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Liberation Theology Elliott Wright. Preferential Option for the Poor Liberation theology begins with the poor; it is the Christian duty of the privileged.

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Presentation on theme: "Liberation Theology Elliott Wright. Preferential Option for the Poor Liberation theology begins with the poor; it is the Christian duty of the privileged."— Presentation transcript:

1 Liberation Theology Elliott Wright

2 Preferential Option for the Poor Liberation theology begins with the poor; it is the Christian duty of the privileged to side with the poor in solidarity against oppression Gutierrez argued that the poor were the ‘underside of history’, and that the church must be a ‘church of the poor’; theology must come from ‘the view from below’ Boff brothers provide five motivations for doing so – Theological; in the bible God hears the cries of the poor; we should imitate him by seeking social justice – Christological; as Jesus sided with the marginalised, so must we – Apostolistic; we must also follow the example of the Apostles, who raised money for the poor – Eschatological; on judgement day those who sided with the poor will be saved – Ecclesiological; we should all seek to transform society for the better

3 Hermeneutics The Hermeneutic circle judges the bible in its widest possible context; assessing not only scripturally assisted interpretation, but the position in society of those initiating the interpretation and the resultant action, which in turn results in a new position in society Liberation theologians adopt a hermeneutic of suspicion; challenging norms and values to discover hidden power structures or exploitation, so conscientisation can occur; the realisation of the oppressed that they are subjects, not objects The Book of Exodus is often used in a liberation theology context; Moses commits murder, killing an Egyptian he finds abusing a Jew; a biblical example of supposedly justifiable contraviolence

4 Praxis Praxis (practical action) is necessary to demonstrate our faith; it is not enough to merely discuss matters of oppression, or indeed wait for redemption in the kingdom of God Gutierrez defined first and second act praxis First Act; we must develop a solidarity with the poor, e.g. through pastoral visits, in order to identify their needs

5 Second Act; three mediations – Socioanalytic; assessing context, power structures, the causes of oppression; employing a hermeneutic of suspicion may be necessary – Theological; judges what has been discovered against the divine standard of scripture, ensuring the conclusions that have been made about the poor are in alignment with the values the bible promotes. Pre-theological stages are more important, however – Practical; appropriate action in light of the previous stages; permanent social change is favoured over temporary aid. May entail political, even violent revolution

6 Jesus the Liberator LT maintains that there are three types of sin, all equally important; – Personal; Sin committed by the individual – Social; Wider human patterns of sin, manifested by the actions of particular groups; e.g. business – Structural; Systems or institutions embedded in society that promote a situation of sin; e.g. capitalism Traditionally, Christ is seen as a redeemer whom redeems individuals from personal sin; according to liberation theologians, Christ is seen as a liberator whom enables the redemption of all three types Catholic priests would dismiss the ideas of social and structural sin as they feel all sin is personal, as is salvation

7 Base Communities Born out of a shortage of priests, threat of protestant evangelism, and emerging popularity of the see-judge- act model Local leaders trained to deliver church teachings, promote co responsibility, and ensure the integration of CEBs into networks of other churches/communities Confronted the role of RCC in the continent; they responded by banning all pagan practise. By discussing practises CEBs allowed the poor to understand their spirituality in relation to the church Started at the base as it reminds church to look at all as equals, as Jesus did; Jesus used as a model to reduce prejudice

8 Arguably ‘basic units’; 30 people or less became a true community of friends, reflecting Jesus telling his disciples to see him as friend, not as master. CEBs were not wholly independent from the church CEBs united spiritual and physical needs; as only God can save you, the church cannot, so it is important to focus on the needs in your own life; political, social and spiritual lives are equally important Members come together to have a life review, sharing their concerns (socioanalytical mediation), apply the bible’s passages (hermeneutic mediation) and deal with practical problems (practical mediation)

9 Influence of Marxism Marx believed society is in a state of conflict between the rich and poor. Capitalism perpetuates this conflict by assuring a small minority of society own the forces of production; through these relations of production workers are exploited and alienated as they are separated from the product. This links in with the LT idea that the oppressed are denied full status as human beings, and it is our duty to restore this.

10 The ruling class instil a false consciousness within the proletariat, convincing them that capitalism is normal and fair, creating the illusion of freedom using ideology. Conscientisation and the socioanalytic mediation of second act praxis seek to dispel this. Marx proposes a reversal in society; where the poor majority gain control over the elite minority. This links with the LT idea of a preferential option for the poor, overturning the catholic hierarchy so the ‘base’ may be reconnected with God, while the collegiate nature of the Trinity itself suggests a sanctity of non-hierarchal development

11 Impact of Liberation Theology Have failed to make long term democratic changes; poverty still exists in similar amounts CEBs lost early momentum, partly due to the rise of conservatism in both church authorities and poor religious followers the 70s and 80s; only 1% of parishes in the country had CEBs, though they did make church workers more sensitive to the potential of consensual democratic methods in community life. Arguably, CEBs alienated those who were not poor by excluding them from the religious community. Main successes lie in the solving of smaller issues; e.g., drug rehabilitation, women’s centres, yet these are detached from LT’s central aim of fundamental change

12 Influenced modern theologies – Black theology Promoted contraviolence; ‘black power’ Opposed Christianity as white and middle class; ‘hate the system’ Black people are the oppressed of North America, as the poor are in Latin America – Gay theology It is not clear if homosexuals will go to heaven, but it is clear that the oppressed will – Feminist theology Seeks to advance the equality of men and women morally, socially and spiritually through similar methods

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