When a nation or a people is not familiar with the evolution of its community, when it does not know how it fits into the history that goes back to the beginnings of Christianity, then its theologizing is unreal. Theologians will only alienate those who study under them, propounding notions that are current in Japan or Europe or North America but that don't "work" here. Once we realize that these notions do not work here, we turn to sociology. We will do "religious sociology," we say to ourselves. But that won't work either. Such "religious sociology" often remains at the level of mere statistics. It is not really sociology; it is sociography. In other words, it stops at the level of description and does not explore or explain reality in depth. For an in-depth study and explanation of reality, we must appeal to the human sciences as a whole; we must include economics and politics. We must appeal to the whole history of a culture. When this history is reconsidered in the light of faith, then we are beginning to theologize, to work out a theology of the present moment in history.
Theologians today are well aware of the fact that history is the privileged locus of theology. In Europe, for example, this is taken for granted; it is quite normal and logical. The European theologian is solidly integrated and rooted in history, whether he adverts to the fact or not. Such is not the case, however, in Latin America.
Here I do not intend to give an anecdotal account of the facts of Church history in Latin America. Instead I shall try to contemplate and explicitate the meaning and import of certain facts and events. These particular facts and events will serve as the starting point for my theologizing. That is precisely what I will be doing when I try to ponder the meaning of historical facts and events. And when I sum up in my concluding remarks, I will be repeating myself to a certain extent. For the initial exposition itself will provide us with a theological interpretation.
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