Liberation Theology, What is it and How Does it Impact Christendom?

Liberation Theology Is a post-Enlightenment theologi­cal movement that seeks to unite theological and social con­cerns on an equal footing. Liberation Theology owes its genesis to the epistemological philosophies of Kant, Hegel and Marx. It has been greatly influenced by the European Political Theology movement and by the radical North American the­ologians J.B. Metz, Jügen Moltmann and Harvey Cox. These men have not really been criticizing Orthodox Christianity. It is not clear if they know what it is or if they care. Their dis­pute has been with Protestant liberal theology or the histori­cal and individ­ualistic nature of existential theology. According to them an emphasis must arise that shifts away from the individualism which is the whole focus of existentialism, and to the needy masses. The causes espoused by liberation theology are across the whole spectrum of modern move­ments: children are to be liberated from parents, women from men and particu­larly husbands, homosexuals from the bondage of normal hetero­sexual behavior, Christians from religion and the Bible, and the underprivileged of this world from ethical and ma­terial bondage.

To liberation theology, truth must alter itself to ad­dress the social needs of its time and culture as seen situational–not by any fixed set of moral and spiritual criteria. Liberation theologians feed their ego by building a noble repu­tation of being for the underdog, whoever and whatever he might be, with no thought given to the morality of his position or whether the unsolicited efforts of the liberation theologian are helping or hurting the underdog in the long run. It is often questioned whether the liberation theologian is for the underdog at all, or if he is merely playing the game to make personal merchandise out of his dilemma. His disadvantaged position makes it all right for the liberation theologian to take charge of his life and begin to help him, whether he wants it or not.

Praxis
The theological device of Liberation Theology is Praxis. This term, which literally means practice rather than theory, refers to the discovery and formation of a theology that is a truth born of the situation through personal participa­tion. It might be called Enlightenment, anthropological, epis­temologi­cal, socially relevant, experiential truth. Liberation theology is basically a theology of autonomy, as per the En­lightenment perspectives of Immanuel Kant and his “autonomy of reason.” This theology is not worked out by any disclosure from God or the Bible. It comes from “outside” revelation born out of individual intercourse with history. And then Liberation Theology involves the political philosophy of Karl Marx. This argument is that man as a complete being can only emerge when he is able to throw off the impersonal and hos­tile economic establishment of society. While some the­ologians argue that Marxism and Liberation Theology are indis­tinguish­able, others say that this is not quite accurate.

Marxism and Liberation Theology
Liberation theologians have drawn upon Marx’s infa­mous declaration: “Hitherto philosophers have explained the world; our task is to change it” (Mario Savio rephrased Marx at Cal-Berkeley, in the 1960’s, when he said: “I am tired of read­ing about history; I want to go out and make it”). They profess to truly believe that theology is not meant to be doctrinal but practically involved in the struggle to bring about social justice, with autonomy and anarchy as the guiding benchmarks as to how and when the struggle is won. In order to do this, Liberation Theology makes no secret of wanting to use Marx’s class analysis that divides between the oppressed and the op­pressor and brands the authorities as the oppressor. Inevitably this means that morality lies on the side of the rebel, irrespec­tive of any artificial biblical standards of right and wrong.

Marxism and Liberation Theology openly condemn Christianity for tolerating the status quo and for justifying the oppressor by defending the patriarchal system of authority. In Liberation Theology, the authority and the oppressor are one. Marxists and liberation theologians claim that they are not de­parting from ancient and original Christianity. They claim that Jesus was a revolutionary and a social activist and that He drew up a new theology that was born of the class struggle of His day where He opposed the religious and political authorities, who were inevitably the oppressors, and led an assault on them. That is why the radical 60s movement was infested with Messiah-types with long hair, flowing robes, and sandals. The Student revolutionh of the 60s was and is a Jesus People movement.

Communication with God in Libration Theology
In terms of communication with God, He is totally other. The only communication with God that we can have will come about when “the poor man, who is the ‘other,’ reveals the to­tally other to us.” All communication with God is defendant upon taking the side of the exploited classes, identifying with their plight, and sharing their fate. We can only understand God in terms of the history that we learn by be­coming involved in the social struggle with oppressed human beings. God is not revealed in nature, he is not known by faith; but dialectically in the creature’s suffering and despair. In other words, this is the religious side of Existentialism and Nihilism, only there everything is “You’ve got to be you,” but here it’s “You’ve got to be you by being him.” But the abstract religious non-reality does not change.

