at the literature in Christian bookstores throughout Latin America would suffice to show that our “theological dependence” is just as real and as serious as the economic dependence of the countries of the Third World.

This absence of theological reflection is seen in every aspect ...

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