I have found myself in some wonderful conversations lately with some wonderful friends and the topic of libertion theology has come up. I really like liberation theology. In fact I would have to say it is a theology that I have felt most comfortable adn passionate about probably ever but I realised that I had forgotton many of things that I read when I was researching it. Also that I was having trouble articulating it as the research I did was in Spanish and I wasn’t really able to translate it. So I read some more things on the internet and will put some of it here for the people that I couldn’t really explain it to and for anyone else who is interested cause I think it is good. It may be a little controversial which I am little nervouse about but well I think I will do it anyway.
“Liberation theology, a term first used in 1973 by Gustavo Gutierrez, a Peruvian Roman Catholic priest, is a school of thought among Latin American Catholics according to which the Gospel of Christ demands that the church concentrate its efforts on liberating the people of the world from poverty and oppression.
Liberation theologians believe that the orthodox doctrine of God tends to manipulate God in favor of the capitalistic social structure. They claim that orthodoxy has been dependent upon ancient Greek notions of God that perceived God as a static being who is distant and remote from human history. These distorted notions of God’s transcendence and majesty have resulted in a theology which thinks of God as “up there” or “out there.” Consequently the majority of Latin Americans have become passive in the face of injustice and superstitious in their religiosity. Liberation theology responds by stressing the incomprehensible mysteriousness of the reality of God. God cannot be summarized in objectifying language or known through a list of doctrines. God is found in the course of human history. God is not a perfect, immutable entity, “squatting outside the world.” He stands before us on the frontier of the historical future (Assmann). God is the driving force of history causing the Christian to experience transcendence as a “permanent cultural revolution” (Gutierrez). Suffering and pain become the motivating force for knowing God. The God of the future is the crucified God who submerges himself in a world of misery. God is found on the crosses of the oppressed rather than in beauty, power, or wisdom.
The biblical notion of salvation is equated with the process of liberation from oppression and injustice. Sin is defined in terms of man’s inhumanity to man. Liberation theology for all practical purposes equates loving your neighbor with loving God. The two are not only inseparable but virtually indistinguishable. God is found in our neighbor and salvation is identified with the history of “man becoming.” The history of salvation becomes the salvation of history embracing the entire process of humanization. Biblical history is important insofar as it models and illustrates this quest for justice and human dignity. Israel’s liberation from Egypt in the Exodus and Jesus’ life and death stand out as the prototypes for the contemporary human struggle for liberation. These biblical events signify the spiritual significance of secular struggle for liberation.
The church and the world can no longer be segregated. The church must allow itself to be inhabited and evangelized by the world. “A theology of the Church in the world should be complemented by a theology of the world in the Church” (Gutierrez). Joining in solidarity with the oppressed against the oppressors is an act of “conversion,” and “evangelization” is announcing God’s participation in the human struggle for justice.
The importance of Jesus for liberation theology lies in his exemplary struggle for the poor and the outcast. His teaching and action on behalf of the kingdom of God demonstrate the love of God in a historical situation that bears striking similarity to the Latin American context. The meaning of the incarnation is reinterpreted. Jesus is not God in an ontological or metaphysical sense. Essentialism is replaced with the notion of Jesus’ relational significance. Jesus shows us the way to God; he reveals the way one becomes the son of God. The meaning of Jesus’ incarnation is found in his total immersion in a historical situation of conflict and oppression. His life absolutizes the values of the kingdom, unconditional love, universal forgiveness, and continual reference to the mystery of the Father. But it is impossible to do exactly what Jesus did simply because his specific teaching was oriented to a particular historical period. On one level Jesus irreversibly belongs to the past, but on another level Jesus is the zenith of the evolutionary process. In Jesus history reaches its goal. However, following Jesus is not a matter of retracing his path, trying to adhere to his moral and ethical conduct, as much as it is re-creating his path by becoming open to his “dangerous memory” which calls our path into question. The uniqueness of Jesus’ cross lies not in the fact that God, at a particular point in space and time, experienced the suffering intrinsic to man’s sinfulness in order to provide a way of redemption. Jesus’ death is not a vicarious offering on behalf of mankind who deserve God’s wrath. Jesus’ death is unique because he historicizes in exemplary fashion the suffering experienced by God in all the crosses of the oppressed. Liberation theology holds that through Jesus’ life people are brought to the liberating conviction that God does not remain outside of history indifferent to the present course of evil events but that he reveals himself through the authentic medium of the poor and oppressed.”
There are some things in this that I struggle with just as there are some things in more traditional teologies that I struggle with but most of it excites me and inspires me. Especially as someone who hopes to livee and understand more the often radical spirituality of Latin America especially Peru.