Liberation theology

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The liberation of our continent means more than overcoming economic, social, and political dependence. It means, in a deeper sense, to see the becoming of mankind as a process of the emancipation of man in history. It is to see man in search of a qualitatively different society in which he will be free from all servitude, in which he will be the artisan of his own destiny. ~ Gustavo Gutiérrez
If the church ... does not make God's liberation of the oppressed central in its mission and proclamation, how can it rest easy with a condemned criminal as the dominant symbol of its message? ~ James H. Cone
He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me? ~ Jeremiah

Liberation theology represents an interpretation of the Christian faith that attempts to restore its role as defender of the poor and oppressed. It began as a movement within the Catholic Church in Latin America in the 1950s–1960s, principally as a moral reaction to the poverty and social injustice in that region, and has subsequently grown into an international and inter-denominational movement.

Quotes[edit]

  • Work is more important than property. ... Thus every system of property ought to be evaluated according to its ability to humanize life and the labor of the working man.
    • Archbishop of La Paz, Between Honesty and Hope, pp. 6-7, cited in A Theology of Liberation (1971), p. 128, note 58
  • Liberating the Church from temporal ties and from the image projected by its bonds with the powerful ... will free the Church from compromising commitments and make it more able to speak out. It will show that in order to fulfill its mission, the Church relies more on the strength of the Lord than on the strength of Power. And the Church will be able to establish ... the only earthly ties which it should have: communion with the disinherited of our country, with their concerns and struggles.
    • Clergy of Peru, message to the episcopal assembly, in A Theology of Liberation (1971), p. 115
  • Unter dieser Beleuchtung entsteht mir der Gott, der der Beistand des Armen ist und sein Rächer in der Weltgeschichte. Diesen Rächer der Armen liebe ich.
    • In this light the God who appears to me is the comforter of the poor and their avenger in world history. This avenger of the poor is the God I love.
      • Hermann Cohen, Der Begriff der Religion im System der Philosophie, Volume 10, Part 1, p. 81
  • As ambassadors of Jesus Christ, Christians have no choice but to join the movement of liberation on the side of the poor, fighting against the structures of injustice. Faith in Jesus Christ, therefore, is not only an affirmation that we utter in Sunday worship and at other church gatherings. Faith is a commitment, a deeply felt experience of being called by the Spirit of Christ to bear witness to God's coming liberation by fighting for the freedom of the poor now.
    • James H. Cone, Speaking the Truth: Ecumenism, Liberation, and Black Theology (1986), p. v
  • If the church ... does not make God's liberation of the oppressed central in its mission and proclamation, how can it rest easy with a condemned criminal as the dominant symbol of its message?
    • James H. Cone, Speaking the Truth: Ecumenism, Liberation, and Black Theology (1986), p. 6
  • The liberation of our continent means more than overcoming economic, social, and political dependence. It means, in a deeper sense, to see the becoming of mankind as a process of the emancipation of man in history. It is to see man in search of a qualitatively different society in which he will be free from all servitude, in which he will be the artisan of his own destiny.
  • They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat.
  • “Does it make you a king
to have more and more cedar?
Did not your father have food and drink?
He did what was right and just,
so all went well with him.
He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?”
declares the Lord.
  • The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed.
  • Not only are there dehumanizing tendencies within people, there are dehumanizing forces encrusted in society. Sin also has a social and objective dimension. The social, political, cultural or economic structures become dehumanizing when they aren't at the service of "all persons and the whole person," in one word, when they become structures which perpetuate injustice. Structures are a product of persons but they assume an impersonal and even demonic character by going beyond the possibilities of individual action. Collective and concerted action to change said structures is necessary, for there is no structure which is sacred or unchangeable.
    • Manifesto of the Bolivian Methodist Church (1970), in The Cry of My People, p. 104
  • The God whom we know in the Bible is a liberating God, a God who destroys myths and alienations, a God who intervenes in history in order to break down the structures of injustice and who raises up prophets in order to point out the way of justice and mercy. He is the God who liberates slaves (Exodus), who causes empires to fall and raises up the oppressed (Magnificat, Luke 1:52).
    • Manifesto of the Bolivian Methodist Church (1970), in The Cry of My People, p. 104
  • When a system ceases to promote the common good and favors special interests, the Church must not only denounce injustice but also break with the evil system.
    • Peruvian Bishop's Commission for Social Action, Between Honesty and Hope (1970), p. 5, as cited in A Theology of Liberation (1971), p. 115
  • As we see it, a perhaps faulty presentation of the Christian message may have given the impression that religion is indeed the opiate of the people. And we would be guilty of betraying the cause of Peru's development, if we did not stress the fact that the doctrinal riches of the Gospel contain a revolutionary thrust.
    • Peruvian Bishop's Commission for Social Action, Between Honesty and Hope (1970), p. 74, as cited in A Theology of Liberation (1971), p. 116
  • At its beginnings there was very powerful meditation on the presence of Christ in the oppressed Indians, which objectively pointed toward a christology of the "body of Christ." Guamán Poma, for example, said, "By faith we know clearly that where there is a poor person there is Jesus Christ himself," and Bartolomé de las Casas declared, "In the Indies I leave Jesus Christ, our God, being whipped and afflicted, and buffeted and crucified, not once but thousands of times, as often as the Spaniards assault and destroy those people." But this original christological insight did not thrive, and what became the tradition was a christology based on the dogmatic formulas, in which—however well they were known and understood—what was stressed was the divinity of Christ rather than his real and lived humanity.
    • Jon Sobrino, Jesus the Liberator (1991), as translated by P. Burns and F. McDonagh (1993)
  • The order of authority derives from God, as the Apostle says [in Romans 13:1-7]. For this reason, the duty of obedience is, for the Christian, a consequence of this derivation of authority from God, and ceases when that ceases. But, as we have already said, authority may fail to derive from God for two reasons: either because of the way in which authority has been obtained, or in consequence of the use which is made of it.

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