Relating Faith and Political Action: Utopia in the Theology of Gustavo Gutiérrez

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation investigates Gustavo Gutiérrez’s understanding of liberation as a three-dimensional process: 1) economic and political emancipation; 2) creation of a new humanity in a new society of justice; and 3) freedom from sin. The notion of “utopia”? corresponds to the second dimension, and works as the bridge allowing for the relation of faith to political action without confusion or collapse. This dissertation argues that the notion of utopia serves as a central, unifying concept for Gutiérrez’s entire theological project. Chapter 1 examines the stages in the formation of Gutiérrez’s theology. First, Gutiérrez studied in Europe where he was exposed to nouvelle theologie. Second, Gutiérrez returned to Peru and its situation of injustice. Third, Gutierrez incorporated insights from the Second Vatican Council and Populorum Progressio. Fourth, Gutiérrez’s theology was confirmed at the Latin American bishops’ conference held in Medellin, Colombia in 1968.

Chapter 2 analyses utopia as treated in A Theology of Liberation: Gutiérrez’s sources for the notion, what he means by the notion, and how it operates throughout this work. This dissertation argues that utopia’s essential role of mediating between faith and political action, allowing for relation without collapse, is necessary for properly interpreting Gutiérrez’s theology.

Chapter 3 investigates how utopia functions throughout Gutiérrez’s subsequent works. Without explicitly treating of utopia, Gutierrez continues to structure his argument around utopia’s mediating role as he discusses topics like spirituality, theology, and the Trinity. Chapter 4 investigates critics of Guti?rrez: Cardinal Ratzinger, (Pope Benedict XVI), and “Radical Orthodoxy’s” Daniel Bell. Ratzinger argues that Gutiérrez’s use of utopia results in a collapse of faith into politics. Bell argues that Gutiérrez’s theology keeps these poles mutually exclusive. This dissertation argues that a proper understanding of Gutiérrez’s use of utopia invalidates these criticisms.

Chapter 5 examines the theology of the Philippines’ Second Plenary Council. The council’s appropriation of liberation theology’s insights fail to adequately relate faith and political action because of a lack of understanding of utopia’s mediating role within Gutiérrez’s three dimensions of liberation. This discussion of the council’s theology confirms the importance of utopia as an essential concept in a theology of liberation.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07202007-124112

Author Raymond Bautista Aguas
Advisor Robert Krieg
Contributor Virgilio Elizondo, Committee Member
Contributor Robert Krieg, Committee Chair
Contributor Timothy Matovina, Committee Member
Contributor Mary Doak, Committee Co-Chair
Contributor Mary Catherine Hilkert, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Theology
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2007-06-26

Submission Date 2007-07-20
  • United States of America

  • Utopia

  • Gustavo Gutierrez

  • Liberation Theology

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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