Liberation theology began as a movement with-in the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America in the 1950s and 1960s, but soon found quarter in some sectors of Protestantism. It is a political theology that interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of liberation from unjust economic, political, and social conditions. Proponents say it is the way to view Christian faith through the eyes of the poor; opponents say it is nothing but baptized Marxism.
I tend to side with the detractors, and yet the liberation theologians—people like Gustavo Gutiérrez of Peru, Leonardo Boff of Brazil, and Jon Sobrino of Spain—had one thing right: the church's call to make the cause of the poor its own cause. That often entails challenging unjust regimes that grind the face of the poor ever deeper into misery. Certainly one finds biblical justification for seeking political liberation—for one, in the Exodus story, a great inspiration to blacks caught in the clutches of American racism.
That being said, liberation theology as it usually comes to us seems more indebted to Marx than to Moses. Yet the main problem is not that liberation theology went too far but rather that it did not go far enough. When the Bible—in particular, Jesus—speaks of liberation, there is much more at stake than politics. And it is for this reason, among others, that I think evangelicals should adhere to a liberation theology of our own. And we should frame that theology not with politics but with religion, morality, and spirituality—the three greatest oppressors humanity has ever known.
To be sure, you can't have a Christian life without religion. The Bible recognizes that life in God ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.