DISCUSS THE VIEW THAT A THEOLOGY OF LIBERATION IS THE ONLY RELAVANT FORM OF A THEOLOGY OF HOPE TODAY
In today's society, it is abundantly clear that a theology of liberation is the only relevant form of a theology of hope today. Life in the twenty first century is a confusing time where politics and religion are evermore intertwined. Wars are anticipated more than ever before and the divides in communities are expanding even further. As these pressures are amounting, it seems that a theology in which values and empowers humans is the most relevant for today. This has proven to be evident in the past fifty as there has been a formulation of three separate liberation theologies As Rhodes (I.S.1) states:
Strictly speaking, liberation theology should be understood as a family of theologies - including the Latin American, Black, and feminist varieties. All three respond to some form of oppression: Latin American liberation theologians say their poverty-stricken people have been oppressed and exploited by rich, capitalist nations. Black liberation theologians argue that their people have suffered oppression at the hands of racist whites. Feminist liberation theologians lay heavy emphasis upon the status and liberation of women in a male-dominated society.
A main argument comes from one of the main components in the cause of Black Theology, James Cone. Cone perceived theology as a study of God in an oppressed community that relates Jesus Christ to liberation. Cone's view is an expansion of theology's meaning, deriving from Greek. (theo meaning God and logo meaning the study of.) This concept of Black Theology is inclusive of Cone's concept of theology. In spite of the racial connotations which are only inclusive of black people, Cone further develops this idea. Black is not only meant in the physical sense, it is also defined as either having an attitude or acting in support of black liberation. For Cone, liberation from white oppression was the only relevant hope for equality in society.
Also, Black Theology's use of biblical text provides a strong, religious argument in the cause of emancipating the oppressed black people. The main passage that is used in Black theological cause is found in Exodus, where God freed the oppressed Israelites from the reign of their Egyptian slave masters. Passages such as these remind us that God interacts with human life (especially when under oppression of the fellow man.) Black Theology's cause is also supported by Acts 17:26 where it says "He made from one all the nations of mankind to live on all the face of the earth." The Bible teaches Christians that there is only one race --the human race-- regardless of size, shape or colour. This use of biblical knowledge theology shows a strong religious perspective in support Black Theology which encourages hope through liberation.
Black Theology's themes of hope and liberation had opened up the eyes of black and white people. It had focused the need of Christians to reach out to God's suffering children. There are various passages in the New Testament which have an ideology of equality in Christ's eyes (Galatians 3:27) and the main purpose of Jesus dying for our salvation regardless of race. These kind of passages help emphasise the Gospel's values of peace and equality (the main ideology in Martin Luther King's Civil Rights Movement). In the eyes of our God, we are all his people (black, white, Indian, Latino, oriental etc.) As Christians, we must be aware that the black people were suffering and through Black Theology, it has provided not only the liberation for black people, but freed white people from racial discrimination and non - Christian conduct.
Another theology of liberation grew in Latin America during the 1960s. Boff and Boff (I.S.2.) describe the social situation that led to the movement:
The populist governments of the 1950s and 1960s -- especially those of Perón in Argentina, Vargas in Brazil, and Cárdenas in Mexico -- inspired nationalistic consciousness and significant industrial development in the shape of import substitution. This benefited the middle classes and urban proletariat but threw huge sectors of the peasantry into deeper rural marginalization or sprawling urban shantytowns.
As the Latin American society developed, it was the great majorities (proletariats) of these countries that immensely suffered. The result of this led to the creation of the liberational movements seeking major changes in the social and economical stature of their respective countries. However, it was until the late 1960s that the church in Latin America gave any hope to the plight of Liberation Theology through the documents of two conferences. Firstly, there was the Consejo Episcopal Latino Americano (CELAM) held at Medellín, Colombia in 1968. This conference at Medellín asserted the church would make a preferential option for the poor and this was the first hope of liberation. Following this conference was the one held at Puebla, Mexico in 1979. The Pope praises the changes and work done since Medellín. The Puebla conference was held by Pope John Paul II who critiqued Liberation Theology. He felt that the gospel had been re-read and misinterpreted too many times and misinterpretations segregate the kingdom of God from the church. He praised the work of Latin American but not the goals of Liberation Theology as they were too political.
Lastly, there was Feminist Theology which sought to value and empower women. It also sought to challenge their religious tradition and its value for them in their present culture. As de Beauvoir (1949: pg 685) says, 'The body is not enough to define her as a woman; there is no true living reality, except as manifested the conscious individual through activities and in the bosom of a society.' Feminist Theology is an exclusive theology, solely pertaining the needs and hopes of women. Ultimately, this conflicts with scholar such as Rudy (1997: pg 43) who argue that:
The Right believes that the only way to have a relationship with God is through gender; in doing so, it dismisses concerns about material oppression and reinterprets women's role as mother and housewife as natural fulfilling, even liberating...
Not only did Feminist Theology come under fire with scholars, it also has religious repercussions. According to Pope John Paul II, any theology that has Christ at the epicentre is acceptable. The church doesn't support any exclusive theology, which already conflicted with female liberation. Despite this, the Pope (I.S.3) did:
'give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the 'mystery of woman' and for every woman-for all that constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for the 'great works of God', which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through her.'
Whilst it was a liberation theology, it only provided hope for an exclusive and limited part of society for political rather than religious gain.
Overall a theology of liberation is the only relevant form of a theology of hope today. It can also provide as a sanctuary of peace and comfort, providing hope and joy in the kindness of God. Regardless, biblical eclecticism can also be used for political and personal satisfaction through misunderstanding the moral of the stories. Some people use texts (like Luke and Matthew) to present their own perspective on biblical accounts. Furthermore, passages can be weaved and manipulated to present a warped and tarnished account of true events. These are then presented as a basis for a certain standpoint that does not account for their true meaning, but for what someone wants them to believe. As Galatians 1:8 says 'But should anyone, even I myself preach a gospel other than the gospel you received, let him be banned!'