There is no order, no plan, and no future hope. As Karl Barth taught, there is no God that can be known apart from his actions. There is no analogy of being (analogia entis: Church Dogmatics II, Vol. I, p. 270), there is only the analogy of deeds and behavior (analogia at­tributionis: Church Dogmatics II, Vol. I, p. 269). These are not practical lessons, but statements of abstract the­ology and philosophy. There is nothing to man and his being, or to God for that matter, except our experiences that cannot be defined, other than an identity with the oppressed. It is only in this that we have “analogy with God,” which is one and the same with “re­lationship to Him.” This relationship is not real, in a physical resurrection in the future somewhere, any more than God is real and physical. It is the abstract, metaphysical unreal reality behind these symbol words in the Bible. In this struggle, somewhere, though we will not and need not know where, we will have our authenticating experiences that will give meaning to our being. It is a meaning that will not last, for we are evolutionary accidents that must become extinct like all evolutionary things. But it is what there is, and it is all there is. Who are we to complain? Without it, we would be nothing now, even as we were in the past and as we shall be in the fu­ture. After all there is no intelligence or plan that brought us here and there is no utopia for us to go to. This is why Karl Barth taught that man is born to become extinct. Death is part of the good creation of God (Church Dogmatics III, Vol. II, p. 777). By this we go back into the cosmic order that exists in the midst of the chaos. The meaning to it all is that we have changed something while we have been here. In this way we have changed God and truth. By allowing this, God has changed Himself and His truth, which He felt the need to do. This is God or man or whatever, and this is salvation or north­ingness–or what would you like to call it?

The Contributions of Liberation Theology
If one looked for anything at all that is of service in Liberation Theology, he might say that it has helped to focus at­tention on oppression and the underprivileged in the world. But when placed alongside the monstrosities of its humanistic and dialectic destruction of the Christian message and founda­tion, this service is a lonely, isolated flower that is surrounded by a quagmire of dialectical materialism, religious and secular humanism, existentialism, nihilism, abstract theology, autonomy and anarchy.

Liberation Theology, What is it and How Does it Impact Christendom?

Liberation Theology Is a post-Enlightenment theologi­cal movement that seeks to unite theological and social con­cerns on an equal footing. Liberation Theology owes its genesis to the epistemological philosophies of Kant, Hegel and Marx. It has been greatly influenced by the European Political Theology movement and by the radical North American the­ologians J.B. Metz, Jügen Moltmann and Harvey Cox. These men have not really been criticizing Orthodox Christianity. It is not clear if they know what it is or if they care. Their dis­pute has been with Protestant liberal theology or the histori­cal and individ­ualistic nature of existential theology. According to them an emphasis must arise that shifts away from the individualism which is the whole focus of existentialism, and to the needy masses. The causes espoused by liberation theology are across the whole spectrum of modern move­ments: children are to be liberated from parents, women from men and particu­larly husbands, homosexuals from the bondage of normal hetero­sexual behavior, Christians from religion and the Bible, and the underprivileged of this world from ethical and ma­terial bondage.

To liberation theology, truth must alter itself to ad­dress the social needs of its time and culture as seen situational–not by any fixed set of moral and spiritual criteria. Liberation theologians feed their ego by building a noble repu­tation of being for the underdog, whoever and whatever he might be, with no thought given to the morality of his position or whether the unsolicited efforts of the liberation theologian are helping or hurting the underdog in the long run. It is often questioned whether the liberation theologian is for the underdog at all, or if he is merely playing the game to make personal merchandise out of his dilemma. His disadvantaged position makes it all right for the liberation theologian to take charge of his life and begin to help him, whether he wants it or not.

