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tuted what we here call Christendom [Cristiandad]: that is, a religious and cultural system with political, economic, and various other facets. In this system, the existential experience of the Christian was linked with hellenistic ways of conceptualizing existence. What concerns us here is Latin Christendom in the West, specifically the Spanish version of it that came to America bearing traces of the modern Europe that was then taking shape. The hispanic or Latin American Church is the product of a vast and lengthy process which mirrored what was taking place on the European continent at various stages. Colonial domination, the secularization of life, and the crisis of European modernization have ushered in a new and unforeseen state of affairs.

There is another important point to be kept in mind. If a person wishes to engage in theological reflection in Latin America, he must first know and appreciate the conditions which allow for the very possibility of reflection or thinking. If this thinking is to be Christian as well, it must take into account the fact of cultural dependence and the fact that the cultural system known as Christendom is disintegrating. That is the situation which confronts the thinker, the historian, the philosopher, and the theologian in Latin America. They all must take note of, and try to provide solutions for, the new situation that is arising as we move beyond Christendom, the modernist outlook, and the imperial "will to power."

This presupposes a whole new horizon of understanding, a whole hermeneutic structure which is not yet accessible to the average Christian or even to the theologian himself in some instances. In practice it calls for a new existential outlook that will formulate the issues in a way which will measure up to the urgent demands imposed on us by the whole question of Latin American liberation. It is a disturbing and risky situation because it is essentially a prophetic xii situation. Our position will be denigrated and criticized by unfounded progressivism and by integralist traditionalism. But the way to a Christian solution to the present-day crisis in Latin America is clear. As Jesus said to his disciples: "Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead" (Matt. 8:22).

From this historical city, where the Latin American

Church had something akin to a new Pentecost,

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