Warrior Jesus

We here at TAC are sometimes accused of the sins of being Calvinists, militarists, and even Americans. Someone already dealt with the Calvinist charge, but what about militarism? Is it right for us to be castigated for using the word “citadel” to describe a monastery?

What I want to know is this: why should we listen to people who, to make a grand public showing of their deeply-felt moral opposition to militarism and war, constantly nitpick others, question their faith, and inevitably conclude that they worship a different (and presumably better) God while apologizing for a tradition that has never been shy of using militaristic symbols and rhetoric in pursuit of its own goals? I am of course talking about people who apologize for Liberation Theology, which made images such as these popular in Latin America:

Undoubtedly this too would be a “tendency” that one ought to condemn – if one wants to be consistent with the pacifism one tries to push on everyone else. But wait, there’s more!

Christ himself used martial words: he told us in Matthew that he had come not to bring peace, but a sword – a literal and metaphorical sword, for his words caused real divisions among people that lead to real conflicts, some of which were justifiable, and others that were not.

34 Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword.

The New Testament has other martial terminology – consider 1 Thessalonians:

6 Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch, and be sober. 7 For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunk, are drunk in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, having on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

Or Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

16 In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. 17 And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).

If only Paul had been more enlightened! If only Jesus hadn’t been so reckless! Does the bankruptcy of this anti-martial argument need anymore comment?

In all seriousness, it has always been the position of the Church, and even of heretics, that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. Martial analogies/metaphors are entirely appropriate for representing that truth. The images of Liberation Theology, that seek to make Christ another rural peasant rising up in class warfare, are flawed because they are overtly political. Salvation does not flow out of the barrel of a gun.

Each of us would have to win our own personal battle with sin in order for a just society to emerge. I know that will sound terribly “individualistic” to some (we know who), but we are individuals with unique souls. If we cannot win the battle within, between good and evil, righteousness and sin, how can we possibly win it on such a large scale as entire societies?

And no, this is not a call to abandon a legitimate desire for social justice. We should use all the means at our disposal to ensure such justice when and where we can, but only on the understanding that we must purify and sanctify ourselves as individuals before we can hope to cure the ills of society.  Without that, we are only trading one corrupt set of authorities for another. Just look at the moral degenerates who tried to change society in the 60s.

79 Responses to Warrior Jesus

  • Hey Joe. I’ll play devil’s advocate for a second. I think liberation theologians would agree with this: “Salvation does not flow out of the barrel of a gun.” You seem to say that politics necessarily involves coercive force. Is this what you mean?

  • Joe, like everyone else here, deal in caricatures: of liberation theology and of his blogging opponents. I have no issue with use of military imagery in Christian tradition. I have a problem with the misuse of that imagery in the service of a pro-america and pro-military agenda. That is a profound misuse of the imagery: it is completely backwards.

    But go ahead an ignore the context of my argument, and the specific charges I made against your co-blogger. It’s a lot more fun to just say “Hey Jesus used war imagery too!”

    You’re definitely one of the better ones around here, but it seems like you have thrown your lot in with the you-know-what’s.

  • The images of Liberation Theology, that seek to make Christ another rural peasant rising up in class warfare, are flawed because they are overtly political.

    Not only does Joe misunderstand (i.e. know nothing about) liberation theology.. he seems to believe in a docetic Christ.

  • Zach,

    People who believe that sin can be eliminated through social engineering and/or revolution are ultimately agreeing with that statement. People who want to subordinate the liturgy and catechesis to a socio-political agenda ultimately agree with it as well.

    The Marxist argument is that there really is no objective morality – there is the morality of the oppressed class and the oppressor class. That thinking seeps into LT. When the Church acknowledges the legitimacy of the state and its role in combating moral corruption, they interpret it as the Church defending one class at the expense of another.

    LT wasn’t needed when the Church endorsed organized labor and supported workers rights in the Western world, and it shouldn’t be needed anywhere else. The Church already does, in its traditional social teaching, fully acknowledge the rights of workers, peasants, poor people, etc. It already fully acknowledges the “social sins” that LT was supposedly devised to bring attention to and combat.

    In other words, the Church already has a liberation theology, in the individual and social sense, and it always had it.

  • Joe – You have NO IDEA what you are talking about. ZERO.

