Spirit Strategies for Informed Decisions Research Paper

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God's taking sides can be pushed to saying that the rich cannot be saved, or that God does not love everyone.

The Holy Spirit and Liberation Theology

As Boff and Boff ( 1987) state: "Every true theology springs from a spirituality -- that is, from a true meeting with God in history. Liberation theology was born when faith confronted the injustice done to the poor."

In this sense the Spirit is essentially perceived in terms of the interconnection between humanity and God. Put less blatantly, the Holy Spirit is the conduit of the absolute or divine to the domain of human existential experience. This view of the Spirit resonates with the focus on experiential suffering in the world. In other words, the Holy Spirit is not abstract but is rather perceived as a spiritual source of intervention in the world, which coincides with the focus of liberation theology.

The issue of the role and place of the Holy Spirit is one that is controversial in the modern history of Christianity. There is a great deal of debate as to modern neglect of the primary role of the Holy Spirit. While it is not possible to provide even a brief overview of this issue within the limits of this paper, the following is intended as an outline of some of the main issues as they relate to the topic of liberation theology.

On the subject of pneumatology, Jurgen Moltmann has stated that, "[f]rom the very beginning, the personhood of the Holy Spirit was an unsolved problem, and the problem is as difficult as it is fascinating."

This remark refers to the view that the Holy Spirit has not been correctly understood or interpreted in much of modern theological discourse. Aside from the often complex and convoluted theoretical arguments in this regard, a central point is that in liberation theology the Spirit is understood in a postmodern context, which emphasizes its role and relationship in terms of the effective transmission of divine compassion to those who are oppressed, suffering and disenfranchised -- which is a view that many claim is in accordance with the message brought by Christ to mankind.

There is also the view that the category of the Spirit of has been degraded by modern materialism and rationalism -- which were the forces that have also been cited for the suffering of the poor and oppressed. As Kim (2008 ) states;

Under the influence of modern rationalism and materialism, the category of spirit -- well-recognized in traditional societies -- underwent a sustained onslaught, such that the term became meaningless to many in Western societies. Popular use was relegated -- along with the word "ghost" -- to the realms of the psychological and the paranormal.

Spirit in other words has become a term or category that has been assimilated into modern popular culture to sell commodities and has therefore lost its initial religious significance.

As Kim goes on to argue: "In such a climate, the biblical term "Holy Spirit" is divested of its profound scriptural meanings; it has lost its cosmic dimensions, and its connection with God the Father and Jesus Christ is very unclear.

In liberation theology the marginalization of the Third World is linked to the marginalization of the Third Person of the Trinity.

The argument is put forward that the focus in the Trinity has been on God the Son, and usually as an historical figure, with the relegation of the Holy Spirit to virtual obscurity. This has led to the search for a "…new paradigm of the Holy Spirit in the context of globalization and post-modernity."

This sentient is aligned with the aims of liberation theology and the Holy Spirit. In other words, the essential point that is being made is that the neglect of the Holy Spirit is seen in the same light as the neglect of the poor and disenfranchised people of the earth. The Spirit therefore is understood as a vital element in a theology that is concerned with the liberation and salvation of those who have been neglected in the progress of the history of modern materialism.

The link between liberation theology and the revelation of the importance of the Holy Spirit can be seen in the following quotation.

These discussions suggest that the development of pneumatology in the contemporary West will be less concerned about the essence and divine origin of the Spirit and more about the Spirit's mission in and to the world. The interest today is not so much in philosophy as in the practical questions of how and where the Spirit is to be discerned.

In essence and from a biblical perspective, the term Holy Spirit refers to the breath or wind of God and His presence and activity in the world. This in turn refers to the view that the Spirit is "…without a face and almost without a name. He is the wind who is not seen, but who makes things move. He is known by his effects."

This implies that the Holy Spirit is associated with movement, development and progress towards a better and more equable future for mankind.

From the perspective of liberation theology the Holy Spirit is understood as "Father of the poor," and is continually present in the struggles of the oppressed. The Holy Spirit is seen as an active spiritual agent that has come to complete the divine work of the liberation and redemption of mankind initiated by Christ. The action of the Holy Spirit on a personal level is described as follows.

The Spirit takes hold of persons, fills them with enthusiasm, endows them with special charisms and abilities to change religion and society, break open rigid institutions and make things new. The Spirit presides over the religious experience of peoples, not allowing them to forget the dimension of eternity or succumb to the appeals of the flesh.

In this sense the Holy Spirit participates in and is an integral part of the struggle of the poor towards salvation the social as well as the spiritual plane. The Holy Spirit is the conduit to the divine that sustains and protects them in their struggle for survival.


A number of central aspects emerge from above discussion and analysis of the literature. The first is that the nature of liberation theology is characterized by an intense awareness of the time in which we live and the social reality that faces millions of impoverished and oppressed people in the modern world. Liberation theology is not an idealistic or abstract theology but one which is intimately concerned and involved with the realities of the contemporary world and especially with those who suffer from poverty, oppression and other social injustices and inequalities.

Secondly, the perception of the Holy Spirit as a divine conduit that enables and facilitates the struggle for liberation from the bonds of oppression and poverty is also as central feature of this theology. The centrality of the Holy Spirit in this view of spiritual reality manifests itself in the view of the Spirit as the Father who helps and guides his people towards a new future. This leads a third aspect that stands out in this discussion; namely, the role of the Holy Spirit.

The role of the Holy Spirit is seen is the sense of social liberation "…within the larger framework of integral -- human and divine -- liberation."

In essence the Holy Spirit facilitates liberation in the historical present that is part of the process towards the overall liberation of mankind. In other words, liberation theology "…contrasts political liberation and Christian liberation, and identifies a subsidiary relationship between them: the former is one aspect of the latter."

The Holy Spirit therefore becomes the central and active element in the process of liberation theology.

In conclusion it should be emphasized that the role of the Holy Spirit in liberation theology has a future orientated historical trajectory. The message of liberation theology is that "… today the history of faith is embarking on its third great period, the period of construction."

This period of construction is seen as an area of protest and opposition to the status quo, which has echoes of the function of the early Christian Church. The envisaged end result of this vision of theology is a reformed word which is in conjunction and alignment with divine will. In liberation theology, this vision can only be achieved through the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit.


Bevans, Stephen B. "God Inside Out: toward a Missionary Theology of the Holy Spirit." International Bulletin of Missionary Research, July 1998, 102+. Database online. Available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5044789310. Internet. Accessed 5 May 2012.

Boff, Leonardo, and Clodovis Boff. Introducing Liberation Theology / . Translated by Burns, Paul. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1987. Book online. Available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=102085664. Internet. Accessed 5 May 2012.

Clooney, Francis X. "No Longer the Same: Religious Others and the Liberation of Christian Theology." Theological Studies 72, no. 4 (2011): 883+. Database online. Available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5051896506. Internet.…[continue]

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