Master of Arts (MA)


Carl J Diemer, Ed Smither

Primary Subject Area

History, Church; Theology


Gustavo Gutiérrez is considered the father of Latin American liberation theology. Walter Rauschenbusch is considered the father of the Social Gospel in the United States. Although their circumstances differed greatly, both theologians made similar contributions to social Christianity, even though Gutiérrez does not seem to recognize it fully. Gutiérrez asserts that a theology of liberation must interpret the gospel in light of both the current reality and the values of the oppressed and then must use this theology to attack the social structures of oppression. This thesis asserts that Rauschenbusch did just that with his social gospel. Thus, the social gospel is a theology of liberation. The comparison between the two theologies is made by analyzing how each thinker centers his theology on the concept of the Kingdom of God. Once the centrality of the Kingdom is posited for both men, their understandings of three doctrines - soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology - are examined. Each theologian relates these three doctrines to the Kingdom in similar ways. After each system is discussed individually, explicit comparisons are made. The study demonstrates the methodological and doctrinal similarities between Rauschenbusch and Gutiérrez, but also notes the practical shortcomings of both theologies and how these failures are essentially linked to doctrinal formulations.