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A fair analysis of liberation theology (see F&r L•1) reveals at once the complexity of the issues with which it deals, the sincerity of many of its proponents, and the inherent weaknesses of its ap- proach. In the article which follows, Barbara Nauer concerns herself with the popular movements and conceptions which spring, in part, from that same liberation theology. In a presentation which surveys both the main lines of liberationist thought and the practical application of social gospel Christianity, the author draws important connections between the two, and shows how the image of God becomes distorted in each. The result, she suggests, is the raising of idols in the Temple of the Lord.

In our time a great error whIch does much harm to the church, and indirectly to western civilization as a whole, is implicit in liberation theology and the quasi-religious life style which it promotes, social Gospel Christianity. Together these developments represent the incipi- ent triumph, inside the mainline churches and in the minds and hearts of vast numbers of the faithful, of unChristian beliefs concerning the nature of man, beliefs stemming specifically from the theories of Marx, Freud and Darwin.

The aim of this article is fairly modest. Proceeding in stages, I would argue that countless modern Christians, virtually without realizing it, have fallen into the ancient sin of idolatry. It shall be further argued that the infidelity of such Christians involves their worship of two false images of God, the Jesuses of the title, which fantasms have by now virtually supplanted the true God of revelation in the popular mind. Following this will come an analysis of the mass mind with a reminder that no mere religious dabbling but a serious and professionally respectable theological effort has paved the way for what is taking place. And then, in conclusion, I shall suggest the direction in which Christian thought and life must move if the One True God is to be disencumbered of the strange gods now before him.


At this point it will be useful to summarize the central beliefs of liberationist theologians and review what attitudes and practices characterize the life style of Social Gospel Christians. But it is important in understanding how liberationism has led to widespread idolatry first to understand what it is that directly connects this currently popular Christian ideology and its corresponding life style to the work of the three great secular geniuses named. The connecting link is a deterministic world view.2

The overall effect of the work of Marx, Freud and Darwin on our times has been to cause most moderns, Christians included, to take a largely deterministic and materialistic view, a profane view, of the human condition. Where the influence of these environmental determinists has been most extreme, one even finds Christians who are hostile toward the suggestion that spiritual and supernatural forces are now and always have been real and potent influences in human affairs. Such Christians may acknowledge God as somehow the generator of life and Jesus Christ as a supreme moral force, but their basic creed is that of most modern agnostics. The supernatural simply has no reality for them.

Some qualification concerning the three determinist philosophers needs to be made, however. Except in the case of Marx, who was openly at war with the religious view of man that dominated his society, it has not been these thinkers’ actual findings as much as popularizations of their views which have undermined Christian belief. Hence the stress here at the start will be on the idols as popular idols.

Darwin has perhaps been the most sinned against in the popularization process. Neither he nor Freud ever wrote (nor, it seems, believed) that man is trapped in his biology or locked into his psychology and is beyond the help of God and grace. If Freud and Darwin seem to have fathered such concepts, it is largely because twentieth-century novelists and playwrights of the fatalist and nihilist schools, generally the existentialists,3 present the case so. True empiricists, Freud and Darwin by and large stopped short of pushing their theories further into the spiritual realm than they could be made to go.

A clearer identification of the Christian mind-set and life style is also called for here. The distinguishing characteristic of liberation theology, whose chief thinkers shall be discussed later, is its strong emphasis, to the neglect of other Christian essentials, on the Christian mandate to social action on behalf of the world’s oppressed. As explained in a Time report of a convention of two hundred liberationist theologians in Detroit in the Fall of 1975, sin to liberationist Christians is any oppression of one person or group by another.4 At least this is the chief evil which liberationists oppose. And indeed, a very specialized and heterodox understanding of evil, as will be shown, runs through the writings of Jose Porfirio Miranda, Gustavo Gutierrez and the foremost liberationist theologians.

The net effect of the liberationists’ overemphasis on social action is to do violence to the contemplation/action or faith/works syndrome that normally describes the Christian life. To liberationists and Christian social activists, action is all. Action, political action, is the measure of faith. In action is faith: in demonstration on behalf of political prisoners, in the care and relocation of refugees, in marches for peace and civil rights and amnesty, and in the relief of oppressed minorities and third-world or underdeveloped peoples.

