I consider in this paper the question of balance in transformative popular education between what we can call annunciation and denunciation, inspired by the work of Paulo Freire. By annunciation, I mean the role of love, affirmation, encouragement and profound encounters with otherness; by denunciation I have in mind the spirit of critique and challenge to the established order of things. In the process I question the marginalisation of liberation theology in Paulo Freire’s work, among various scholars. There has, I suggest, been a sundering of spirituality, and above all religious perspectives from rational enquiry in the academic mainstream, which has negatively affected readings of Freire and other, historically important transformative adult educators. Modernity has privileged intellectualism and critical rationality as the only valid way of knowing; matters of faith and varieties of religious experience can correspondingly be made marginal or even privatised altogether, a matter of individual eccentricity rather than a subject for serious study.