    Find me texts from liberation theologians who say such things. If you’re going to claim that these ideas “seep into” LT, then produce the texts or shut up.

  • We always need to have guns at our disposal. Sometimes we need to use them (as weapons). Jesus should never be depicted with a gun (I will make an exception for the movie Mickey Blue Eyes :) ). Guns, Jesus don’t need no stinkin’ guns.

    We are at war . . . Fr. Corapi begins many a lesson with that battle cry and follows up with Ephesians 6. Holy Mother Church loves her Sons to be soldiers for Christ and the battle within sometimes spills out. God help us when it does; however, to be a pacifist in either the interior life, or the social or military spheres of the world we live in is to be a coward and the Holy Spirit that unites us is no cowardly Spirit.

    If TAC wasn’t American and militaristic why bother reading it? Catholic means universal and we have many different flavors of orthodox Catholicity to choose from and we must tolerate the other (good) forms but that doesn’t mean we have to like them.

  • “We here at TAC are sometimes accused of the sins of being Calvinists…”

    So that’s what K of C stands for: Knights of Calvin!

    Sorely disappointed… you folks are nothing more than 4th degree Calvinists! =)

  • I find this post an absolute mystery, unless it’s some deep attempt at humor.

    From my perspective, many Catholics have a dualistic approach to philosophy: there’s what I believe, and then there’s everyone who disagrees with me.

    Joe may well feel at home lumping together pacifists, anarchists, marxists, Protestants, witches, psychoanalysts, and Latinos. But all he really seems to be saying is that “I’m not them.” Fair enough. But don’t mistake it for serious commentary.

  • MI,

    It’s always fun to see that six of your comments are in the moderation queue. Touched a nerve, did I?

    Because I have nothing better to do…

    “Joe, like everyone else here, deal in caricatures”

    You are simply unbelievable. You calls “christo-fascists” and you now whine about caricatures! All you have ever done here is reduce me and everyone else to one caricature after another. One a scale of 1-10 your credibility when speaking about “caricatures” is about a -100.

    “I have no issue with use of military imagery in Christian tradition.”

    Really? Because all of those extra comments you made came only after the rest of us failed to see the wisdom of your initial statements, and after you accused me specifically in an earlier discussion of wanting a church of “swords and dusty books” or dusty something or other.

    “I have a problem with the misuse of that imagery in the service of a pro-america and pro-military agenda.”

    What agenda? What are you talking about? You got hot and bothered by the word “citadel.”

    “But go ahead an ignore the context of my argument”

    Your argument? You didn’t make an argument, you just came out swinging, and only now have made a feeble attempt to contextualize your earlier outburst. There is no argument here.

    “but it seems like you have thrown your lot in with the you-know-what’s”

    When you, Michael, only see the world in terms of “people who are like me” versus “people who are like them”, then it is no surprise to me that this is how things “seem” to you.

    “Not only does Joe misunderstand (i.e. know nothing about) liberation theology.. he seems to believe in a docetic Christ.”

    It’s simply false to say I know nothing about it. I do know something about it. I’ve studied it both as a graduate student in political theory and as a member of a Marxist political party. I’ll grant that I’ve read some pretty general, but I think, trustworthy descriptions of the history and purpose of the movement and the role that Marxism played.

    But I guess the guy who thinks that the last two Popes didn’t even know LT well enough to criticize it properly (they didn’t “engage it”, right?) isn’t going to listen to me or anyone else either. For my part, in addition to being able to form my own judgments on the material I have read, I also trust that JPII and B16 know what they are talking about as well.

    And as for a “docetic Christ”, what are you trying to do here? Impress people with your use of an obscure word? What an unbelievably ridiculous and baseless thing to say. Evidence?

  • Todd,

    “I find this post an absolute mystery, unless it’s some deep attempt at humor.”

    Have you followed MI’s meltdown over Don’s use of the word “citadel”?

    “From my perspective, many Catholics have a dualistic approach to philosophy: there’s what I believe, and then there’s everyone who disagrees with me.”

    Good thing I’m not one of them! In spite of what you say next…

    “Joe may well feel at home lumping together pacifists, anarchists, marxists, Protestants, witches, psychoanalysts, and Latinos. But all he really seems to be saying is that “I’m not them.” Fair enough. But don’t mistake it for serious commentary.”

