Liberation theology

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Liberation theology is a Christian theological approach emphasizing the liberation of the oppressed. In certain contexts, it engages socio-economic analyses, with "social concern for the poor and political liberation for oppressed peoples". [1] In other contexts, it addresses other forms of inequality, such as race or caste.

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Liberation theology is best known in the Latin American context, [2] especially within Catholicism in the 1960s after the Second Vatican Council, where it became the political praxis of theologians such as Gustavo Gutiérrez, Leonardo Boff, and Jesuits Juan Luis Segundo and Jon Sobrino, who popularized the phrase "preferential option for the poor". This expression was used first by Jesuit Fr. General Pedro Arrupe in 1968 and soon after the World Synod of Catholic Bishops in 1971 chose as its theme "Justice in the World". [3] [4]

The Latin American context also produced Protestant advocates of liberation theology, such as Rubem Alves, [5] [6] José Míguez Bonino, and C. René Padilla, who in the 1970s called for integral mission, emphasizing evangelism and social responsibility.

Theologies of liberation have also developed in other parts of the world such as black theology in the United States and South Africa, Palestinian liberation theology, Dalit theology in India, and Minjung theology in South Korea.

Latin American liberation theology

The best-known form of liberation theology is that which developed within the Catholic Church in Latin America in the 1960s, arising principally as a moral reaction to the poverty and social injustice in the region, which Cepal, deemed the most unequal in the world. [7] The term was coined in 1971 by the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez, who wrote one of the movement's defining books, A Theology of Liberation . Other noted exponents include Leonardo Boff of Brazil, and Jesuits Jon Sobrino of El Salvador and Juan Luis Segundo of Uruguay. [8] [9]

Latin American liberation theology influenced parts of the evangelical movement and Catholic bishops in the United States. [10] Its purported use of "Marxist concepts" led in the mid-1980s to an admonition by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). While stating that "in itself, the expression 'theology of liberation' is a thoroughly valid term", [11] the prefect Cardinal Ratzinger rejected certain forms of Latin American liberation theology for focusing on institutionalized or systemic sin and for identifying Catholic Church hierarchy in South America as members of the same privileged class that had long been oppressing indigenous populations from the arrival of Pizarro onward. [12]

Black theology

More or less at the same time as the initial publications of Latin American liberation theology are also found voices of Black liberation theology and feminist liberation theology. [13] Black theology refers to a theological perspective which originated in some black churches in the United States and later in other parts of the world, which contextualizes Christianity in an attempt to help those of African descent overcome oppression. It especially focuses on the injustices committed against African Americans and black South Africans during American segregation and apartheid, respectively.

Black theology seeks to liberate people of colour from multiple forms of political, social, economic, and religious subjugation and views Christian theology as a theology of liberation – "a rational study of the being of God in the world in light of the existential situation of an oppressed community, relating the forces of liberation to the essence of the Gospel, which is Jesus Christ," writes James Hal Cone, one of the original advocates of the perspective. Black theology mixes Christianity with questions of civil rights, particularly as raised by the Black Power movement and the Black Consciousness Movement.

Dalit theology

Dalit theology is a branch of Christian theology that emerged among the Dalit caste in the Indian subcontinent in the 1980s. It shares a number of themes with Latin American liberation theology, which arose two decades earlier, including a self-identity as a people undergoing Exodus. [14] Dalit theology sees hope in the "Nazareth Manifesto" of Luke 4, [15] where Jesus speaks of preaching "good news to the poor ... freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind" and of releasing "the oppressed". [16]

Palestinian liberation theology

Palestinian liberation theology is an expression of political theology and a contextual theology that represents an attempt by a number of independently working Palestinian theologians from various denominations—mostly Protestant mainline churches—to articulate the gospel message in such a way as to make that liberating gospel relevant to the perceived needs of their indigenous flocks. As a rule, this articulation involves a condemnation of the State of Israel, a theological underpinning of Palestinian resistance to Israel as well as Palestinian national aspirations, and an intense valorization of Palestinian ethnic and cultural identity as guarantors of a truer grasp of the gospel by virtue of the fact that they are inhabitants of the land of Jesus and the Bible. The principal figure in Palestinian liberation theology is the Anglican cleric Naim Ateek, founder of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. [17]

