What is Liberation Theology?
Question: "What is Liberation Theology?"
Answer: Simply put, Liberation Theology is an attempt to interpret Scripture through the plight of the poor. It is largely a humanistic doctrine which started in South America in the turbulent 1950's when Marxism was making great gains among the poor. Because of its emphasis on the redistribution of wealth, it allowed poor peasants to share in the wealth of the colonial elite and thus upgrade their economic status in life. As a theology, it has very strong Roman Catholic roots.
Liberation Theology was bolstered in 1968 at the Second Latin American Bishops Conference which met in Medellin, Colombia. The idea was to study the Bible and to fight for social justice in Christian (Catholic) communities. Since the only governmental model for the redistribution of the wealth in a South American country was a Marxist model (gained in the turbulent 1950's), the redistribution of wealth to raise the economic standards of the poor in South America took on a definite Marxist flavor. Since those who had money were very reluctant to part with it in any wealth redistribution model, the use of a populist (read poor) revolt was encouraged by those who worked most closely with the poor. As a result, the Liberation Theology model was mired in Marxist dogma and revolutionary causes.
As a result of its Marxist leanings, by the 1980's the Catholic hierarchy, from Pope John Paul on down, had criticized liberation theology as practiced by the bishops and priests of South America. As a result, they have been accused of supporting violent revolutions and outright Marxist class struggle by the top hierarchy of the Catholic Church. This perversion is usually the result of a humanist view of man being codified into Church doctrine by zealous priests and bishops and explains why the Catholic top hierarchy now want to separate themselves from a Marxist doctrine and revolution.
However, Liberation Theology has moved from the poor peasants in South America to the poor blacks in America. We now have Black Liberation Theology being preached in the black community. It is the same Marxist, revolutionary, humanistic philosophy found in South American Liberation Theology and has no more claim for a scriptural basis than the South American model has. False doctrine is still false, no matter how it is dressed up or what fancy name is attached to it. In the same way that revolutionary fervor was stirred up in South America, Liberation Theology is now trying to stir up revolutionary fervor among Blacks in America. If the church in America recognizes the falseness of Black Liberation Theology as the Catholic Church did in the South American model, Black Liberation Theology will suffer the same fate that the South America Liberation Theology did, namely it will be seen to be the false doctrine of a humanist viewpoint dressed up in theological terms.
Recommended Resource: The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns.
What is systematic theology?
What is dogmatic theology?
What is open theism?
What is process theology?
What is hope theology / theology of hope?
Questions about Theology
What is Liberation Theology?