Popular Theologies in Higher Education

When you walk into any class about religion, especially in the beginning, you will notice words and terms getting thrown around that you may not have a full grasp on yet. One thing that may help in this situation is to know more about the theologies that are getting A LOT of discussion in higher education. Here is a list of popular theologies that came to mind that I wish I would have known more about before my journey began. Neither the theologies nor the people to read about is exhaustive, but it’s a good start!


Liberation Theology: Liberation Theology is a movement created within the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America during the 1950s–60s. It arose as a reaction to the poverty caused by social injustice in that region. The Peruvian priest, Gustavo Gutiérrez, coined the term in 1971. The theology interprets the Bible in relation to a freedom from unjust economic, political, and social conditions.

People to Read and Read About: Gustavo Gutiérrez, Óscar Romero,Leonardo Boff, Ignacio Martín-Baró, Samuel Ruiz

Black Liberation Theology: Black Liberation Theology, which has roots in 1960s civil-rights activism and Liberation Theology, draws inspiration and voice from the needs of the marginalized in society, especially the injustice done towards Blacks in the United States. This movement is also incredibly influential in South Africa.

People to Read and Read About: James Cone, Dwight N. Hopkins, Cornel West

Feminist Theology: Feminist Theology is a movement with the intention of reconsidering the traditions, practices, scripture, and theology from a feminist perspective. Some aspirations include: increasing the role of women among religious authority and clergy; reinterpreting the images and language of God to be less male-dominated; and studying the images and interpretations of women in sacred texts and theology.

People to Read and Read About: Rosemary Radford Ruether, Pamela Sue Anderson, Letty Mandeville Russell

Womanist Theology: Womanist Theology reconsiders the practices, traditions, and biblical interpretation with the intent to empower African American women in the United Sates. Womanist Theology is connected with both Feminist and Black Theology, but wants to focus attention to the unique oppressions of black women and women of color that does not get addressed in either previous theologies.

People to Read and Read About: Alice Walker, Katie Cannon, Jacquelyn Grant, Delores Williams, Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas

Dalit Theology: Dalit Theology is a strand of Liberation Theology that has emerged in the Asian theological scene, specifically in India. This theology began to take shape in the early 1980’s with the basic themes of: the concern that Indian Christianity is elitist and ignores Dalits; special concern for the poor and marginalized, specifically the ignored and homogenized Dalit; and the need of a specific Indian theology for the Dalit, by Dalits.

People to Read and Read About: James Massey, Arvind P. Nirmal, Sathianathan Clarke, Kothapalli Wilson, M. E. Prabhakar, Vedanayagam Devasahayam

Neo-Orthodox Theology: Neo-Orthodox Theology is a predominately Protestant movement, developed in Europe after World War I. The influential theology is considered a response against doctrines created in the 19th century by the liberal theology.

People to Read and Read About: Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Reinhold Niebuhr

Queer or Pro-Gay Theology: Queer Theology (also known as “Queer Theory”) approaches the world and holy texts with the lens that gay and lesbian needs have always been present in history. The method is a way of unraveling stories and pre-existent structures that have been oppressive. It is also a way of understanding the Bible as a source of stories about “radical love” that as Patrick Cheng states is, “a love so extreme that it dissolves existing boundaries.”

People to Read and Read About: Marcella Althaus-Reid, Patrick S. Cheng