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dalit theology</span> Christian theology concerned with the Dalit caste

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Latin American liberation theology</span> Christian doctrine emphasising the liberation of the oppressed

Latin American liberation theology is a synthesis of Christian theology and Marxian socio-economic analyses, that emphasizes "social concern for the poor and political liberation for oppressed peoples". Beginning in the 1960s after the Second Vatican Council, liberation theology became the political praxis of Latin American theologians such as Gustavo Gutiérrez, Leonardo Boff, and Jesuits Juan Luis Segundo and Jon Sobrino, who popularized the phrase "preferential option for the poor". It arose principally as a moral reaction to the poverty and social injustice in the region, which Cepal, a leftist think tank, deemed the most unequal in the world.

References

  1. Dictionary of Historical Terms (1998), 2nd ed., Chris Cook, ed., p. 203.
  2. Løland, Ole Jakob (July 2021). Usarski, Frank (ed.). "The Solved Conflict: Pope Francis and Liberation Theology" (PDF). International Journal of Latin American Religions. Berlin: Springer Nature. 5 (2): 287–314. doi: 10.1007/s41603-021-00137-3 . eISSN   2509-9965. ISSN   2509-9957. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 9, 2021. Retrieved July 31, 2021.
  3. Dault, Lira (January 22, 2015). "What Is the Preferential Option for the Poor?". U.S. Catholic . 80: 46. Archived from the original on July 10, 2020.
  4. Crosby, Michael (October 17, 2016). "In 1971, the Bishops Sounded a Call for Justice". National Catholic Reporter . Archived from the original on August 3, 2020. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  5. Alves, Rubem A. (1988). Towards a Theology of Liberation. Princeton Theological Seminary. Archived from the original on June 14, 2022. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  6. "Rubem Alves – Liberation Theology Pioneer". Critical Therapy Center. New York, NY. July 21, 2014. Archived from the original on July 21, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  7. Protección social inclusiva en América Latina : una mirada integral, un enfoque de derechos (in Spanish). CEPAL. March 1, 2011. ISBN   978-921054555-6. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  8. Richard P. McBrien, Catholicism (Harper Collins, 1994), chapter IV.
  9. Gustavo Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation, 1st (Spanish) ed. Lima, Peru, 1971; 1st English ed. Orbis Books (Maryknoll, New York), 1973.
  10. Travis Kitchens (June 21, 2010). "Chomsky on Religion". Archived from the original on December 11, 2021. Retrieved October 17, 2017 via YouTube.
  11. "Instruction on certain aspects of the "Theology of Liberation"". Vatican. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  12. Wojda, Paul J., "Liberation theology," in R.P. McBrien, ed., The Catholic Encyclopedia (Harper Collins, 1995).
  13. Vuola, Elina (2005). "Liberation Theology". New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. Archived from the original on September 9, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  14. Rao, Anand (2004). Soteriologies of India and their role in the perception of disability : a comparative transdisciplinary overview with reference to Hinduism and Christianity in India. Berlin-Hamburg-Münster: LIT Verlag. p. 232. ISBN   3-8258-7205-X. OCLC   54973643. Archived from the original on June 14, 2022. Retrieved May 25, 2021.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  15. Luke 4
  16. Schouten, Jan Peter (2008). Jesus as guru : the image of Christ among Hindus and Christians in India. Amsterdam: Rodopi. p. 247. ISBN   978-1-4356-9523-8. OCLC   302001445. Archived from the original on June 14, 2022. Retrieved May 25, 2021.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  17. Ateek, Naim (1989). Radford Reuther, Rosemary (ed.). Justice, and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation (3 ed.). The University of Michigan: Orbis. ISBN   9780883445402. Archived from the original on June 14, 2022. Retrieved April 10, 2021.

Further reading

On Pope John Paul II's relationship to Liberation theology