Thursday, July 28, 2005

New Community and Liberation Theology

I learned about Liberation Theology in college, and for some reason always associated it with the image of the shades wearing, pistol toating Padre in King of the Hill. After last night's New Community that image has been replaced by the far more genial Robert Guerrero of ICC, Domincan Republic.

The message was out of Exodus 16, where God sends manna from heaven to feed the Isrealites in the desert. The theme was "provisions from God are good, but if you don't follow His instructions it will stink."

The instructions God gives us with regard to our material blessings are meant to safeguard our dependency on Him and to safeguard justice among men.

The instructions he gave the Isrealites with regard to manna were
  1. gather it
  2. don't gather any more or less than you need
  3. don't horde any for tomorrow
  4. don't gather any on the sabbath (thus showing that God is a higher priority than material blessings)

The idea of applying these instructions to our own provisions today is startling and extremely counter cultural. It's tempting to just dismiss them and say "God only meant those instructions for that group of people at that point in history" but Guerrero says no.

He points out that when the Isrealites moved into the promised land God gave them new instructions along the same lines, this time regarding production and debt.

Then in the New Testament Jesus refers back to these principles, and in case any one wants to say that he was doing so in a metaphorical way, Guerrero points out that the first church (Acts 2 and 4) lived out these same principles; "All the believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another. They would sell their property and possessions, and distribute the money among all, according to what each one needed."

A really thought provoking New Community.

For Steph's take visit her excellent blog at this link.


Friar Tuck said...


I like the spirit of the speakers thoughts. Am a little concerned, especially from my own experience, that one could get a little legalistic and self righteous with justice isssues as well as one can in judging other people's personal morality.

I had to read a lot of liberation theology in college and in seminary. This guy sounds like he is passionate, but a little more evangelical than most Marxist/liberationists.

An interesting movie to watch on this, if you can find it, is the movie ROMERO. Compelling movie to be sure.

Scott said...

I never went to college so I have no idea what Liberation Theology is, since that's apparently the place people learn about such things.

Steph Stanger said...

I also never went to college...other then ECC...does that count? And I don't know what Liberation Theology is either. By the way, Robert Guerrero, never used the term Liberation theology at New Community.

kim said...

Don Juan could probably say a lot more about this than I can, but here's what I remember from Theology 101:

Liberation Theology (as it exists today) is a Latin American theology developed in the 60's and 70's which places emphasis on God's liberating work through out history and sees Christ as the ultimate liberator. Liberation Theology draws a parallel between the oppressed people of Latin America and the Isrealites enslavement in Egypt. Liberation Theology states that God is always on the side of the poor and oppressed and so God's people should always be on the side of the poor and oppressed. Liberation Theology is most commonly critisized for having Marxist tendencies and a self-reflecting interpretation of scripture.

I'm not a Marxist but I agree that God is on the side of the little guy and it's my experience that F. Buechner was right when he said that all theology is autobiographical.

Friar Tuck said...

Even more, I think that Liberation Theology in its more liberal and raw sense would say that social justice issues are not just a part of the gospel. It is the central message of the gospel.

Liberation theology has expanded from Latin America and is also found in Feminist theology, African-American theology, and the like as well.

look up James Cone and Phyllis Trible on Wikipedia for examples.