Is a Pentecostal Liberation Theology Possible?

by Luis Aranguiz Kahn. Part 2 of 4. Read the whole article as a PDF here.

In Latin America, there have been some developments on Eco theology that come from other traditions. I cannot speak theologically from Latin America without mentioning one of the main Latin American theological frames, Liberation Theology.[1] In a Pentecostal view, we could say that Pentecostals were worried about “spiritual issues” while liberationists were worried about “worldly issues”.

However, I would like to go beyond this distinction because it is not that liberationist Christians were not worried about spiritual issues but that they understood spirituality in other terms. And it is not that Pentecostals were not interested in worldly issues, but that they understood worldliness in other terms. I would like to take two concepts from liberation theology.

The first comes from the hand of Leonardo Boff; in his book Ecología: Grito de la tierra, grito de los pobres[2], the Brazilian theologian develops a critical analysis of technological human progress. In his view, modern civilization is oriented by an anthropocentric (then androcentric) concept that divides human being and cosmos, and therefore, technological progress concludes as domination over nature. This can be seen clearly in the various forms of natural exploitation in the region, especially those regarding mining, water and forests.[3] The call of Boff is to rethink our cosmology, so we can better savor the greatness and glory of God in his creation.

The second concept that is important to consider is political holiness, taken from the Spanish theologian Jon Sobrino.[4] According to his way of thinking, liberation is not only a practice, but also spirituality. In his context, this utterance is relevant, especially considering the idea that spirituality was not related to material reality, and therefore, relegated to second place. Against this notion, Sobrino claims that holiness calls believers to the political field as agents of the Kingdom of God and its justice over the oppressed.

Although this can be applied mainly for the poor, Sobrino’s point of view can also be applied to ecology. Then, we can speak about a sort of political ecological holiness that looks toward the Kingdom of God inside a cosmic framework that includes nature.

This concept of spirituality, regarded not only as something far from reality, but as part of it, opens a new way to think on Pentecostal spirituality from a Latin-American perspective. Even though Pentecostals usually don’t see the political factor in their thinking, the fact is that there is one. So, if we try to establish a dialogue between the Pentecostal beginning experience plus its strong moral implicit theology, and the insight of political holiness plus the notion of a sacred creation, we could glimpse a Pentecostalism that is capable of increasing its moral strength, renewing its origins and finding partnership with ecological matters.

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LUIS ARÁNGUIZ KAHN holds a degree in Spanish Literature and a minor in theology from the Catholic University of Chile, and is currently completing a master’s degree in International Studies at the University of Santiago, Chile. He has worked academically in texts and lectures on literature and religion, evangelical analysis of political discourse in Chile and my master’s thesis will be in the general field of evangelicals and international politics. Luis comes from a family of traditional Chilean Pentecostalism and was a university leader at a Pentecostal youth group and a preacher at his local congregation. He is the editor of Pensamiento Pentecostal.


[1]In a few words, it is necessary to say that in the Latin-American context these two groups have been mainly opposed to each other. During the XX century, Pentecostalism has been mainly politically conservative; meanwhile liberationist Christians has been always linked to the left. This political difference is relevant considering that this has had concrete results in the reality of Latin-American countries.

[2] Boff, L. (1996). Ecología: grito de la tierra, grito de los pobres. Madrid: Trotta.

[3] Kamilia Lahrichi, “Chile’s Pollution Grows in Scramble to Meet China’s Copper Demand,” China Dialogue, August 28, 2014. Retrieved from https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/ en/7262-Chile-s-pollution-grows-in-scramble-to-meet-China-s-copper-demand “Mining and Logging Companies ‘leaving all of Chile without water,’” The Guardian, April 24, 2013 https:// http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/apr/24/mining-logging-chile-without-water

[4] Sobrino, J. (1985). Liberación con Espíritu. Santander: Sal Terrae.

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