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Abstract

The Revolution of Tradition proposes a new approach to the study of social justice in democratic societies, stressing the key role of religious traditions in the revolutionary struggle for human liberation. Focused on the case of Latin American liberation theology (particularly on Gustavo Gutierrez’), my dissertation argues that this movement represents a revolutionary moment in the history of self-interpretation of the Christian tradition. Further, I argue that liberation theology also represents blueprint to understand how religious traditions can creatively reinterpret themselves to enter the public sphere as decisive agents in the effort to lessen want, protect the most vulnerable, and work for social justice. In doing so, The Revolution of Tradition proposes a change of perspective. In addition to concentrating on the undeniable importance of liberation theology in the social and political transformation of Latin America in the second half of the twentieth century, this dissertation stresses liberation theology’s central contributions to the development of a theory of social justice that welcomes the emancipatory thrust of religion. Drawing from theologian David Tracy’s method of critical correlation, the dissertation focuses on the key historical, philosophical, and theological shifts that allowed liberation theologians to produce a new interpretation of the relationship between faith and politics in the Christian tradition, especially when issues of social justice are at stake. Yet, the dissertation pursues its study of this theological movement through an unconventional path: a critical dialogue with the work of philosopher John Rawls and some of his key interlocutors. The contention of this investigation is that this uncanny dialogue allows us to see more clearly the contributions of liberation theology to the development of a comprehensive theory of social justice; one that is capable of incorporating, rather than bracketing, the liberating intuitions of religion.

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