    Huh? What are you talking about? Give me a little credit, please. I am always willing to acknowledge commonalities and even embrace them. But clear lines also have to be drawn.

    It seems to me that you’re the one who wants to put me in a nice little category, separate from you – “there’s people like me, who are like, sew open minded, and then there’s people like Joe, who are all, you know, like judgmental and stuff. Yah.”

    Everyone overlaps a little with everyone else, and no two people are identical. Duh.

  • Joe – Produce the texts. “Trusting” JPII and Benedict will not do. Do your own homework. Produce the texts to support your claims. Or shut up about liberation theology.

  • And as for a “docetic Christ”, what are you trying to do here? Impress people with your use of an obscure word? What an unbelievably ridiculous and baseless thing to say. Evidence?

    You always jump to that sort of approach when you feel threatened. No, I’m not trying to impress anyone. I presume that many of the more educated readers of your blog know what the heresy of docetism is. For Catholics, that word should not be “obscure.”

    The charge is not “baseless.” I quoted above the evidence, and I’ll quote it again:

    The images of Liberation Theology, that seek to make Christ another rural peasant rising up in class warfare, are flawed because they are overtly political.

    Let’s take this apart. You say that liberation christology:

    1) makes Christ into “another”
    2) “rural”
    3) “peasant”
    4) who “rises up in class warfare”
    5) and this is an incorrect christology because it is “overtly political.”

    As for (2) and (3) Christ was a historical person, so we can talk about what he was like in the concrete. Countless biblical scholars and theologians describe Jesus as a rural peasant. That’s not an unusual claim, and in most circles it’s kind of taken for granted. If you find it controversial, then you could perhaps explain why you find it to be so. Is it the “rural” that you don’t like? Can’t imagine Jesus as a “peasant”?

    Was he simply “another” (1) rural peasant. No, of course not. He is the Christ. I know of no liberation theologian would would call Jesus “just another rural peasant.” Do you? Please cite the text.

    As for (4) the notion of class in liberation theology, when present, is more complex than you make it out to be. Class warfare is not something one “takes up,” but a permanent feature that already exists in capitalism. It is a system that is necessarily based in two classes who have opposing interests. What Latin American liberation theologians discussed was not “taking up” class warfare but becoming conscious of one’s status as being part of an oppressed class. Some liberationists describe Jesus’ ministry as including a kind of conscientization of the marginalized and oppressed people of Galilee. Not only liberationists argue this way either. It’s a widespread position in New Testament studies. I know of no liberation theologian who claims that Jesus “took up class warfare.” Do you? Cite the text.

    As for (5), how can any christology that is truly orthodox NOT include the political dimensions of who Jesus was as a human person? Attention to Jesus’ political context is essential to any orthodox christology for it is part of what it means that he was truly human. To continually resist “political” understandings of Jesus and his ministry in favor of a purely “spiritual” understanding in which Jesus in not situated in history in a given place and time is to fall into docetism.

    Did your study of liberation theology include reading any texts by actual liberation theologians, or did you read surveys? Just wondering. If you have read actual texts by liberation theologians, I’d be interested to know which ones. And as you can see above, I’m very interested in you citing some texts to back up your claims.

  • “You always jump to that sort of approach when you feel threatened.”

    So this is what you tell yourself now – you’ve “threatened” me. Is that what really makes you feel better? So be it.

    “As for (2) and (3) Christ was a historical person, so we can talk about what he was like in the concrete.”

    He had a body, yes – for you to say that I believe in a “docetic” Christ is to say that I deny that basic fact, which is completely absurd.

    What I do deny, without shame, is any attempt to situate Christ within the Marxist historical materialism, including class struggle.

    “Countless biblical scholars and theologians describe Jesus as a rural peasant.”

    With, as God, all of the knowledge, wisdom, and love in the universe. Even if he actually were of a rural peasant peasant family – which I don’t think has been established with some sort of unfalsifiable certitude – it really wouldn’t make a difference, would it?

    If your position is that denying God in the flesh would even be slightly “influenced” by historical forces, class position, or any other materialistic factor makes one a “docetist”, then I will accept the label. That is my position.

    But that isn’t what Docetism is, and if you’re educated enough to use the word, you darn well know it.