Praxis
The theological device of Liberation Theology is Praxis. This term, which literally means practice rather than theory, refers to the discovery and formation of a theology that is a truth born of the situation through personal participa­tion. It might be called Enlightenment, anthropological, epis­temologi­cal, socially relevant, experiential truth. Liberation theology is basically a theology of autonomy, as per the En­lightenment perspectives of Immanuel Kant and his “autonomy of reason.” This theology is not worked out by any disclosure from God or the Bible. It comes from “outside” revelation born out of individual intercourse with history. And then Liberation Theology involves the political philosophy of Karl Marx. This argument is that man as a complete being can only emerge when he is able to throw off the impersonal and hos­tile economic establishment of society. While some the­ologians argue that Marxism and Liberation Theology are indis­tinguish­able, others say that this is not quite accurate.

Marxism and Liberation Theology
Liberation theologians have drawn upon Marx’s infa­mous declaration: “Hitherto philosophers have explained the world; our task is to change it” (Mario Savio rephrased Marx at Cal-Berkeley, in the 1960’s, when he said: “I am tired of read­ing about history; I want to go out and make it”). They profess to truly believe that theology is not meant to be doctrinal but practically involved in the struggle to bring about social justice, with autonomy and anarchy as the guiding benchmarks as to how and when the struggle is won. In order to do this, Liberation Theology makes no secret of wanting to use Marx’s class analysis that divides between the oppressed and the op­pressor and brands the authorities as the oppressor. Inevitably this means that morality lies on the side of the rebel, irrespec­tive of any artificial biblical standards of right and wrong.

Marxism and Liberation Theology openly condemn Christianity for tolerating the status quo and for justifying the oppressor by defending the patriarchal system of authority. In Liberation Theology, the authority and the oppressor are one. Marxists and liberation theologians claim that they are not de­parting from ancient and original Christianity. They claim that Jesus was a revolutionary and a social activist and that He drew up a new theology that was born of the class struggle of His day where He opposed the religious and political authorities, who were inevitably the oppressors, and led an assault on them. That is why the radical 60s movement was infested with Messiah-types with long hair, flowing robes, and sandals. The Student revolutionh of the 60s was and is a Jesus People movement.

Communication with God in Libration Theology
In terms of communication with God, He is totally other. The only communication with God that we can have will come about when “the poor man, who is the ‘other,’ reveals the to­tally other to us.” All communication with God is defendant upon taking the side of the exploited classes, identifying with their plight, and sharing their fate. We can only understand God in terms of the history that we learn by be­coming involved in the social struggle with oppressed human beings. God is not revealed in nature, he is not known by faith; but dialectically in the creature’s suffering and despair. In other words, this is the religious side of Existentialism and Nihilism, only there everything is “You’ve got to be you,” but here it’s “You’ve got to be you by being him.” But the abstract religious non-reality does not change.

There is no order, no plan, and no future hope. As Karl Barth taught, there is no God that can be known apart from his actions. There is no analogy of being (analogia entis: Church Dogmatics II, Vol. I, p. 270), there is only the analogy of deeds and behavior (analogia at­tributionis: Church Dogmatics II, Vol. I, p. 269). These are not practical lessons, but statements of abstract the­ology and philosophy. There is nothing to man and his being, or to God for that matter, except our experiences that cannot be defined, other than an identity with the oppressed. It is only in this that we have “analogy with God,” which is one and the same with “re­lationship to Him.” This relationship is not real, in a physical resurrection in the future somewhere, any more than God is real and physical. It is the abstract, metaphysical unreal reality behind these symbol words in the Bible. In this struggle, somewhere, though we will not and need not know where, we will have our authenticating experiences that will give meaning to our being. It is a meaning that will not last, for we are evolutionary accidents that must become extinct like all evolutionary things. But it is what there is, and it is all there is. Who are we to complain? Without it, we would be nothing now, even as we were in the past and as we shall be in the fu­ture. After all there is no intelligence or plan that brought us here and there is no utopia for us to go to. This is why Karl Barth taught that man is born to become extinct. Death is part of the good creation of God (Church Dogmatics III, Vol. II, p. 777). By this we go back into the cosmic order that exists in the midst of the chaos. The meaning to it all is that we have changed something while we have been here. In this way we have changed God and truth. By allowing this, God has changed Himself and His truth, which He felt the need to do. This is God or man or whatever, and this is salvation or north­ingness–or what would you like to call it?

