Monday, January 08, 2007

Liberating Theology

Let us look at this rather unattractive suggestion more carefully. It is unattractive because it is not like other liberation theologies. Other liberation theologies arise from the cries of the oppressed; but we are not oppressed. This theology will not liberate North Americans from chains of oppression (except, of course, the chains of consumerism!); rather, it implies that we are the oppressors and must, if we are Christians, liberate others from our domination. That is, a liberation theology for us North American Christians should be based on a cruciform lifestyle, expressing and embodying a way of life that will be liberating to others.
Sallie McFague: Life Abundant, p. 34.

First, I have to note that see anything in this paragraph that does not apply to North Europeans as well as Americans. It is perhaps a matter of difference in scale, certainly not in attitude.

Second, I think that even if I agree in general notion that a contextual theology for the Western World should be primarily about liberating the others (bringing freedom to the Middle East, for example, should primarily be about giving them freedom from us), there are some problems with this notion as well. On the one hand I think consumerism is only one of the things we actually need to be liberated. We need to be liberated from our belief in that our leaders are basically morally good and want what's best for us. We need to be liberated from the notion that competition in any area of life produces the best results (it brings out the alternative that is best at competing, nothing else), among other things. So even if the end result is the same, a western liberation theology should also be about liberating us, not only the others.

But a more difficult problem is that notion that the purpose of a western liberation theology is to liberate others risk falling in line with the age-old western belief that it is our purpose to help (read: civilize, Christianize, democratize... colonize), the rest of the world. There is an inherent belief in the supremacy of the White man contained in it. Of course this is not what McFague is intending, but it is still worth noting that liberation must come from within, not from without.

(Yes I chose this book (thanks, Chris!), but I still will chose one more, probably Hart...)

2 comments:

tck said...

"But a more difficult problem is that notion that the purpose of a western liberation theology is to liberate others risk falling in line with the age-old western belief that it is our purpose to help (read: civilize, Christianize, democratize... colonize), the rest of the world. There is an inherent belief in the supremacy of the White man contained in it."

I may not be understanding you fully, do you imply that it's not a Christian's (with a Western background or not) responsibility to "Christianize" the rest of the world?

A.

Patrik said...

No, I meant that the notion that the west is called to rule over the rest over the world is wrong no matter what label you give this.