Liberation Theology
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Liberation Theology






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    Liberation Theology Liberation Theology Presentation Transcript

    • Liberation Theology
    • Latin America
    • LT: a Christian response to economic injustice
      • An intellectual and social movement in Latin America beginning in the 1960s
      • Rooted in Christian faith and Scriptures and developed from conscientious members of religious orders.
      • Members of the religious orders are committed to the vow of poverty and do not own property individually, nevertheless they enjoy a standard of living and security that separates them from the daily agony of the poor.
      • The question then arose for some of them: what is the ‘ideal of poverty’ in a situation where most are suffering dehumanizing poverty, and what should the Church and Christians do about it?
      • The theologians who formulated liberation theology had close contact with poor communities - didn’t teach in universities and seminaries.
      • Since they spend much time working directly with the poor themselves, the questions they deal with arise out of their direct contact with the poor.
      • Liberation theology interprets the Bible through the experiences of the poor.
      • It deals with Jesus's life and message: The poor learn to read the Scripture in a way that affirms their dignity and self worth and their right to struggle together for a more decent life.
      • The poverty of people is largely a product of the way society is organized therefore liberation theology is a "critique of economic structures".
      • Phillip Berryman described the liberation theology in the following terms:
        • "Liberation theology is:
          • 1. An interpretation of Christian faith out of the suffering, struggle, and hope of the poor;
          • 2. A critique of society and the ideologies sustaining it (profit, power, pride);
          • 3. A critique of the activity of the church and of Christians from the angle of the poor".
    • Brief History of Colonial Latin America
      • Spanish Crown (1485-1530) – Golden Age
        • Ferdinand (Aragon) and Isabella (Castile)
          • United kingdoms = new power of Iberian Peninsula/Europe
          • Reconquista/Crusades – Evangelize the world
          • Columbus (1487 – 1506)
            • Honor, riches, pride (Capitulations of Santa Fe)
            • Zealot: believed he was the bearer of Christ to heathens
        • Treaty of Tordesilla
          • Pope Alexander VI divide the world between Portugal and Spain
    • Conquistadors and Colonization seeking treasure
      • Hernán Cortéz – 1519 enticed by gold, conquered Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) with less than 1000 men in 1521.
      • Francisco Pizarro – 1532;168 men (68 horses) conquered the heart of Incan Empire by tricking the Sapa Inca (king).
        • Emperor attempted to buy his freedom by filling a large room with gold and silver – this only fuels the flames of greed for riches.
      • European advantages
        • Horses
        • Guns
        • Surprise/naiveté
        • Germs
    • Role of colonies
      • To enrich the Crown with bullion, raw materials and labor
      • “ The colonies' central purpose was to serve the interests of the metropolis [Crown] by producing raw materials needed to manufacture in the home country, and then by providing a market for what was made” (Bakewell, 2004, p.368)
      • Mercantile system of a kingdom created monopolies that provided raw materials to the homeland. Monopolies ensured the Crown got their slice of the wealth (taxation). Over-taxation, inefficiency in production, high prices to colonies.
    • Major colonial sources of wealth
      • Brazil:
        • red dye (brazilwood), sugarcane, cotton, coffee, gold and emeralds, cacao, rice, Indian labor
      • Mexico and Latin America:
        • silver, gold, sugar, leather Indian labor
    • Role of the Church in the Medieval/Classical worldview
      • God’s Church on Earth –> Roman Catholic Church
        • Pope was closest to God (hierarchy), was considered authority of God on Earth
      • “ Notion of church-state separation was scarcely conceivable in this time” (Bakewell, p 138, 2004)
        • Kings were faithful and obedient to the pope, tantamount to obedience to God
        • Kings had the ‘divine right of God’ and appointed bishops in their kingdom
      • Function of citizen of kingdom was to be loyal and supportive of king, and thereby God, by being obedient, faithful to position in life.
    • Consequences of a rigid, hierarchical social/ political/ economic structure, in which the Church and State are intimately intertwined:
      • Leaders of the Church benefit from close relationships with heads of state.
        • Church leaders do not advocate for change of this structure, that is, a more equal distribution of power/resources that would benefit the poor , because this would threaten their privileged position in society.
      • “ People are keenly and painfully aware that a large part of the Church is in one way or another linked to those who wield economic and political power in today’s world.”
      • “ This applies to its position in the opulent and oppressive countries as well as in the poor countries, as in Latin America, where it is tied to the exploiting classes.”
      • “ Is the Church fulfilling [its] role when, by its silence or friendly relationships, it lends legitimacy to a dictatorial or oppressive government?” (Gutiérrez, p65)
    • Economic Development vs Liberation
      • Development was a movement of the 1950s to beat 3 rd world poverty w/ economic policies
        • IMF, World Bank loans, foreign investment, new technology
      • “ development consists in increased wealth or, at most, a higher level of well-being”
      • “ development is a total social process , which includes economic, social, political, and cultural aspects”
      • Development failed to lead poor countries out of economic stagnation and oppressive poverty.
      • WHY??
    • Failure of economic development in the 1950s – 1960s:
      • “ It has been promoted by international organizations [IMF, World Bank, WTO] closely linked to groups and governments which control the world economy.”
      • “ The changes encouraged were to be achieved within the formal structure of the existing institutions without challenging them.”
      • “ Great care was exercised not to attack the interests of large international economic powers nor those of their natural allies, the ruling domestic interests groups.”
      • “ The so-called changes were often nothing more than new and underhanded ways of increasing the power of strong economic groups.”
      • “ Since supporters of development did not attack the roots of evil , they failed [to cause true growth] and caused instead confusion and frustration” (Gutiérrez, p26).
        • Gutiérrez defines the root of evil as being the inherent selfishness of man
    • Three interpenetrating levels of liberation
      • Liberation expresses the economic, social and political aspirations of oppressed peoples and social classes that put them at odds with wealthy nations and oppressive classes.
        • Liberation as the best of development is within this level of liberation, which includes internal and external liberation of man.
        • Liberation as man assuming conscious responsibility for his own destiny.
        • Liberation from a theological perspective: Christ is the one who liberates us, from sin, from sinful structures, which is the ultimate root of all disruption of friendship and of all injustice and oppression” (Gutiérrez, 36-37).
    • Role of the Church
    • Basic Principles of LT
    • Priority of Praxis over Theory
    • History as a Focus of Theology
    • Reading the Bible