Sunday, January 3, 2010

Liberation Theology

In response to the post on Avatar, I received the following question:
...tell me more about liberation theology, I'm curious...What it IS... you know... not what it has led to... and, what do Catholics think about the Bible?
To the last: um...we're in favor?

More seriously: The Bible is the product of the incarnational nature of God's interaction with humanity. That is, God speaks through the product of human labors, language, and culture, covering an array of genres, literary devices, and interpretive layers. The human authors are true authors, but God's inspiration adds an massive depth beyond anything the human authors knew or intended.

Such a means of interpreting the Bible is evidenced by Christ with the men on the road to Emmaus, when he shows them how the Scriptures of the Jews all point to him, or by Paul, when he speaks of Christ as the new Adam and interprets the Old Testament as indicating Christ throughout, or by the Gospel writers, when they reference passages of the Jewish Scriptures in order to demonstrate the promised coming of Christ.

There is, of course, much more to be said. If you want a really good one book summary, take your pick between Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth, Mark Shea's Making Senses out of Scripture, or Scott Hahn's A Father Who Keeps His Promises.

Liberation theology is an attempt to take the philosophy/ideology of Marx and his intellectual heirs and enflesh it into Christianity. The effort demands the redefinition of a great many Christian terms, such that a liberation theologian may profess the same creed I do and yet believe something very different.

Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a model example of this labor put into practice (or "praxis"). He offers a theoretical framework for education, designed to "raise the consciousness" of the students regarding their oppressed status, or to their status as oppressors. The goal is to get the oppressors to turn upon their own "class" (i.e., betray family, friends, culture, faith, etc.--anything part of the socially constructed oppressor class) in order to aid the oppressed in their struggle for the absolute overthrow and eradication of the oppressor class, who may be enslaved or exterminated.

Since the oppressed behave violently only because of their oppression, any acts of violence or vengeance they work is the fault of the oppressor. They are free from fault--blamelessly able to work any atrocity and eradicate any foe in their relentless pursuit of revenge.

Liberation theology, then, means liberation from all restraints. Marx has no room for Christian forgiveness. Nor the supernatural, really, rendering the promise of ultimate justice undertaken by God (which then renders revenge unneccessary and frees one from the dread of justice never being done if not achieved in this life) a pipe dream, suitable only to keeping down the poor and oppressed--the "people of God".

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