The Contributions of Liberation Theology
If one looked for anything at all that is of service in Liberation Theology, he might say that it has helped to focus at­tention on oppression and the underprivileged in the world. But when placed alongside the monstrosities of its humanistic and dialectic destruction of the Christian message and founda­tion, this service is a lonely, isolated flower that is surrounded by a quagmire of dialectical materialism, religious and secular humanism, existentialism, nihilism, abstract theology, autonomy and anarchy.

Is Peace Possible? War – Part 1 of 4 – 1967 Editorial

December 20, 1967

War ravages many lands on this, the 1,967th birthday of He who is called the Prince of Peace.

It is appropriate, therefore, that we examine the nature of war and the prospects of peace before we take up the pleasantries of Santa Claus or even the inspirations of the Miracle Birth.

It is passing strange that so fundamental a human activity as war — something that affects our lives deeply — should be so little understood. There has grown up over the centuries a great deal of nonsense about the nature of war that interferes with our perspective. Not until we know the truth of war can we decide for peace.

From the personal view of those engaged in military combat, war is a nasty, negative business. General William Sherman is reported to have summed it up in an address before the Michigan Military Academy in 1979,

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.”

We start, then, with the unassailable observation that war is, indeed, hell.

From this point on, however, let us examine war from the larger viewpoint of society for it is at this level that wars are made and ended. The first step forward in our quest for truth in this matter should be a realization that death and agony of individual participants has little bearing on the popularity of war. The advantages of war have to this date outweighed the horrors.

From studies of primitive peoples in isolated parts of the world today, anthropologists have deduced that our hunting and herding ancestors were accustomed to fighting for territory. However, tribal destruction was rare. Only warriors engaged in mortal combat. Possessions were not fixed in place so retreat was more sensible than a fight to the finish over territory that would be abandoned sooner or later.

Organized, sustained war is an invention of civilization with the same degree of ingenuity as the wheel, alphabet and bronze. It began with the discovery of wheat and establishment of permanent farming villages in ancient Sumer (Iraq) some six thousand years ago.

With the planting of crops and lists the building of houses, man was anchored and could not give way to aggressors. The acquisition, development and defense of new territory now required the coordinated efforts of members of ever larger groups. When conflict over territory occurred between two anchored groups, a “war” of death, destruction and subjugation was the easiest solution.

From history and anthropology we learn that war is not a carry-over from our animalistic beginnings. Rather, it is a comparatively modern institution invented and continuously improved for civilized goals.

There is no inherent tendency to war in the nature of man. Nothing in his psychological makeup drives him to wanton killing. Very few of Nature’s creatures seek combat for the thrill of it, least of all primitive people whose existence is precarious at best. The most fearless of animals or nomadic hunters will retreat before fighting if given the opportunity.

War is only an institution serving man!

Contrary to popular thought, war is terribly efficient in advancing the interests of civilized groups. It is this very efficiency that makes war so frequently used. Time and again our decision makers have persuaded us to accept the hell of war because of the recognized efficiency of war for gain or for defense.

It must be admitted that under the demands of war we have accelerated our technology and social organization. It took man several millions of years as an independent, comparatively peaceful being to progress from stone hammers to farming.

Under six thousand years of “civilization” (literally: man of the city) we have come from mud huts to space rockets. The necessity of keeping up with Enemy Jones has spurred us to stupendous, inventive effort. What we call progress is due in large part — but not wholly — to the requirements of war.

Being an intelligent being, it is likely that man would have gone to the moon eventually, but in millions of years instead of thousands. Whether the acceleration in technology and supporting activities has been worth the sacrifice is a philosophical question only. Whether we wish to continue the pace is a pertinent question of great import.

Jesus preached the brotherhood of man as the instrument of peace. Cynics are wont to put down this thesis as impractically idealistic. Yet, logic — if not faith — compels concurrence with Jesus’ wisdom.

In recent years, anthropologists have confirmed what Jesus declared nearly two thousand years ago — that peace is dependent upon universal identification of man with the single group of man, and the sharing of wealth with those not having it. In non-theological terms it means peace will be possible when we no longer think of ourselves as Americans, or Moslems, or black men, or communists or any other distinguishable group.

Also, we must invent a better institution than war to resolve group conflicts in a manner that distributes available resources more or less equally to all men.

Different groups have different wants. Until we share equal standards and equal satisfactions, we will suffer from inter-group conflict and resulting inter-group aggression.

Continued