That such activity can indeed come under the heading of Christian good work is undeniable. Arguing simply from the natural law and the Christian principle of the common good, two great modern popes, Leo XIII and Pius IX, strongly took the side of industrial workers and the poor in general against industrial capitalism’s excesses. Encyclicals of Pius XII and Paul VI have reasoned in the same vein. But it is also undeniable that for countless moderns who call themselves Christians, the Christian obligation has become identical with social activism. Apart from this, nothing matters much-a view which had to come from a source other than papal teaching.

One other source, though by no means the only one, is the writings of liberationist theologians, which include all the religious treatises written in the liberationist vein between 1917, when the German Protestant theologian Walter Rauschenbusch originated the term Social Gospel Christianity, and our own day.5

The emphasis here will first be upon the specific manifestations of the idolatrous frame of mind, in other words, on the general mind-set of ordinary contemporary Christians who have been strongly influenced by liberationist thought. Thereafter, I shall describe the idols themselves.


Christians strongly under the sway of liberationist thinkers tend to have little use for believers of more devotional mentality. To Christian activists, these more private and withdrawn Christians are escapist. Activists accuse them of running to church all the time and neglecting their suffering neighbors. Indeed, among activist reformers there is a general tendency not to take literally or seriously Jesus’ exhortation to His followers that they should take to their prayer closets regularly in order to talk to the Father in secret (Matt. 6:6). Such regular withdrawal is, in the eyes of passionately convinced liberationists, just that-withdrawal-at the very time when the spirit of Church renewal everywhere is saying Go out to the world.

So in general it is safe to say of social gospel or activist Christians that for them there is nothing genuinely religious apart from the earthly fight against political, racial, economic and sexual oppression, battles which for sincere activists clearly have a transcendent glow. In such a program, religion’s more purely supernatural elements atrophy from simple neglect: prayer and contemplation, worship and liturgy, sacraments and preaching, pious devotional practices in general. These things have relevance for activists not in themselves but only if linked somehow to liberation efforts on behalf of oppressed peoples.

But devotional practices do have relevance for Christian activists if that link to liberation efforts is secure. Hence it is not really fair (although at another level it may be true) to accuse social-minded Christians of being against prayer. Their thoughtful rejoinder to this allegation can always be that they are not against prayer but rather are against the lack of good works that prayerful attitudes commonly signify. And in practice, Christian activists do take pains to link prayer and works in ways that make clear the link they see between them. Of use in making this link plain, at least during the past several years, have been various candlelight vigils outside the Capitol or other public buildings, “prayer vigils” as they have been called. These have attracted the attention of officials and the public to a number of the liberationists’ causes while discrediting as unChristian the officials’ slowness to act.

Of course what has tended to be missed in the confused scene surrounding candlelight vigils and other public demonstrations which have claimed prayer or religion as a base is the possibility that the protest demonstrations, despite the religious aura that is made to surround them, are ultimately political actions done for political ends. This may be why political activists of all types, including atheists and Marxists, can march along in step with the sincere and idealistic Christian leadership of some of the religious protest events of our times.

It is plain that public demonstrations of this type do not involve a true communion of Christian believers. The expectation in the street protest is always that all the human pressure that such protests generate against our all-too-human public officials will jolt or scare them into acting to remedy the very real human problems. The parameters of these events are thus entirely human. Prayer as a means of moving the will of the Almighty, prayer that believes in God’s direct intervention in men’s affairs-prayer, in short, as traditionally understood-seems to have no real place in some of these demonstrations, nor in the liberationists’ overall program. This is another way of saying that, for many, God as a supreme transcendent Being, as an acting and willing agent, as a Person or Persons, has no place in the activist program. And there may be indeed too little recognition among activist Christians that at the heart of the Christian life there has to be a deeply personal and unique relationship with God in faith and love.


Moderns are seduced away from the true God by mental, not physical, constructs and totems. The stone and bronze ages are long past. Modern idolatry almost always involves large numbers of the faithful in mass enthusiasm for some partial or distorted image of God. Some god-splinter or god-fantasm comes to supplant the true God of revelation.