    ” Is it the “rural” that you don’t like? Can’t imagine Jesus as a “peasant”?”

    I can’t imagine it having the slightest thing to do with the truth of his message.

    “Class warfare is not something one “takes up,” but a permanent feature that already exists in capitalism.”

    Way to split those hairs. Fine, call it “armed class struggle” if you like.

    “What Latin American liberation theologians discussed was not “taking up” class warfare but becoming conscious of one’s status as being part of an oppressed class.”

    “Some liberationists describe Jesus’ ministry as including a kind of conscientization of the marginalized and oppressed people of Galilee. Not only liberationists argue this way either. It’s a widespread position in New Testament studies.”

    Yes, the historicizing of everything, up to and including the most elementary moral teachings of the Scriptures. Jesus did not come here to offer a political program to the “marginalized and oppressed people of Galilee.” There isn’t the slightest shred of evidence to substantiate such a claim.

    ” I know of no liberation theologian who claims that Jesus “took up class warfare.” Do you? Cite the text.”

    Really? Then what was Camilo Torres doing in the jungles of Colombia? Have you never heard his famous quote:

    “If Jesus were alive today, He would be a guerrillero.”

    “As for (5), how can any christology that is truly orthodox NOT include the political dimensions of who Jesus was as a human person?”

    I don’t exclude it! But it is not rooted in a particular class, and it certainly has nothing to do with “class struggle.” It is in fact quite the opposite, establishing what our moral duties are given our class, towards other classes. Hierarchy is a permanent feature of society, no matter how much people whine about it. It can either be structured according to the social teaching of the Church, derived from the Gospels and Tradition, or structured by secular ideologies.

    “And as you can see above, I’m very interested in you citing some texts to back up your claims.”

    What is the claim you think I need to back up? That Marxism is a part of LT?

    What I’d like to know is, on what grounds do you dismiss what the Popes have said about LT? I haven’t made any claim about it that hasn’t been based on one of their criticisms. Cardinal Ratzinger’s instruction is what I base my view of LT on, that, and my extensive experience with Marxism itself.

  • You keep repeating this “class warfare” nonsense. Repeating it will not make it true. Your Torres quote unfortunately is not what I asked for: a citation of a liberation theologian who said that Jesus took up armed class warfare. You can cite none.

    I don’t exclude it! But it is not rooted in a particular class, and it certainly has nothing to do with “class struggle.”

    Jesus was not of a particular class? Really? How is that possible? Are you saying he was not human, embedded in history with a particular identity?

    The Church’s social teaching includes the option for the poor now, whether you like it or not, and this is based in part on the praxis of Jesus. This has everything to do with class. More than class, sure, but it certainly includes class.

    What is the claim you think I need to back up?

    I’ve pointed out quite clearly in each case which claims I’d like you to back up. Wiggle your cursor finger, scroll back up, and note which claims I’d like you to back up. It’s not difficult. One of them is your claim that liberation theologians portray Jesus as engaged in something called “class warfare” which you subsequently qualified as “armed class struggle.” If it is true that liberation theologians portray Jesus as encouraging armed class struggle, THEN PROVE IT WITH A TEXT.

    That Marxism is a part of LT?

    No, I didn’t ask you to back this up. It’s obvious. So obvious that’s it’s meaningless. Marxism is “a part of” Catholic social teaching. The church, including liberation theologians, have incorporated what is true in Marxism into Catholic thought. The question is what aspects of Marxism liberation theologians have used. You give the impression that they embrace all of it, indeed that they embrace some version of “Marxism” that you have in mind (there are many versions of Marxism — if you have really studied it in any depth you should know this).

    What I’d like to know is, on what grounds do you dismiss what the Popes have said about LT?

    I don’t dismiss what they say. If the version of liberation theology that they critique actually exists, then they are right about those versions. But they cite NO ONE and in my studies I have seen no evidence of the distortions that they claim exist. Here they are not distinguishing between the practice of various Christians and liberation theologians. When they critique something called “liberation theology” I assume they mean the latter. But the image that they critique is just that: an image with little reality. In fact many liberation theologians have actually praised the CDF statements on liberation theology, saying that if such a theology existed it should rightly be criticized, but that what they are doing bears little resemblance to those caricatures.

