Liberation theology is a movement in the Christian world that interprets the teachings of Jesus in terms of freedom from unjust economic, political, or social conditions. It has been described by its supporters as an interpretation of the Christian faith through eyes of the suffering, the struggles and the hope of the poor.
I came across this quotation the other day that is worth some thought in this context:
‘We see in the gospels that it’s the lame, the poor, the blind, the prostitutes, the drunkards, the tax collectors, the sinners, the outsiders, and the aliens who tended to follow Jesus. It was those on the inside, and on the top of their society who crucified him (elders, chief priests, teachers of the Law, and Roman occupiers). Shouldn’t that tell us something really important about perspective? Every viewpoint is a view from a point, and we need to critique our own perspective and privilege if we are to see truth.
‘However, many fail to appreciate liberation theology because of 1,700 years of interpreting the Scriptures through the eyes of the secure clergy class, rather than from the perspective of those on the bottom or on the outside.
‘After Christianity became the established religion of the Roman Empire in the early fourth century, we largely stopped reading the Bible from the perspective of the poor and the oppressed. Instead, we read it from a position of comfort and not as people who are hungry for justice and truth. To understand that is to understand why Jesus said, “I did not come for the healthy but for the sick.”’
I find this one of the most profound critiques of the religious establishment that I have ever read. It does not turn the system on its head, rather it tells how the system has turned the utter simplicity of God’s truth on its head.
I sometimes speak about a deeply revolutionary sermon I heard from an old minister as he reluctantly approached his forced retirement at the age of seventy – body still fit, mind still sharp and his passion to reach out to lonely and hurting people as strong as ever.
Simply put, Rev David had run out of time one Sunday morning and with only five minutes of the service left he read from John 15:9: ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.’ And he added, ‘Doesn’t that blow your mind?’
I’ll be honest, every time I read that Scripture and think that Jesus loves me in the same way as the Father loves him it blows my mind, but if we read it through the lens of the secure clergy class it misses the point that he loves the lame, the poor, the blind, the prostitutes, the drunkards, the tax collectors, the sinners, the outsiders, and the alien.
That’s what most of the religious class have missed for the last 1,700 years, but it is the very thing that can change the world.
Let’s develop a passion to have our minds blown by a simple truth: ‘As the Father loved his Son, so the Son has loved me.’
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