So it has been with the image of God presented to the faithful by the pioneer liberationists, most of them clergy, who during the past quarter century fell substantially under the sway of Marx, Freud and Darwin, were also influenced heavily by existentialist philosophers,6 and then undertook to mesh their new understandings with their old ones, especially in the area of exegesis. Leaders of the worldwide movement tend to be Latin Americans. Those whose writings have been most influential include the Uruguayan Juan Luis Segundo, the Peruvian Gustavo Gutierrez, Columbians such as Orlando Fals-Borda and Camilo Torres, the Brazilians Rubem Alves, Paulo Freire and Dom Helder Camara, and the Mexican Jose Porfirio Miranda.

But it is not necessary to read any of the books of these thinkers in order to fall under the power of their thought. So thoroughly has the liberationist view of God and man penetrated the Christian consciousness in Western countries that it informs more than half of the journalistic writings in the religious presses, both Catholic and Protestant, and colors almost as high a percentage of the sermons heard in our churches.7

The liberationists have riveted the bulk of their attention on the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. It is Jesus Christ of the Gospels whom they have replaced with false images fashioned by themselves. The Father and the Spirit they largely ignore, but two false images of Christ have emerged. As a memory aid, these images shall be named Jesus Robin Hood and Jesus Tiny Tim.

Jesus Robin Hood is of course a Jesus whose chief mission on earth has been to take from the rich and give to the poor. He tends to be especially popular with idealistic young people. Frank Sheed has recently undertaken to deflate this false Jesus whom he calls “Jesus as a proletarian revolutionary.”8 Jesus did, of course, sometimes criticize the rich for taking advantage of the poor, as when He castigated the Pharisees for wasting the goods of widows (Matt. 23:14). But equalizing wealth among persons and nations simply was not central to His mission, still less was it the whole of His mission. The falseness of Jesus Robin Hood, then, lies with this figure’s being presented as the full Biblical Jesus when it in fact represents only a part or aspect of the real Christ.

Jesus Robin Hood, it should be noted, is a bi-racial deity. One form he takes, increasingly more as the Black theology movement grows, is that of the “funky Jesus”. Funky Jesus has been described by Black minister Clarence Hilliard of Circle Church in Chicago:

We and our leaders have been preaching a honky Christ to a world hungry for the funky Jesus of the Bible. The honky Christ stands with the status quo, the funky Jesus moves apart from the ruling religious system. Jesus stood with and for the poor and oppressed and disinherited. He came for the sick and needy.9

As has been noted by another prominent Black minister, John Perkins of the Voice of Calvary Project in Mendenhall, Mississippi, Black theology does not have wide acceptance in the Black churches and the Black community. Black theology is “still a theology of the books and not of the streets.”10 Nonetheless, as Black militancy grows, Funky Jesus may rise to be another popular superstar.

The second false messiah is Jesus Tiny Tim. Like Dickens’ little crippled hero, this Jesus is the very personification of sentimental love. “God bless us every one!” is here thought to be the whole of the Gospel Jesus’ message. But the real Jesus was anything but a pious sentimentalist. He had come to bring a sword, one that would divide brother from brother and children from parents (Matt. 10:34-5). Those not with Him would be against Him. There was no other way.

The ecumenical movement tends to both attract and create followers of Jesus Tiny Tim. This is because some erroneously believe that the opening out which ecumenism entails signals a latecoming admission on the part of the churches that one religion is as good, as true, as another. A certain misunderstanding of peace likewise suits perfectly the program of those who adopt the Jesus Tiny Tim view. Too often overlooked is the fact that the peace which the real Jesus most commonly talked about was an interior virtue, peace of soul or relief from anxiety. It was what entered into a man when he turned in faith to Jesus as his personal Savior, forsook his sins, and was blessed by the Father’s love and providence. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). For the liberationist, however, peace means chiefly one thing, the cessation of armed conflicts or “capitalist aggression”, with the interpretation that all wars are economic in origin. In other words, by not accepting the Biblical Jesus as the strong-minded and divisive personality that He is, this so-called Christian ideology distorts the very image of God.


