Moving to a Liberation Theology People ask me all of the time if I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Of course I believe Jesus is the Son of God; and I also believe that I am the son of God, as we ALL are children of God.
The traditional doctrines of Salvation and the Holy Spirit can be viewed differently when approached from the perspective of Liberation Theology. The theological position of the liberation theology is that social justice and the liberation from oppression is the key to executing the philosophy and teachings of Christ on Earth. According to Juan Luis Segundo in The Liberation of Theology, the central premise of Christianity is liberation: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Trinity must all be understood in the light of liberation. As Segundo states, “Adam communicated sin and death to all human beings. Christ communicated justice and life to all….[Christ’s] communication of life and justification outdid Adam’s communication of sin and death.”[footnoteRef:2] In other words, Christ liberated mankind from the wages of sin, and those who call themselves Christians should engage in demonstrating this liberation by advocating for social justice and the end of oppression. Salvation is thus reinterpreted in liberation theology in terms of the extent to which social justice is achieved for people here on Earth. The Holy Spirit is reinterpreted to be seen as a guiding spirit for justice and equality—the motivating force for ending oppression and inequality. This paper will summarize developments seen by moving to a liberation theology from the original thoughts of the four doctrines expressed below. [2: Juan Luis Segundo, Liberation of Theology (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002), 211.]
Original Thoughts on the Four Doctrines
My original thoughts on the four doctrines of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Trinity are comprised of the following definitions, which serve as the starting point in my movement towards Liberation Theology. Of these four doctrines, the main two that I will focus on are salvation and the Holy Spirit.
God is the beginning and the end—the Alpha and the Omega: the ultimate Divine—the essence of all that is. God is neither male nor female, because these are genders of the human species, but God is a spirit: God IS—“I AM Who Am.”[footnoteRef:3] God is the Great protector and the Great destroyer—a concept that is found in the Hindu religion as well with Shiva being the creator and destroyer, the spirit in whom opposites meet.[footnoteRef:4] God is eternal. God is also internal and is the loudest voice I hear in the morning and the softest voice I hear at night. God is the blue moon beams shining down on my morning meditation. God is the radiant sun lighting my way throughout the day. God is my best friend yet is in my worst enemy. God is free from lateral comparisons. God is failure. God is suffering. God is with me. God is the supreme soul I desire. [3: Ex 3:14] [4: “Religions,” BBC, 2003. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/beliefs/intro_1.shtml]
Jesus is the way the truth and the light.[footnoteRef:5] I cannot access redemption and grace except through him…although I am having doubts about this holding true to all. The more I am looking and exploring world religions the more I am seeing each as a pathway to the ultimate result which is God. Jesus directs me, in a language that I understand, on a path which will lead to the same place that the Jews, Muslim, many Hindu, Buddhists, and other religious sects ultimately seek. I believe that too many people in ALL religions concentrate too much on the path and not enough on the destination. This perspective on Jesus is not far from the perspective of the liberation theologians who view Jesus as a source of revelation for a particular people. [5: John 14:6]
The Holy Spirit is the eternal force of God permeating all existence. The feeling I feel in my gut when things go right and when things go wrong—this is the communication of the Holy Spirit, Who is God. The Holy Spirit exists to teach us new methods of talking, of feeling, of seeing, and of believing so that we can achieve the ...
Approaching Liberation Theology from the Doctrines of Salvation and the Holy Spirit
What bothers me is this idea that GOD is this old white man sitting on a cloud issuing grace, weeping for me, and eternally mad and vengeful. God IS—as has been stated in Exodus 3:14: When Moses asked for God’s name the answer was and still is I AM THAT, I AM. God is everywhere, in everything. God is inside of each one of us. With this in mind, it is not a far step to seeing how liberation theology can be applied to these doctrines—in particularly to the doctrines of Salvation and the Holy Spirit. In moving from these concepts and doctrines, the ideas of the theology of liberation can be felt and seen and understood in an easy manner, as shall now be explained.
As Kenneth Leech points out, Segundo’s view of liberation theology is that it deals in methodology rather than in content.[footnoteRef:6] Segundo “has little time for the academic theology of the ‘death of God’ school: the problem, as he sees it, is not the death of God but the death of the theologian, his interpreter. The choice is in fact between two views of theology: theology as an academic profession, versus theology as a revolutionary activity.”[footnoteRef:7] According to Segundo, Christ is a revolution—a revolution over oppression, over the evilness of the enemy of God who seeks to oppress people and hold them down in abject misery. Segundo looks to Latin America and shows that there liberation theology has “rediscovered an essential feature of Christian theology by applying the teachings of justice and equality to the political realm: “Jesus seems to go so far as to suggest that one cannot recognize Christ, and therefore come to know God, unless he or she is willing to start with a personal commitment to the oppressed.”[footnoteRef:8] Just as Christ united Himself to the suffering people of his time and place, today’s Christians are expected to do the same under the teaching of liberation theology. The aim is to ease their suffering and to oppose the oppression that keeps them down. [6: Kenneth Leech, “Liberating Theology: The Thought of Juan Luis Segundo,” Theology, 84, 700 (1981), 258.] [7: Kenneth Leech, “Liberating Theology: The Thought of Juan Luis Segundo,” Theology, 84, 700 (1981), 258.] [8: Juan Luis Segundo, Liberation of Theology (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002), 81.]
On the doctrine of salvation, the theology of liberation holds that “the longstanding stress on individual salvation in the next world represents a distortion of Jesus’ message.”[footnoteRef:9] The real message and mission of Christ was just begun with His time on Earth: the Church was tasked with going forth and teaching to all people the message of Christ, and in this sense, the mission of Christ is a historical one, a process that is not completed into the liberation of all peoples has been achieved: as Segundo states, Christ “was concerned with man’s full and integral liberation, a process which is already at work in history and which makes use of historical means.”[footnoteRef:10] The doctrine of salvation is one that is not concerned with “magical effectiveness…but rather liberating factors in its faith and its liturgy”—i.e., the victory of God and His Church is one that “must be viewed in functional terms rather than quantitative or numerical terms.”[footnoteRef:11] The people of God have as the destiny the mission of acquiring the supernatural grace to raise themselves up and to raise up the oppressed in order to achieve their destiny. This is similar to what Paul Freire asserts in The Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire states that “if I do not love the world—if I do not love life—if I do not love people—I cannot enter into dialogue…[and that] dialogue cannot exist without humility.”[footnoteRef:12] From the standpoint of liberation theology, Christ is dialogue that moves the world, and salvation is effected and achieved by implementing the love of Christ among the people of the world who are downtrodden. [9: Juan Luis Segundo, Liberation of Theology (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002), 3.] [10: Juan Luis Segundo, Liberation of Theology (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002), 3.] [11: Juan Luis Segundo, Liberation of Theology (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2002), 3.] [12: Paul Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (NY: Continuum, 2000), 90.]
From my position on the doctrine of salvation to the position of liberation theology is but a few steps in the evolution of one’s thought on what theology is. If the Old World view of theology was intellectual and theoretical, the modern view held…
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