Is Liberation theology the same as Liberal theology?
To me this is a very important question to ask, both to myself and to others.
It is also one of the questions i feel is separating many Christians from the gospel of liberation.
Let’s first take a look at what liberal theology is thought to be.
Among evangelicals, Roman Catholics and other more conservative Christian groups liberal theology is thought to represent the indifference to the word of the bible (or dogma). Liberal theologians are accused of ”cherry-picking” that is to take from the bible (or dogma) what best suits oneself and to ignore or do away with mostly everything else. This leaves a form of Christianity that is hollow and shaped by humans, rather than a Christianity that shapes humans.
I myself share this thought to some extent and am not overly fond of liberal theology.
What about liberation theology then?
To some that might seem to be ”cherry-picking” as well and accusations are often heard that it is nothing more than a way of using the gospel to promote a political idea.
Granted, this tendency is evident within liberation theology since its founders relies in no small way on the analysis of society made by Karl Marx.
But this is not a tendency that is in any way unique to liberation theology. Just look at the conservative, right wing fundamentalists using their biblical interpretations to justify their opression of the poor, the sick and the unemployed.
So what about liberation theology then? Is it liberal?
To me liberation theology cannot be a liberal interpretation of Gods word, the bible.
Liberation theology to me means to take the gospel presented to us seriously, to try not to interprete and twist it to suit ones own gains, but to let the raw force of the gospel come to life in ones own life and shape us as humans and Christians.
Liberation theology is to me more of a fundamentalist view of the bible than any other view.
Because it cuts through my own comfort and forces me to obey the word given to me rather than to try to find a way of letting that word reinforce my already set beliefs.
To dare to take the gospels message about liberation literary is to take the whole gospel as literary as possible. If not, then we cannot be expected, and do not deserve, to be taken seriously.
What does this mean to me then?
Well, taking the message of liberation literary will also mean that I have to take the message of pacifism literary, as well as the message of mercy and good deeds.
The moment I start to close my eyes to parts of the gospel’s message because it doesn’t suit me, my culture or my tradition, that is the moment I can no longer be taken seriously as a liberation theologian. That is the moment I let humans judge God and not the other way around.
Liberation theology is to have faith in the reality of God and his word.