In contributing to the false images of Jesus Robin Hood and Jesus Tiny Tim, liberationist theologians have not been deceitful or ill-willed. By and large their efforts have been serious and sincere and backed by creditable scholarship. Miranda, Segundo and Alves in particular are indebted, both in thought content and pedantic practice, to the most important German exegetes and theologians of early in this century: Bonhoeffer, Moltmann, Tillich, Barth, Zimmerli, Bultmann and others. l l

All of the liberationist thinkers we are considering make repeated references, far more often than do their European and North American counterparts, to the encyclicals of the modern popes. Ranking next in importance are the documents of Vatican Council II and of the Latin American Episcopal Conference at Medellin (1968). Other theologians who carry much weight with the group as a whole are Henri de Lubac, Harvey Cox, Karl Rahner and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The latter figure, Teilhard, ranks especially high with Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Recife in Brazil, who is the one great original genius in the group and who stands out for his firm and comprehensive grasp of the minutiae of practical realities as well as for his breathtaking socio-religious vision. All thinkers are likewise indebted to Karl Marx.

The liberationists deserve some credit just for taking on and wrestling with one of the weightiest problems to beset the Church down through the centuries, i.e., the relationship between the natural and the supernatural in human existence. Miranda, whose important work Marx and the Bible (1971) should be read thoughtfully by anyone researching liberationism, pinpoints Matthew 25:31-46 as the Gospel text most central to an understanding of the movement. Here Jesus tells his followers that entrace to the Kingdom (supernature) is earned only by those who during their earthly lives feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Miranda takes pains to show how, from Yahweh’s earliest relationship with Israel, He acted as a liberating God.12 Camara, meanwhile, courageously makes his way along the tightrope of the nature/ supernature dialectic while balancing brilliantly the insights of the older and newer theologies. Camara quotes Pope Paul on the New Humanism in order to embody the momentous problem, the one that is central to all liberationism, in a single wise sentence: “The religion of God become man has encountered the religion-for it is a religion-of man become God.”13

But it is Gutierrez who perhaps furthest advances our understanding of the theological complexities of the nature/ supernature problem by linking it to the work of Jacques Maritain, who constructed in this century a theory of the “New Christendom”. Drawing upon the Thomistic insight that grace does not suppress or replace nature, but rather perfects it, Maritain saw the necessity for building a “profane Christendom”. In practical terms, Gutierrez explains, the change was from a “Catholic action” brand of Catholicism to one in which a “Christian presence”, chiefly a lay presence, inserted itself into the world in an effort to build up the world and the Kingdom both.14

It is perhaps obvious how the false Jesuses described previously have been raised out of liberation theology. Jesus Robin Hood is of course a true son of Yahweh the Liberator, as is his dark brother, Funky Jesus. Jesus Tiny Tim, the compulsive peacemaker, is less easy to account for, until one reads Camilo Torres’ impassioned call to social revolution which envisions all human differences and allegiances as melting or disappearing into perfect unity as a result of encounter with the liberating heat of the revolutionary cause.15 In any case, the connection between the serious theological efforts of liberationist theologians and the activist movement in today’s Church is plain.

The thoughtful researcher is certain to find himself wondering how such otherwise discerning intelligences have fallen so fully and uncritically under the sway of Karl Marx. References to Marx’s ideas do not simply dot these writers’ pages. Marx’s spirit informs them. In this the serious theologians are quite similar to the popular theologians who grasp a few Marxist basics and then ravage the Bible in order to gather support for them. Nor do Freud and Darwin exercise anything like the hypnotic hold over the group that Marx has.

One pores in vain over the pages of Marx’s own writings to shed light on this problem. The same scholarly hiatus is seen in Marx. Without making any effort to examine the infinite number of other options, he simply posits as unquestionably true that class struggle is the single common denominator and determinant operating in human history, and then goes forward from there.16 Marx does likewise with another of his key ideas, namely that poor nations become poorer because rich nations become richer.17 Only in our own time has scholarship undertaken to show how totally false, in terms of global economics, is this view of the relations between the colonial powers and the third world nations.18

In this writing we are of course more interested in accounting for the mental quirks of our theologians as a group than for those of Karl Marx. And at least a start can be made in unravelling the mystery of their uncritical acceptance of Marx’s ideas if we consider that the Tubingen school of theology, which flourished from 1826 to 1860, was a very strong influence on the group of German theologians who so strongly influenced Marx and Engels also. Some observations made Tubingen influenced Marx and Engels also. Some observations made by Engels about Tubingen’s theological contribution give us a long lead on the mystery:

In critical inquiry, it [Tubingen] goes as far as a theological school can go…. It admits that the four Gospels are not eyewitness accounts…. It strikes out of the historical narrations all miracles and contradictions, considering them as unacceptable …. 19

In other words, Tubingen, simply by discarding the miraculous content of Holy Writ, gave a thoroughly scientific and materialistic interpretation to the Bible. In doing so it eliminated the single most important obstacle to Christian full acceptance of Marx’s materialism, i.e., the incontestably supernatural.

