“Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times” – Esther 1:13 NIV
While in Seminary I took a course titled, Liberation Theology. At the time, I felt that it would be irrelevant and, quite honestly, a waste of time.
Little did I realize how strong and lasting its influence would be in America and around the world. We must understand this false theology/ideology as it serves as a template for understanding the motivations of millions of people from academia, politics, the media, religion (especially the Catholic Church), liberal religious denominations, and even sports commentators and athletes.
I first wrote this teaching article for an 8-week seminar I taught to over 300 people a number of years ago. I will now present this content as a 3-part series over the next few weeks. If you’re inclined, I’d love for you to read all three articles even though the content may be a bit challenging and lengthy. If you read each of them more than once I believe it will help you discern how liberation theology influences so much of the culture around us. Also, we learn best when we have to teach others! Perhaps you could try to explain this false ideology to family member or friend in the coming weeks. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!
There are various liberation movements cropping up right before our eyes and by understanding this ideology, you’ll be better able to explain why Colin Kaepernick refuses to stand for the national anthem, why Serena Williams makes comments about referee’s being prejudice, and why racism is ALWAYS blamed on those in power. It also clarifies why the Democrats are motivated to allow illegal immigrants into our country. It is the foundation stone of Socialism, Black Lives Matter, the Progressive platform of the Democratic Party, the Occupy movement, and the MeToo movement, just to name just a few. By understanding liberation theology, you will be able to better understand the RESIST bumper sticker and tee shirt phenomenon, and why championship NFL, NBA, or other professional teams will not accept invitations to the White House. It would behoove us to “understand the times”
I believe Liberation Ideology is one of the most pervasive and destructive ideologies permeating our culture
The Apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthians that they must understand and destroy arguments, deceptions, and false ideologies that are counter to who God and His Word are. These ideologies and theologies are opposed to God and when they become embedded into the fabric of our culture, they form what the Bible calls, “a stronghold.”
Please read closely the following verses. The primary interpretation of this text is meant to be understood as applying to broader ideologies and arguments raised up against the knowledge of God. The secondary interpretation is for our personal application, that is to “take every thought captive” those thoughts that are contrary to the will of God.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 ESV
The difference between a theology and an ideology is that theology has everything to do with understanding who God is. Theology is literally, the study of God. Often times, major denominations will adhere to a liberation theology and, therefore, interpret God as well as His Word, through the lens of their particular agenda-driven viewpoint.
An ideology is a philosophy or belief system about how life should be lived, usually without God in the equation. Ideologies such as Marxism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Socialism, Progressivism, New Atheism and even some forms of Social Justice, are all forms of liberation ideology. Each of these elevates the state as supreme in one way or another, and each is opposed to God being an influential agent we must take into account for daily living. The repeated theme is that that “the oppressed must break free” or be “liberated” from those who are oppressing them.
Liberation theology understands sin as arising from economic struggles. This is quite different from the Biblical view. If orthodoxy sees Genesis 1-3 as the key to understanding sin, that is the fall of Adam and Eve, liberation theology might be thought of as understanding sin in the light of Exodus 1-3, the deliverance of the Israelites from the oppression of the Egyptians. Liberation theology rejects privatization of sin.
The other day I was working out at 24 Hour Fitness and was sitting in the hot tub with a huge muscular black gentlemen with these Hebrew letters on his shoulder: שָׁלַח.
I inquisitively asked, “Is that Hebrew?” “Yes”, he responded with an affirmative, but somewhat surprised response. “What does it say? What does it mean?” I asked. His response: “free me from oppression.” I am not sure if he really knew the verse, but the verse is from Exodus 5:1 when Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go.” That was the word in Hebrew tattooed on his shoulder.
This ideology is used even religiously as an expression of the oppressed needing to be freed from the oppressor. Who would guess that I would find this ideology in a hot tube at 24 Hour Fitness with a massive, in-shape guy! How fun!
From the biblical perspective we know sin to be an individual’s broken relationship with God due to disobedience, unbelief, rebellion, indifference, and behaviors which are contrary to the nature and the commands of Yahweh God.
Liberation theology, however, is much more concerned about the social and economic dimensions of sin. Thus, James Cone says, “Sin is not primarily a religious impurity, but rather it is the social, political, and economic oppression of the poor.” A major dimension of sin, then, is oppression and exploitation.
Gustavo Gutierrez, an advocate of Liberation Theology, says that to sin is to refuse to love one’s neighbor and, therefore, the Lord Himself. This refusal, whether personal or collective, is the ultimate cause of poverty, injustice, and oppression. Gutiérrez says that the use of violence by oppressors to maintain an inequitable system is unjust and sinful. On the other hand, he justifies the use of violence by the oppressed to liberate themselves.
There is also Black Liberation Theology/Ideology, which espouses that blacks are always the oppressed and whites are always the oppressors. Such movements as The Black Panthers, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the Nation of Islam are modern-day examples of these liberation doctrines. Most of these black liberation proponents believe God is identified with EITHER the oppressed or the oppressor: It cannot be both ways. In James Cone’s view “Black Liberation theology cannot accept a view of God which does NOT represent him as being for blacks and thus against whites. Living in a world of white oppressors, black people have no time for a neutral God.”
Theologians of this persuasion believe that the sin of the enslaved consists in their acquiescence to their oppressed situation. Their sin is trying to understand the enslaver, to love him (Matthew 5:44) on his terms. To accept the oppressive situation, rather than resisting and attempting to overthrow it, is the sin of the oppressed. This is the ideology behind the RESIST logo you will see around town.
The problems of society, whether termed “evils” or “sins,” are seen as resulting from inequitable distribution of power and wealth, and the solution lies in removing these inequities and the attending oppression.
The assumption of liberation theology, as of Marxism, is that it is the economic struggle, and particularly the inequities in power and property, that determine human behavior. Presumably, those who are promoting such inequities are greater sinners, while those who fight injustices are not. In fact, certain liberation theologians will – in some cases – regard a particular action (e.g., killing) as sin if the oppressor commits it, but not if it’s committed by the oppressed in the struggle to remove inequities. The removal of inequities is believed to result in the removal of the occasion of sin as well. Most of these ideologies believe that religion is the oppressor of the people and the means by which people anesthetize the pain of their oppression.
Liberation theology has permeated many countries and and leaders within these countries have embraced its principles, often seeking to implement them within their governing oversight. Liberation theology has not worked in any of the countries of the world who have attempted to implement or sustain it. Countries like Russia, Argentina, and Venezuela have clearly demonstrated that this false ideology is doomed to fail.
When these ideologies prevail there are notable power struggles between the leaders and the oppressed, usually involving violence. It would seem that possession of adequate resources for the supplying of the basic necessities of life does not negate the tendency to seek one’s own satisfaction, even at the expense of others.
Redistribution of power and wealth does not eliminate sin. Wealth simply changes hands, and a few gain the power wielded by the state. These countries end up becoming an oligarchy (a form of government where the power rests in the hands of the few).
Take a Few Steps of Action
• Please reflect on 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5. Define the terms in the text, and articulate modern ideologies that you see in our culture which are contrary to the Word of God.
• From this reading, write up a succinct sentence or two summarizing the main points of Liberation Theology.
• Communicate out loud your understanding of liberation theology to a friend, relative, or even introduce these concepts into your small group church gathering.
• In the next weeks listen for how the media, those in academia, political pundits, and even Christians talk about this ideology and seek to pay attention to what is said. Perhaps you can even speak into the viewpoints you see being expressed with what you are learning?
• Identify how these false ideologies are shaping various elements of society. Write down some notes about this and please, share them with me!
• As always, share what you are learning with others!