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Losing My Religion for Lent: Niebuhr and Gutiérrez on Theology as Self-Critique

Christopher Simpson
University of Iowa

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Abstract

In his book, Suspicion and Faith, Christian philosopher Merold Westphal presents the project of using the hermeneutics of suspicion— often used against Christianity by its enemies—as a kind of Lenten exercise for Christians to purify themselves. This article applies Merold Westphal’s philosophical terminology to the thought of twentieth-century theologians Reinhold Niebuhr (an American Protestant and the father of “Christian Realism”) and Gustavo Gutiérrez (a South American Catholic and the father of “Liberation Theology”). Each of these theologians present “suspicious interpretations” of particular manifestations of the Christian faith in service of the Christian faith. This article outlines both their criticisms of the church insofar as it is complicit with social injustice (using Westphal’s organizing categories) and their suggestions for “strategies of resistance.”

 
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Volume 22 Issue 2

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VOLUME 22, No. 2
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