The liberationist theologians of Latin America all fell heir to this theology. It came to them by way of the German theologies of demythologization who have affected so much of contemporary theology. Practically speaking, the effect upon the liberationists has been to leave them totally devoid of two understandings which would seem to be essential parts of any theology, Catholic theology especially, that has pretentions to orthodoxy or claims to be in any sense reliable and true: 1)they show no awareness whatever that Satan and his agents are real and active influences in men’s affairs; and, 2)they have virtually no appreciation of the effective power of prayer.

To take up the first of these, Miranda perhaps gives more attention than the others to the question of the origins of evil in our world. And he comes up with this opinion, in which he claims St. Paul coincides with Marx:

Sin and evil, which were later structured into an enslaving civilizing system, are not inherent to mankind and history; they began one day through a human work and can, therefore, be eliminated.20

Satan eludes Miranda completely. The writer does not even acknowledge the Evil One as a useful myth: “More than one reader [of human history] would get the impression of a mythological personification, but it is not so.”21 Hence we find that the liberation theologians, who are presumably all good men and lovers of the Church, and who have pored over Sacred Scripture for most of their professional lives, apparently do not acknowledge, simply do not see, the thousands of dark powers active in its pages. Our Lord dealt with devils openly, oftentimes addressing them by name, and he coached his followers in how to cast them out and otherwise to reduce their influence. The theologians considered here are not nearly so fundamentalist.

The second blind spot, that concerning prayer, can best be seen with all of its agonizing inbuilt tensions, as a near insoluble dialectic, in the pages of Archbishop Helder Camara’s brilliant work, Revolution Through Peace (1971). The Archbishop calls for an effort to raise Brazil’s humble masses out of the ignorance, fatalism and superstition that frequently pass for religion in their minds:

It is high time we purified the religion of the humble, reminding out brothers that of course God exists, that of course He has the power to intervene in the Universe and in human life at anytime; but it is also true, and crystal clear, that God has given man dominion over nature and the power to finish Creation by taming the natural forces of the world.22

But moving in the direction that he does here, a direction with the philosophical base that grace perfects nature, Camara moves also toward a disparagement of that simple, childlike faith in the Father’s providence that the Scriptural Jesus encouraged in Matthew 7, Mark 10, Luke 11 and elsewhere. Thus the Archbishop pronounces on certain pious religious practices:

Instead of contenting ourselves with watching people hold processions to beg for rain when there is drought, and other processions to beg for the rain to stop when there is a flood, we will teach from one end of this continent to the other that droughts and floods are problems we must solve ourselves by technical means, by the use of intelligence, courage, discipline, and honesty.23

With his discouragement of religious processions that involve pureprayer, i.e., prayer which calls on the Almighty to solve a problem by direct intervention, Camara is in clear contradiction to his own professed belief in Divine intervention. He has joined the ranks of the New Humanists, whom Pope Paul has denounced for their arrogant belief in “man become God”. But the Archbishop is not completely a New Humanist either. He is clearly torn by this secular religion’s claims upon him. A great deal of the power of Camara’s Spiral of Violence (1970) and Revolution Through Peace (1971) derives from their being a record of the brilliant mind of a great and undeniably holy modern churchman, the stuff of which saints are made, making tormented circles around the outer limits of both faith and unfaith, hopelessly unable to find or forge a bridge between them, and yet somehow managing not to despair.

The pages of Dom Helder Camara also reveal precisely how the two disbeliefs, in Satan’s power and in prayer’s efficacy, are linked. A most benign rationalism marks the Archbishop’s thinking. In his view all the great human problems will eventually be solved by science. He believes that youth have received a special revelation concerning peace and justice and ought to be listened to with reverence by all. The future is man’s, and men of good will of all ideational backgrounds march toward it in a vast fellowship of the heart. As for the Church, it has overcome the world through the Christlike action of becoming one with the world.

