MHT: Theological Critiques of Modern History

This post is part of an ongoing series reflecting on the appropriate approach to and method for historical theology.

Gustavo Guitierrez
Gustavo Guitierrez

A number of theologically active Postmodern critiques have arisen in recent decades as well, most notably Liberation, Feminist, and Postcolonial Theologies. Founded by Gustavo Gutierrez, Liberation Theology places an emphasis on salvation, God’s work in history, and concern for the poor. Feminist models of historical reconstruction employ familiar categories—such as family structures—in order to problematize patriarchal categories and demonstrate the possibility of egalitarian historical interaction.[26] For some, however, common Postmodern critiques do not go far enough in removing themselves from the parameters and assumptions of Modernism. Such is the perspective of Justo Gonzalez, who advocates “extramodernity,” the perspective of the “many voices and perspectives that modernity either ignored or patronized and that postmodernity still patronizes and ignores.”[27]

Overall, Postmodern historiography emphasizes the relative nature of reality, the constructedness and ideological essence of narratives, and the need to hear voices previously subjected or neglected. Postmodern history advocates that conceptions of the past become historically conscious, aware of relativity, reject eschatological transcendence, and recognize complexity, thereby contextualizing all history and theology within the particular perspectives from which they arose.


[26] Some brands of feminist theology, such as that of Mary E. Daly, are considerably more radical in their orientation.

[27] Gonzalez, 59.


Published by Jacob J. Prahlow

Husband of Hayley. Dad of Bree and Judah. Lead pastor at Arise Church. MATS from Saint Louis University, MA from Wake Forest University, BA from Valparaiso University. Theologian and writer here and at Conciliar Post. Find me on social at @pastorjakestl

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