Monday, June 02, 2008

What is liberation theology?

Tony Campolo offers a helpful answer to that question here:
Tony Campolo
What is Liberation Theology?

With all the upset over Jeremiah Wright and his so-called Liberation Theology, many have been asking what Liberation Theology is all about. Well, it is not very complicated! It is the simple belief that in the struggles of poor and oppressed people against their powerful and rich oppressors, God sides with the oppressed against the oppressors.

Those who adhere to Liberation Theology point out that all through the Bible we find that God always champions the cause of those who are poor and beaten down as they struggle for dignity, freedom and economic justice. When the children of Israel cry out for help as they suffer the agonies of their enslavement under Pharaoh, God hears their cry and joins them in their fight for freedom. God sides with the Jews as they seek deliverance from Egyptian domination.
Read the rest of the article here.

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At Monday, June 2, 2008 at 5:42:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this angry, American version of Liberation Theology common throughout the Caribbean? I spent a couple of months in Cite Soleil on business a few years back and never saw anyone as upset with their circumstances as the Reverend Wright appears to be with his. Of course, I might not have been looking in the right places.

At Monday, June 2, 2008 at 8:32:00 PM EST , Blogger haitianministries said...


First of all, it is best to think of liberation theologies in the plural rather than as a single monolithic liberation theology. Here in the Caribbean, liberation theologies tend to focus more on issues of neo-colonialism rather than the types of racial issues seen in Rev. Wright's theology. So it is different in content and, often, style as well.

Secondly, while liberation theologies (or Caribbean theology as it's more commonly referred to here) have certainly had a significant impact, socially and politically, in Latin America and the Caribbean, my experience--especially in the Caribbean--is that Pentecostalism has been much more effective in attracting the masses and Caribbean theology tends to have few adherents outside of academic circles. (Which could probably be said for Black theology in the U.S. as well).

Thirdly, to answer your question: Caribbean theology is NOT "Americanized." Indeed, if anything, it is generally a reaction to the over-Americanization or neocolonialism so prevalent in the Caribbean. As for "angry," well, that depends. Back when Jean-Bertrand Aristide was a parish priest in Haiti during the 1980s, his preaching would probably have been just as offensive and "angry" sounding to the average white American listener as Jeremiah Wright's preaching is today. Elsewhere in the Caribbean and, perhaps even today in Haiti, such rhetoric would probably not be received the same way.

Here in the Bahamas, for example, where the history of slavery and race relations is quite different than that of the States, preaching such as Wright's would probably turn a lot of people off and not draw much in the way of a crowd.

That being said, even if Caribbean theology may not sound as "angry" here, its major themes of God championing the cause of the poor and downtrodden (whoever they may be) still parallel those seen in liberation theologies from other parts of the globe. The difference would be that here the emphasis tends to be more the legacy of colonialism rather than other types of -isms such as sexism, racism, and so forth.

At Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 12:09:00 PM EST , Blogger Tauratinzwe said...

To the extent that Liberation Theologies are theologies, they are Biblical. To the extent that they are not Biblical, they are just like all the other "theologies" found in so many churches in the U.S.A. and other parts of the world. We seem to fashion our theologies to fit our own ideologies and cultures. A friend of mine spoke of making an astounding discovery in his Christian journey, he discovered that God is not American.

God in the Bible always seems to be striving to redeem His creation, which is enslaved to Sin. That enslavement tends to express itself in injustice, selfishment and exploitation and oppression of the powerless.

When "liberation theologies" join in seeking to exploit others and promote hatred and revenge, they cease to represent either liberation or theology.

At Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 4:58:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Illuminating response. Thank you. BTW, I've no problem with angry prophets. Sometimes peace and quiet don't get the point across.:)

At Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 8:23:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This definition is simple and easy to memorize.


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