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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A short critique of "Liberation Theology"

Just like Saint Augustine (and other Church Fathers) christianized the philosophy of Plato.

Just like Thomas Aquanius and John Calvin christianized the philosophy of Aristotle.

Some thought that they could do the same for the political philosophy of Karl Marx.

What started in Germany soon went to South America, and from South America it has found it's way in some black American churches. It was real popular in the 1960's, but such a theology is really unnecessary.

Christianity has always had a social theology. One can find it in the Gospels when one looks at the Sermon on the mount.

One can look in 1st John and in the Epistle of Saint James to see that Christians cared about their neighbor.

One can look at the early Church right after the Apostolic era. Christians gave to the poor, they saved the lives of unwanted Babies that were discarded by the pagan Romans.

It wasn't uncommon to see christians give all their monatory wealth to the poor around them.

Saint Cyprian gave his wealth away. Saint Augustine sold his estate(or part of it....I forgot which) and gave the money to the poor in his community.

One of Saint Augustine's enemies did the same. Julian was defrocked as a Bishop for supporting Pelagius against Augustine.......and just like Augustine.....he too gave all his wealth to the poor in his town.

So we don't need Liberation Theology. But since it is here.........what needs to be done is what was done in the past when christians tried to christianize the pagan culture around them.

One needs to use "some" of the truths found in Liberation theology to express "some" of the teachings of the christian faith. This method should be done when the audience is trapped in a communist culture.

And when the Audience is a christian culture or a mixed audience ...then one needs to change the pagan word or concept to fit a christian teaching. This is what the Church Fathers have done. They purged the meaning and contexts of pagan words all the time. Even the Apostles did it.

When one looks at the word heaven, "Kosmos" will notice that this greek word meant something different to the pagan greeks. The Apostles christianized that word. the Hellenistic Jews had to do the same when they translated texts from Aramiac and Hebrew to greek.

This same concept applies to all of our contact with the nonchristian World.

Christianity has never embraced all of the pagan culture around them. Only the good. And how one does that is to see what is in agreement with the Christian Faith.

Once that goodness is found then everything around it needs to be purged. Something similar happens in medicene. One finds the active ingredient in order to help find cures.

In our case, the active ingredient is the "good" found in the culture. It is my belief that God through Prevenient grace planted certain seeds of truth in pagan cultures to help draw them closer to Christ.

Once we find these truths in our missionary efforts, we can use them to help express a truth of the christian Faith.

This hasn't happened yet in Liberation Theology. It still looks to much like Marxism. Thus it needs more purging.

But like I said is unnecessary for Christianity always had it's own social view.

Thus Liberation Theology was an experiment gone wrong. We can't christianize everything.

Out of all the pagan greek philosophers, Socratese and Plato were two of the closest to christianity.

This was the only reason why they were usable. Every philosophy can't be christianized.........especially the philosophy of Karl Marx.



D Schneider said...

Your claim that "John Calvin christianized the philosophy of Aristotle" is nonsense on stilts!Can you substantiate it?

Jnorm said...

Like alot of Roman Catholics of his day he studied humanism. some call it Christian humanism, but it was nothing more than a christianization of the greek classics.

What do you think the Renaissance was all about? Do you really believe that the Renaissance didn't influence the protestant Reformation? If it wasn't for the Renaissance then there would have never been a Reformation.

One can see Aristotlian logic all throughout John Calvin's writtings. There was a major shift in scripture interpretation during the time of the Protestant Reformation. It differed from alot of the Patristic exegesis that preceeded it.


D Schneider said...

You have not substantiated your view - you are mistaken. It is well known that T Aquinas was thoroughly indebted to Aristotle - I shall refrain from commenting on the Aristotelian assumptions behind transubstantiation. Luther detested Aristotle; Calvin was more cautious. Calvin was confident about the Patristics being on his side. Rome could not gainsay him! I am, of course, attacking your argument. Nothing personal!

Jnorm said...

What did Calvin learn at Paris University? Before he became Protestant?

This was all I was getting at.


Anonymous said...

You have no real reasons. This isn't a critique. You just say its too close to Marxism but provide no examples.

Jnorm said...


I assumed people knew about the connection to Marxism already.

D Schneider,

After some reflection, I must admit that most of what you said about John Calvin was true. It was the 2nd generation of Protestants that mostly embraced Aristotle, but his deterministic logic is found all throughout Calvin's Institutes. And so, in some way, his thought process was still influenced by Aristotle. But yes, you are correct by what you said.

Christ is Risen!

Morgan Guyton said...

I love how the Calvinists are scandalized that their hero could have actually read something pagan.

The one essential thing you haven't done in this treatise is cite any actual liberation theology texts so I have no basis for assessing the adequacy of your critique. I have read quite a few of them directly. I have also read Marx first-hand, so I know the terminology that I would be looking for if it were based on Marx. I honestly haven't found it in Sobrino, Romero, Gutierrez, Boff, or Ellacuria. Perhaps there is Marx in others I haven't read. I think the Marxism slur against liberation theology is mostly just the propaganda of Latin American dictators who wanted US money to massacre their poor people when they revolted.

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