Such views seem highly ingenuous now, for the premise underlying them all is that, modern man being a reasonable and mature creature, the reasonable and sensible will prevail. War will disappear now that it is seen to be suicidal, “unthinkable”. Marxists and Christians, discovering that they have identical hopes for lifting up the oppressed, will learn to work together. Enlightened Marxists will even be converted to Christianity because they will discover that “the Gospel is much more demanding, much more revolutionary than Marx.”24 Here we have a view without provision for, or any means to cope with, the perverse, the demonic, as it operates in human affairs.

The connection that all this has with prayer should be obvious. A man like Dom Helder Camara does not view the source of evil as possessed of a conscious and working, not to mention brilliant, intelligence. Rather, for Camara evil is something impersonal, a “shadow”, and so he naturally assumes that enlightened human beings have the wherewithal to control and deal with evil.25

There is no recognition here that some human beings do evil for the pleasure of it, without excuse, or simply to insure that the good does not succeed. To him the only reason Marxists are Marxists and atheists are atheists is because of the bad example afforded to them by believers. Apprised of the facts about Christianity, they would convert easily.26 In other words, this great churchman seems not to conceive of evil of supernatural cunning, design and proportions. Small wonder that he does not encourage his followers to seek supernatural help in dealing with it.

In summary, it can be said of Dom Helder Camara, and of the liberation theologians generally, that they represent the triumph of rationalism, the spirit of the Enlightenment, in the Church. They feel fully and even supremely confident of their power to deal with what they see, but they are neither seeing all that is there or seeing clearly what they do see. Theirs is the overconfidence, born out of intoxication with knowledge, against which Father Walter J. Ong, S.J. has warned in a brilliant essay on prospects in theology: And the result of it all [our vast human knowledge] is that we feel that we have the future in our hands, or if not quite the future, at least the present. But we do not.27


In conclusion let us suggest what the churches will need to do if they are to eliminate the confusion that roughly two decades of liberationist thinking have already caused. What is certainly not wanted is any closing of the books on Christian activism or Christian political involvement generally. The cruciform that ideally describes the Christian life, with its faith and works components in balanced distribution, must be respected: prayer has to support works, and vice versa. However, it seems not out of order to suggest that, given present circumstances, with the false Jesuses of this discussion so firmly enthroned in the popular mind, and with the ravages from so much unchecked horizontalism so widespread in the churches, a period of special emphasis on faith’s vertical dimension, on pure prayer, is in order. What specifically is needed is a pulling together in a massive interfaith alliance, formal as well as informal, of persons and groups whose religious orientation is strongly devotional or “verticalist”. Three such groups come immediately to mind.

The first group includes those Protestants in the mainline denominations whose reservations about many religious beliefs and practices of our time were reflected in the important Hartford Statement of Religious Affirmations released in the Spring of 1975 by a group of concerned theologians.28 The spirit of the Hartford Statement was definitely against the New Humanism. Persons in sympathy with the statement can be typed generally as theological conservatives, more or less evangelical in persuasion.

The second group are those Roman Catholics known generally as “traditional” Catholics. They are those who in the years since the Second Vatican Council have resisted pressures and have remained largely faithful to the Roman teaching authority, or magisterium. They have strong attachment to the Catholic liturgy and eucharist and they make regular believing use of the standard Catholic formulaic prayers.

The third group includes all charismatics and pentecostals. Included here are persons in churches which are classically pentecostal, black churches along with white, as well as the thousands of persons in the mainline churches who have become active in the charismatic renewal movement during recent years.

The most important element uniting these three groups is their unabashed supernaturalism. The traditional or conservative Catholic, nostalgic for the days when God’s truth and the Church’s teachings were expected to receive courageous and faith-filled witness in a profane world, has more in common with Protestant evangelicals than he or she fully realizes. And whatever the Catholic traditionalist may think of pentecostal piety, the reverent pilgrimages he makes to Lourdes and other shrines, not to mention his devotionalism generally, reveal him to be, along with all charismatics, a believer in miracles and the efficacy of prayer. Evangelicals and charismatics, of course, share their enthusiasm for the Bible and for many forms of evangelical witness. They are united too in their certainty that Satan and his legions are as active now as in Our Lord’s time. Finally, it may be that these Christian supernaturalists will very soon lead a vast movement back to the point where the vertical and horizontal forces meet in the cross of Christ Jesus. When they do, the idols will be destroyed, and the Father’s house will become once again a house of prayer.



