Karl Marx and Liberation Theology: Dialectical Materialism and Christian Spirituality in, against, and beyond Contemporary Capitalism

  • Peter McLaren Chapman University
  • Petar Jandrić Zagreb University of Applied Sciences
Keywords: critical pedagogy, liberation theology, Karl Marx, Christianity, Jesus Christ, eschaton, socialism, Kingdom of God, individualism, collectivism, freedom


This paper explores convergences and discrepancies between liberation theology and the works of Karl Marx through the dialogue between one of the key contemporary proponents of liberation theology, Peter McLaren, and the agnostic scholar in critical pedagogy, Petar Jandrić. The paper briefly outlines liberation theology and its main convergences with the works of Karl Marx. Exposing striking similarities between the two traditions in denouncing the false God of money, it explores differences in their views towards individualism and collectivism. It rejects shallow rhetorical homologies between Marx and the Bible often found in liberation theology, and suggests a change of focus from seeking a formal or Cartesian logical consistency between Marxism and Christianity to exploring their dialectical consistency. Looking at Marxist and Christian approaches to morality, it outlines close links between historical materialism and questions of value. It concludes that the shared eschaton of Marxism and the Christianity gives meaning to human history and an opportunity to change it.

Author Biographies

Peter McLaren, Chapman University

Peter McLaren is a Distinguished Professor in Critical Studies at Chapman University, USA, where he is Co-Director of the Paulo Freire Democratic Project. Professor McLaren is the au- thor and editor of nearly 50 books and hundreds of professional publications on education and social justice. His writings have been translated into over 20 languages. One of Professor McLaren’s recent awards includes the Outstanding Educator in America Award presented to him by the Association of Educators of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Petar Jandrić, Zagreb University of Applied Sciences

Petar Jandrić is a Professor in Digital Learning and Programme Director of BSc (Informatics) at the Zagreb University of Applied Sciences (Croatia), and visiting Associate Professor at the University of Zagreb (Croatia). His research is focused to trans-disciplinary collaborations at the intersections between critical pedagogy and digital cultures. Petar published six books, dozens of scholarly articles and chapters, and numerous popular articles. His writings have been published in several languages.

Karl Marx @ 200: Debating Capitalism & Perspectives for the Future of Radical Theory