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Liberation Theology and Marxism
Terms in this set (56)
-theological movement about action for the poor
-practical movement that began in 1964
-stress that action is more important than academic theology
Two leading liberation theologians involved in the beginning of the movement
What was liberation theology inspired by?
Freire and his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970)
term used by Freire to describe the ways in which a person becomes aware of the power structures in soceity
Kingdom of God
not something should hope for after they die but should try to bring about in this world
-grows through the liberation of the poor
Two forms of liberation which must both happen if there is to be true freedom (Gutierrez)
-liberation from social and economic oppression (institutional)
-liberation from sin (personal)
Within liberation theology which must come first
orthopraxy (right practice) over orthodoxy (right belief/ right doctrine)
sin done by society as a whole, whole methods of wronging God/ disobeying his commands
-s system can embrace inequality, oppression, alienation and exploitation and so the whole system can be sinful and disobey the will of God
-structural sin in a capitalist society
discussion groups for people to share their challenges and think about practical solutions supported by Christian faith
Exodus quotation. God sends Moses to Pharaoh demanding...
"let my people go" (liberated from slavery)
Luke quotation. The Magnificet song of Mary when she finds out she is expecting Jesus
"he has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty"
Jesus on wealth and heaven quotation (Matthew)
"it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God"
Jesus' Resurrection quotation (ultimate expression of freedom) John
"i will raise them up at the last day"
The Beatitudes quotation (Matthew)
"blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
- 19th century philosopher, economics and political theorist
- laid the foundations of socialism and communism
- living during the Industrial revolution social change
Marx as an atheist
- religion is the "opiate of the people", like a drug that makes people sleepy
- ruling classes used religion to keep social classes divided and stay in power
- makes false promises of rewards in heaven to compensate for the injustices in this world
-dampens down ideas of revolution
-God chooses what sort of life people have
- religion gives power to the state to control population (God's natural hierarchical order)
economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for profit
the process of becoming detached or isolated
treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work or resources
trade and industry is controlled by the state
preferential option for the poor
idea that Jesus stood with the poor and oppressed, and the Church should focus on the poor and oppressed and stand in solidarity with them
Marx on capitalism
- creates a divide between those who own the means of production and those who work for the owners (class divide= conflict/ injustice)
- employees feel they are part of a machine
-alienation and exploitation and dehumanised through supply chain
-don't see those in the supply chain as having equal righta
-labour= forced labour as couldn't provide for ourselves without
- society fractured when could create a surplus
e.g. feudal lords and serfs
Marx on the impact of technology for workers
-production mechanised and peoples working life on one part of a process so less pride with finished outcome
- people at mercy of things they cannot control/ powerless
Latin America in the second half of the 20th century
-state of tension due to the Cold War where USA and USSR offering competing ideologies (capitalism and communism)
Gutierrez using Marxism
-saw the task of Christianity through a marxist lens
-used marxist terminology when writing about theological idea
-agreed that the poor were alienated from society and exploited by capitalism
(do not follow Marxism but use as a means to understand the situation of the poor and oppressed)
Who first used the phrase 'preferential option for the poor'
Pedro Arrupe in 1968 (Jesuit theologian)
- made the 'preferential option for the poor' a key feature of his liberation theology
-Christians should not be neutral when misery and injustice
- whatever criticisms can be levelled at liberation theology for its use of Marxism, there is an authentic Christian response in the preferential option for the poor
- Importance of human dignity with how humans were made in the image and likeness of God
Differences between Gutierrez and Segundo
G= people need to be freed from poverty and exploitation before sin
S= liberation from sin fist as freedom from poverty might be unachievable
Pope John Paul II using the phrase 'preferential option for the poor'
Encyclical in 1991
- although made it clear that the concern was for those in spiritual poverty as well as social/ economic poverty
"drugs, as well as pornography and other forms of consumerism which exploit the frailty of the weak, tend to fill the resulting spiritual void"
-took on the idea of solidarity with the poor in 2013
-rejected the extravagance of the Vatican
- first Latin American pope brought a more sympathetic view to liberation theology
- invited Gutierrez to be a keynote speaker at the Vatican
Catholic Concerns about liberation theology (5)
- dangerous to adopt Marxism as contains intolerable aspects and emphasises class/ community at expense of individual
- only God can remove human sufffering
-Christian liberation should primarily be from sin
-Christian mission over violent revolution
-saying the Eucharist is about power struggle is a perversion of the Christian message
Scholars who criticise liberation theology
LT takes some biblical themes but ignores others completely, and only sees oppression in economic terms ignoring oppression from culture e.g. sexism and racism
practical opposition to oppression should not be emphasised more than Gospel teachings
- Bible emphasises personal sin
-Only God can deliver liberation and salvation
doing vs. allowing harm
Rachel James- inaction has the same level of immorality as action (drowning a kid vs. letting a drown and not helping)
- in the case of liberation theology allowing injustice to occur is the same as causing it
Gutierrez on social and economic liberation first
poverty and oppression are caused by humans and can be remedied by them
Marx quotation on religion and happiness
"the abolition of region as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their happiness"
Marx quotation on capitalism, machines and people
reduced "both intellectually and physically, to the level of a machine... more dependent on every fluctuation of the market price... on the whims of the wealthy"
Marx quotation (similarities to orthopraxy/ orthodoxy)
"philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it"
- too abstract
Gutierrez quotation on the church and class struggle links
"unity is one of the notes of the Church and yet the class struggle divides men; is the unity of the Church comparable with class struggle?"