    I haven’t made any claim about it that hasn’t been based on one of their criticisms. Cardinal Ratzinger’s instruction is what I base my view of LT on, that, and my extensive experience with Marxism itself.

    PRECISELY MY POINT. You are not engaging liberation theology at all. You merely parrot what the CDF statements say. That will not cut it.

    Quit wasting our time with your talk about liberation theology if you are not going to actually engage it and discuss actual theologians and texts. You have no grounds to make the claims you do unless you actually read liberation theology. NONE. You “extensive experience with Marxism itself” (as if there is only one form of Marxism) won’t do either. You need some experience with liberation theology (not Ratzinger, not “Marxism”) before you can comment on it. Period.

  • What is this obsession with “the text” – as if a historical quotation could not possibly serve the same purpose?

    Camilo Torres was a founder of LT. Camilo Torres believed that Jesus, were he alive today, would be an armed revolutionary. Why isn’t that sufficient? Do you deny that he said it?

    “Jesus was not of a particular class? Really? How is that possible? Are you saying he was not human, embedded in history with a particular identity?”

    That depends on what you mean by “human person.” I believe God incarnated in a human body, which makes me a Catholic and a Christian, not a “Docetist” – one of the most disingenuous things you have ever claimed here, btw.

    But what could this “particular identity” be? A human identity, shaped, even structured, by historical and material forces beyond it’s control? You would put such petty limitations on the God who created the universe, the very conditions by which we are influenced in the first place?

    “The Church’s social teaching includes the option for the poor now, whether you like it or not”

    I never claimed otherwise, and I never claimed I didn’t like it.

    “If it is true that liberation theologians portray Jesus as encouraging armed class struggle, THEN PROVE IT WITH A TEXT.”

    Why is the actual life history of one of the founders of LT not sufficient for you? Is there something about the biography, beliefs, and recorded quotes of Camilo Torres that falls outside some weird criteria for truth that you hold?

    “But they cite NO ONE and in my studies I have seen no evidence of the distortions that they claim exist.”

    So what you’re saying is, you know more about LT than the Papacy. Ok.

    “You merely parrot what the CDF statements say. That will not cut it.”

    Because those statements aren’t up to your immaculate standards, right? So you’re saying, don’t trust the teaching of the Church, trust Michael Iafrate.

    “Quit wasting our time with your talk about liberation theology if you are not going to actually engage it and discuss actual theologians and texts.”

    I’ll make you a deal. You find me something I can read, online, and I will read it. Something you think is sufficient to impart a basic knowledge of LT, an academic journal article perhaps (I have access to JSTOR if you want to give me a title or an author or both).

    But I absolutely reject the notion that I can’t “comment” on LT until I’ve completed your reading list. There isn’t a whole lot you can say to convince me that B16 doesn’t know what he is talking about when he criticizes LT. Sorry, Michael, but I do trust his analysis. I’ve found it reliable on many other matters, so I’m going to accept it here, until I see it proven wrong myself.

    But I am deadly serious – you recommend some reading, and I will do it. I can’t really go out and buy books right now, but anything online, I’ll read it.

  • And as for this:

    “(there are many versions of Marxism — if you have really studied it in any depth you should know this).”

    I don’t know what this is, other than just the most childish, irrelevant nonsense.

    Yes, there are many “versions” of Marxism – but there are core ‘doctrines’ that one must accept to be any kind of Marxist. That is the “Marxism” to which I refer. The philosophy of dialectical materialism, the method of historical materialism, the political program of class struggle.

    Of course the different branches might disagree on what these mean in details and application. Duh. So what? To say that there can’t possibly be any sort of general description of Marxism is nonsensical.

  • I also realized – there has been a LOT of confusion on this post, I suspect, due to MI’s knee-jerk reaction.

    It dawned on me now, and it should have much earlier, that by this:

    “The images of Liberation Theology, that seek to make Christ another rural peasant rising up in class warfare, are flawed because they are overtly political.”

    He thought I meant the words… as in the images they seek to conjure up with words. That’s my charitable interpretation anyway.

    What I in fact meant were the IMAGES, the ones I posted. It wasn’t my claim that LT TEXTS said Christ was another peasant rising up in class warfare, but that he was drawn that way (let he who has eyes to see, see).

