Liberation Theology

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Liberation Theology

  1. 1. Liberation Theology
  2. 2. Latin America
  3. 3. LT: a Christian response to economic injustice <ul><li>An intellectual and social movement in Latin America beginning in the 1960s </li></ul><ul><li>Rooted in Christian faith and Scriptures and developed from conscientious members of religious orders. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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? </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>The theologians who formulated liberation theology had close contact with poor communities - didn’t teach in universities and seminaries. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Liberation theology interprets the Bible through the experiences of the poor. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>The poverty of people is largely a product of the way society is organized therefore liberation theology is a &quot;critique of economic structures&quot;. </li></ul><ul><li>Phillip Berryman described the liberation theology in the following terms: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;Liberation theology is: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1. An interpretation of Christian faith out of the suffering, struggle, and hope of the poor; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>2. A critique of society and the ideologies sustaining it (profit, power, pride); </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>3. A critique of the activity of the church and of Christians from the angle of the poor&quot;. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Brief History of Colonial Latin America <ul><li>Spanish Crown (1485-1530) – Golden Age </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ferdinand (Aragon) and Isabella (Castile) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>United kingdoms = new power of Iberian Peninsula/Europe </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reconquista/Crusades – Evangelize the world </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Columbus (1487 – 1506) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Honor, riches, pride (Capitulations of Santa Fe) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Zealot: believed he was the bearer of Christ to heathens </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Treaty of Tordesilla </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pope Alexander VI divide the world between Portugal and Spain </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Conquistadors and Colonization seeking treasure <ul><li>Hernán Cortéz – 1519 enticed by gold, conquered Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) with less than 1000 men in 1521. </li></ul><ul><li>Francisco Pizarro – 1532;168 men (68 horses) conquered the heart of Incan Empire by tricking the Sapa Inca (king). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emperor attempted to buy his freedom by filling a large room with gold and silver – this only fuels the flames of greed for riches. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>European advantages </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Horses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Surprise/naiveté </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Germs </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Role of colonies <ul><li>To enrich the Crown with bullion, raw materials and labor </li></ul><ul><li>“ 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) </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Major colonial sources of wealth <ul><li>Brazil: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>red dye (brazilwood), sugarcane, cotton, coffee, gold and emeralds, cacao, rice, Indian labor </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mexico and Latin America: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>silver, gold, sugar, leather Indian labor </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Role of the Church in the Medieval/Classical worldview <ul><li>God’s Church on Earth –> Roman Catholic Church </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pope was closest to God (hierarchy), was considered authority of God on Earth </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Notion of church-state separation was scarcely conceivable in this time” (Bakewell, p 138, 2004) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kings were faithful and obedient to the pope, tantamount to obedience to God </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kings had the ‘divine right of God’ and appointed bishops in their kingdom </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Function of citizen of kingdom was to be loyal and supportive of king, and thereby God, by being obedient, faithful to position in life. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Consequences of a rigid, hierarchical social/ political/ economic structure, in which the Church and State are intimately intertwined: <ul><li>Leaders of the Church benefit from close relationships with heads of state. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>“ 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.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ 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.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Is the Church fulfilling [its] role when, by its silence or friendly relationships, it lends legitimacy to a dictatorial or oppressive government?” (Gutiérrez, p65) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Economic Development vs Liberation <ul><li>Development was a movement of the 1950s to beat 3 rd world poverty w/ economic policies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IMF, World Bank loans, foreign investment, new technology </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ development consists in increased wealth or, at most, a higher level of well-being” </li></ul><ul><li>“ development is a total social process , which includes economic, social, political, and cultural aspects” </li></ul><ul><li>Development failed to lead poor countries out of economic stagnation and oppressive poverty. </li></ul><ul><li>WHY?? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Failure of economic development in the 1950s – 1960s: <ul><li>“ It has been promoted by international organizations [IMF, World Bank, WTO] closely linked to groups and governments which control the world economy.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The changes encouraged were to be achieved within the formal structure of the existing institutions without challenging them.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ 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.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The so-called changes were often nothing more than new and underhanded ways of increasing the power of strong economic groups.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ 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). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gutiérrez defines the root of evil as being the inherent selfishness of man </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Three interpenetrating levels of liberation <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Liberation as the best of development is within this level of liberation, which includes internal and external liberation of man. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Liberation as man assuming conscious responsibility for his own destiny. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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). </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Role of the Church
  17. 17. Basic Principles of LT
  18. 18. Priority of Praxis over Theory
  19. 19. History as a Focus of Theology
  20. 20. Reading the Bible <ul><li>http://www.socinian.org/files/LiberationTheology.pdf </li></ul>

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