Ellacuría’s Tripartite Salvation
This dissertation in the area of Christian Systematic Theology offers a critique of the political-economic, philosophical, and cultural framework of neoliberalism through the framework of Ignacio Ellacuría’s liberation theology. The project grounds itself in Ellacuría’s theological vision of historical soteriology, where one understands salvation as the persistence of Christ’s salvific act through history and in which all are called to participate through cooperative grace. It is through this theological lens, in conjunction with Ellacuría’s philosophical and political thought, that a full critique of neoliberalism’s various facets is accomplished. The project offers this critique through an analysis of neoliberalism’s false promises of prosperity, stability, and salvation from impoverishment. Chapter 1 offers a definition of neoliberalism as manifesting in three ways: a political-economic theory that manifested in the policies of the Reagan administration in the United States and the Thatcher Government in the United Kingdom, a philosophical high theory critiqued by thinkers in the Marxist and Foucauldian traditions, and a cultural framework that is open to theological critique. The chapter serves as a survey of significant figures of each facet of neoliberalism. Chapter 2 outlines the focal points of Ellacuría’s philosophical thought, most importantly his theory of historical reality. Using these philosophical tools, Ellacuría is put into dialogue with the philosophical critics of neoliberalism to show the philosophical claims implicit in neoliberal thought are untenable. Chapter 3 explores Ellacuría’s theology with a focus on historical soteriology and engagement with reality. The theory of historical soteriology then serves as a critical tool to examine neoliberalism’s underlying tenets that offer a false promise of salvation. Chapter 4 develops a political theology of dissent drawing from Ellacuría’s work in “Utopia and Propheticism in Latin America,” in which Ellacuría offers one of his strongest critiques of the civilization of capital. The political theology of dissent offers an alternative framework to the contemporary neoliberal conception of political economy, focusing on discernment and community. Finally, Chapter 5 synthesizes the Ellacurían Critique from Chapters 2-4 and puts it into conversation with other theological critics of neoliberalism. This dialogue shows the Ellacuría Critique to be a complimentary to other critics of neoliberalism while adding a unique Catholic liberationist voice to the conversation.