    That aside, I still think the biography and quotation of LT founder Camilo Torres at least PARTIALLY makes my point. I won’t claim LT is monolithic, but MI shouldn’t deny that the “Jesus would have picked up a gun” rhetoric isn’t there either.

  • Joe

    Torres is NOT THE FOUNDER OF LT. Indeed, he is not a part of the movement.

  • Once again, you display your complete inability to read.

    I did not say “the.” I SAID “A”. A as in, not the only one, which I would have used THE to denote, had I meant THE, and not A.

    The only reason he WASN’T (he is dead) more involved in the movement is that he was killed in combat before it really got off the ground.

  • So, I’ve done as MI asked, and looked for quotes from the man himself, Gustavo Gutierrez, from the book itself, “A Theology of Liberation” and other essays.

    I don’t think anything I said, or for that matter, then Cardinal Ratzinger said, was off the mark. No matter how you dress it up, the message is that “traditional” religion reinforces the status quo, while “liberation theology” challenges it. Of Catholicism in Latin America before LT, GG writes,

    “On the surface it seemed to bear the hallmark of spiritual and religious traits, but in reality it stemmed from a seriously reductionist view of the gospel message… The gospel message was thus rendered as innocuous as a lap dog. From such a gospel the great and powerful of this world had little to fear and much to gain. Their support and backing of it was quickly forthcoming.”

    This is why Michael always claims that we worship different Gods – his God of the “marginalized and oppressed” versus, I suppose, “our God” of the middle class. Or as GG claims, we “reduce” the Gospel, instead of trying to draw from them a ready-made political ideology we can apply to 20th century problems.

    The irony is that I fully support a people’s right to resist a regime that denies them their God-given rights. There is Romans 13, and there is Acts 5:29. We have a duty to resist when we must. We don’t need LT to tell us that, we don’t need to “reduce” Jesus to a rabble-rouser who wanted to stir up trouble for the Romans and the Jews on behalf of the poor. This reeks more of political opportunism than anything else, an attempt to shake the poor out of their perceived complacency by rewriting their religion for them.

    One does not need to re-write Catholic teachings and tradition to fight for justice. That is the false assumption. It is just as false as whatever previous notions reigned about the apoliticism of Christianity. It is not possible to “render” the Gospels “as innocuous as a lap dog”, nor is it an appropriate response to sex them up with revolutionary rhetoric, with the notion that “the system must be smashed.” For

    It is hearts that must be converted, and wills brought into alignment with God’s. The plain and absolute truth is that every soul won for Christ, truly won, truly comprehending of its moral obligations, is of far greater value to any eventual social transformation than any of the theorizing we engage in on this forum or anywhere else.

    A soul humble and contrite before God – that is all we need. Everything else will follow from that, everything. And without it, nothing is possible. Absolutely nothing.

  • “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

    I believe firmly in that truth written by Mr. Jefferson as an article of my political beliefs. However, Christ while He was on Earth had absolutely nothing to do with the political movements of His time that sought to expel the Romans from Judeae. He was not a political messiah, and attempts in our own day to transform Him into such completely miss the message of the Gospels. The attempt to meld Christianity and Marxism is totally wrong-headed, and transforms the Faith from the path to Eternal Salvation into simply another competing ideology in the political marketplace.

  • To depict Christ toting weapons Himself is one thing. However, I did once meet a Passionist priest whose “hobby” was collecting images of Christ from various times, places, and cultures — he had over 10,000 at the time.

    One of his most interesting images depicted Christ on the Cross clad in a gas mask and WWI style “doughboy” uniform; it had obviously been made during the “Great War.” The intent, however, seemed to be to show Christ sharing the suffering of the front-line soldiers, or perhaps to say that the war in effect crucified Christ all over again. That’s not quite the same, at least in my opinion, as showing Christ as the gun-toting warrior Himself.

  • Someone please liberate Michael from his political-theology. Try as you might, you are not going to convince anyone that Jesus was a Marxist. (just for the record He wasn’t a Republican either :) ).

    When are Communists finally going to get it? Communism is a lie. Liberation Theology is communist. Liberation Theology is a lie. Try as you might, you can never justify it, it will never work to achieve the ends you claim to want and it will always be oppressive to the very classes it purports to liberate.

