May 15: Raúl Zegarra, “Liberation Theology and Pentecostalism”

Monday, May 15, 12:00-1:15pm (Swift 208)
Raúl Zegarra, PhD student in Theology
“‘The Latin American Church Opted for the Poor and the Poor Opted for Pentecostalism’: A Re-Assessment”

Abstract: In this paper I study comparatively the emergence and development of Pentecostalism and liberation theology in Latin America. My interest is to help fill the gap in current research, for many studies exist on Pentecostalism and liberation theology, but very few study both phenomena in relation to each other. Moreover, there is no investigation that compares both movements within the framework of secularization theories, which is the aim of this presentation.

The main question of the paper is why and how these two movements massively expanded in Latin America almost at the same time despite the fact of their quite different orientations. Moreover, given the consistent growth of Pentecostalism and what seems to be the stagnation of the liberation theology movement, I would like to provide a hypothesis to both explain the reasons of these different outcomes and also suggest some clues regarding how the future may look for both movements.

The paper proceeds, first, by offering some general theoretical background in order to understand both movements. My goal in this section is to show that liberation theology and Pentecostalism are better understood in the context of the general process of secularization, in its particular Latin American version. Second, I discuss both movements directly paying attention to their emergence, major developments, and highlighting their main differences and commonalities. Finally, after adding some nuances coming from more recent studies, I go back to the issue of secularization to suggest that these movements show us two different but potentially complementary forms of re-sacralization of both the person and society. I maintain that both movements can learn from each other and find fruitful paths of collaboration that can renew the face of Latin America and help the poor to find both spiritual and social-political transformation.

Lunch will be provided. Please email for more information. Copies of the paper are also available but need not be read in advance.

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