1 The name was originated by Walter Rauschenbusch, a German Protestant theologian strongly influenced by  Marx, who set forth in his A Theology for the Social Gospel (1917) the lines of a Christian reaction to the excesses of laissez-faire capitalism.

       2 Frederick Engels, speaking for himself and Karl Marx, openly acknowledged in the 1888 preface to The Communist Manifesto that the Manifesto was “destined to do for history what Darwin’s theory has done for biology.” (In Basic Writings on Politics and Philosophy, by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, ed. Lewis S. Feuer (New York: Anchor, 1959), pp. 4-5).
Writers generally in this tradition include Sartre, Dostoyevsky, Camus, Kafka, Conrad, Lawrence, De Beauvoir, Unamuno, Beckett and Hemingway. For a listing of existentialist philosophers see note 6 below.

4 Time, Sept. 1, 1975, p.34.

5 See note 1.

6 The philosophers we have chiefly in mind are Nietzsche, Heidegger, Jaspers, Pascal, Kierkegaard and Sartre.

7 Religious journals that take a generally liberationist and activist line include The Christian Century, Commonweal, National Catholic Reporter, The Churchwoman and Postamerican.

8 In The Church and I, Doubleday, 1974, p. 317. Sheed writes, “Now, it is true that Jesus attacked the rich. But it was not for their exploitation of the poor that he attacked them: it was precisely for thinking only of this world and ignoring the next-laying up treasures where moth and rust consume, instead of in heaven.” (Mt. 6:19-20)

9 Down with the Honky Christ- Up with the Funky Jesus in Christianity Today (Jan. 30, 1976), p. 6.

10 The Mendenhall Model Answers the Black Muslims (interview), ibid., p. 9. See also The `Miracle’ of Black Preaching by James S. Tinny, in Christianity Today, Jan. 30, 1976, 14-16.

11 The following works are starting points for an examination of the liberation theologians: Revolutionary Writings, by C. Torres; Marx and the Bible, by J. Miranda; Spiral of Violence and Revolution through Peace, by H. Camara; A Theology of Human Hope, by R. Alves; and A Theology of Liberation by G. Gutierrez.

12 NFw York: Orbis, 1971, pp. 19 and 35-76.

13 Revolution through Peace (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), p. 20.

14 A Theology of Liberation, (Orbis: New York, 1973), pp.54-6 and 63-6. 15 See Revolutionary Writings, by Camilo Torres (New York: Herder & Herder, 1969), esp. p. 190.

16 Marx and Engels, op. cit., p. 7.

17 Marx’s and Engels’ view of the Third World problem can be extrapolated from Engels’ discussions On Historical Materialism and Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, ibid., pp.47-67 and 90-111. Here, as in Capital and The Communist Manifesto, the capitalist is assumed to be naturally predatory.

18 See Western Guilt and Third World Poverty by P.T. Bauer in Commentary X(Jan. 1976), 31-38; also Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The United States in Opposition, in Commentary (Mar. 1975), 31-44.

19 Engels, op. cit., pp. 174-5.

20 Marx and the Bible (New York: Orbis, 1974), pp. 182-183. His fully mechanistic explanation for the origin of evil appears in the chapter Law and Civilization. Cf. Gutierrez on sin, op. cit., pp.35-7.

21 Miranda, p. 254.

22 Ed. Ruthe Nanda Anshen (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), p.22.

23 Ibid., p.34.

24 Ibid., p. 72. Cf. 26-31 for his kindly view of Marxists.

25 See his use of the shadow image, ibid., pp. 14 and 48. Camara comes closest to an admission that the Satanic impulse is at loose in the world when he pronounces against the “cold masters of the world”, the capitalist warmongers of the developed nations (pp. 46-8). But he clearly views the demonic as a personified abstraction rather than a true person.

26 Ibid., pp. 27-31 and 71-2.

27 Catholic Theology Now in Theology Digest (Winter 1975), p. 341.

28 Time and elsewhere, Feb. 10, 1975.