Boff and Boff quotations showing that liberation theology is not Marxist but uses Marx's analysis of society
"liberation theology used Marxism purely as an instrument. it does not venerate it as it venerates the gospel"
"freely borrows certain methodological pointers that have proved fruitful in understanding the world of the oppressed"
"useful companion on the way... but can never be a guide because 'you only have one teacher, the Christ"
Biblical evidence to show that the Kingdom of God isn't heaven but a transformation of material society based on Christian values where the present social conditions have been transformed
- "for, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you"- Luke
- "blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth"- Matthew
Why does Christianity need Marxism analysis for praxis to be effective?
For praxis to be effective some analysis is needed of the social, economic and political conditions that have caused injustice. Christian theology doesn't have the means to do this so turn to Marx as a sociological system to offer sociological explanation
Jose Porfirio Miranda- Marxism not adequate on its own to deal with social injustice
o For Marx, private ownership of land is the root cause of injustice and alienation and oppression are caused when humans objectify the world and treat it as their own (similar idea at the heart of the Bible)
o Marxism has underestimated that capitalism is due to human sin- not just external material economic causes, more fuller reason
o Marxism, due to his rejection of God fails to adequately explain causes for private ownership. Capitalism has been worshiped instead due to the rejection of 2nd commandment against idolatry
Ratzinger quotation criticism
"let us recall the fact that atheism and the denial of the human personal, his liberty and rights, are at the core of the Marxist theory", cannot only take only a part
- Will continue to struggle for the poor but by using own means
- Christian theology cannot adopt a Marxist analysis without changing from a Christian world view to a Marxist world view
- If theology is linked to political movement, what happens if the political movement fails? Has theology failed?
- In starting from action, it cannot determine which actions might be right and which might be wrong
Criticisms to liberation theology about revolution and Jesus
- Radical revolution leads to the taking of life, something Jesus seems opposed to as a pacifist
- How can we explain Jesus' reluctance to overthrow the Romans or the fact that Christ was crucified and did not lead a revolution to replace the government of the time?
- If salvation requires liberation what happens to those that are imprisoned?
Should Christian theology engage with atheist secular ideologies? NO
- Marxist analysis of the world from economic standpoint contracts Christianity which is a spiritual analysis
- Marxism as a theory is not expressed in Christian sources of faith such as the Bible and makes no space for God
- Leonardo Boff- must ultimately draw inspiration from the Gospel and Marxism can never be allowed to become a central principle of Christian thinking. Must be vigilant in criticism of it
- Questions over the extent to which it adopts political ideologies which distorts own core messages
Should Christian theology engage with atheist secular ideologies? YES
- Christianity has a strong record of engaging with and adapting in response to new insights and will not be corrupted by Marxism borrowing (science and psychology)
- God can be encounter in all things including human thought
- Many liberation theologians are aware of limitations and counsel against adopting it as wholesale without critical analysis
- If theology applies to all aspects of human life then must engage with secular thought
- God created the material world therefore matter and spirit are not separate, wrong to treat religion and politics separately
Does Christianity tackle social issues more effectively than Marxism? NO
- Christian understanding of social issues as symptomatic of a world that has been corrupted by human sin since the Fall
- Marxist understanding of social issues as symptomatic of alienation due to private ownership of the means to production
- If action is required to change a situation in the local community, economic analysis is more appropriate than reading the Bible
Does Christianity tackle social issues more effectively than Marxism? YES
- Communism unable to respond effectively to suffering and poverty in society. Unable to hold back globalisation. China and Cuba begun to open close economies to capitalism in recent years
- Emphasis on spiritual and individual as part of a community= more practical help to those struggling with unhappiness. Doesn't remove suffering but allows comfort, hope and solace. Spiritual strength through uncertain times e.g. through belief in eventual salvation in heaven
- Salvation army
Has liberation theology engaged with Marxism fully enough? YES
- How can Christianity deal with the atheism at the heart of Marxism?
- Gutierrez and Jon Sobrino are guarded and hesitant over use of Marxism
- Ratzinger= to much engagement. Critical of radial liberation theologies which have been insufficiently critical of Marxism
Has liberation theology engaged with Marxism fully enough? NO
- Fails to fully appreciate the significance of Marx's fundamental belief in the need for revolution
- Alistair Kee- "my criticism has been that it is not Marxist enough... resistance to Marx is the cause of its failure"
o Cannot select bits they find helpful and avoid the basic premise on which they are built
o Every new historical stage requires a radical re-assessment of its beliefs and ideas. To survive needs to tackle secularism
o Next stage after secular capitalism could be spiritual socialism
Is it right for Christians to prioritise one group over another? YES
- Trappings of power, wealth and social status do not raise a person's standing in the eyes of God
- Boff and Boff- God is active in the world and sides with the poor "out of love for them, God takes sides"
- Difficult to make the case that should not be deeply concerned with the poor/ oppressed
- Catholic Church invests poverty with special status- vows of poverty taken in many religious orders
- Money is an idol which becomes an absolute value
- "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God"- Luke 6:20
- "But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort."- Luke 6:24
Is it right for Christians to prioritise one group over another? NO
- liberation theology takes it further, suggests that God takes the side of the poor against the rich, in opposition to the wealthy
- The Vatican suggests Jon Sobrino manifests a dangerous preoccupation with the poor, wrong to prioritise one ground over the needs of others, for all are to be saved
- Danger of forgetting the universal nature of salvation
- Jesus spent time with the wealthy who had been corrupted by wealth and power such as Pharisees and tax collectors
- John Paul II- wealth does not shelter people from spiritual poverty and this is as much as concern as material poverty
Ratzinger on violence quotation
"to put ones trust in violent means in the hope of restoring more justice is to become the victim of a fatal illusion: violence begets violence and degrades man
THIS SET IS OFTEN IN FOLDERS WITH...
The Challenge of Secularism
Christian moral action- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Augustine on human nature
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