    Thank God for the Sacrament of Penance and thank God He forgives commies too.

  • “Thank God for the Sacrament of Penance and thank God He forgives commies too.”

    I should know!

    I belonged to a movement that made LT look like child’s play. Orwell was right – these people play with fire without realizing that fire is hot.

  • “Orwell was right – these people play with fire without realizing that fire is hot.”

    Typical bourgeois ignorance. That comment is full of elitist snobbery. You are obviously trying to incite class warfare. Jesus should mow you down with a Thompson machine gun. In case your elitist mind can’t grasp it, that was a metaphor – just ask Johnny Graziosi :)

  • Chill out Joe . . . you had to know the Vox Nova trolls would be out for blood after this post. :)

    This from michael is completely bogus:

    As for (5), how can any christology that is truly orthodox NOT include the political dimensions of who Jesus was as a human person? Attention to Jesus’ political context is essential to any orthodox christology for it is part of what it means that he was truly human. To continually resist “political” understandings of Jesus and his ministry in favor of a purely “spiritual” understanding in which Jesus in not situated in history in a given place and time is to fall into docetism.

    There’s no “political” understanding of Jesus that is remotely consistent with michael’s belligerent leftist whining. Jesus’ only forays into the political world of his day were to 1) tell people to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and 2) tell people to engage in radical submission to Roman oppression (if he asks you to walk one mile, walk two). Nothing could be imagined that is more opposite to the sort of radical leftist politics that michael prefers.

  • Brilliant indictment, Joe – that liberation theologians are accusing mainstream Catholics of politicizing religion. Hilarious.

  • Joe – Henry is right. Torres was not “the” founder or LT, nor was he even “a” founder of LT. He was a priest who left the church to become a guerrilla. Few liberation theologians refer to him; when they do it is usually disapproving. (I only say usually because I can’t claim to have read everything. But I have seen no one who cites him approvingly.) Citing Torres as an example if LT at all let alone a representative view is misleading. And wrong.

    So what you’re saying is, you know more about LT than the Papacy. Ok.

    Joe, you’re smarter than this. You don’t need to twist what I have said in order to “win” an argument. I certainly think some people know more about liberation theology than JPII and Benedict. Maybe the latter know more about it than they let on. But the documents they have produced to not suggest that they know very much about it.

    Because those statements aren’t up to your immaculate standards, right? So you’re saying, don’t trust the teaching of the Church, trust Michael Iafrate.

    Again, twisting my words. I trust the teaching of the church. I appreciate the church’s warnings about “liberation theology.” If the version that they warn about actually existed, I would condemn it too. But it doesn’t. Read some liberation theology.

    Your commentary on Gutierrez shows how seriously you are willing to take liberation theology. You intentionally distort what he says just like you distort what I say and what all of your opponents say. This is how you must try to win arguments apparently. You need to be willing to read this stuff on its own terms and understand what it’s actually saying but you’re not willing to do that.

    At this point it’s clear that you’re more into spreading falsehood than you are in understanding and dialogue. Which is another way of saying you are intentionally lying about liberation theology after you have repeatedly been shown by people who know more about it than you do that you are dead wrong. You’re more interested in satisfying your blogging cheerleaders than you are in serious discussion. I will continue to challenge your lies because you need to be called out. But I won’t take this “discussion” seriously until you will.

  • What arrogance on the part of MI to assume he knows more than two absolutely brilliant popes about any theology. I don’t know him at all but he has to be a gradaute student. For some reason graduate students of which I was one about five years ago don’t realize what they don’t know. The real world outside of academia (or having children) quickly cures a person of arrogance. Even an arrogant gradaute student who claims to be a faithful Catholic would read the condemnamtions of two recent popes and would submit to their authority on matters of theology which may be dangerous to one’s soul.

  • “That aside, I still think the biography and quotation of LT founder Camilo Torres”

    I do not see “a” in there. More importantly, he is not a founder of LT. That’s the issue. He predates LT. Of course his ideas, as with the ideas of so many others, Christian and non-Christian, good and bad, were reflected upon in the development of LT. Would you call Aquinas a founder of LT since they reflected upon his thoughts? Probably not. Torres is not from the tradition under discussion.

    Instead of chiding me for not being able to read, perhaps you would do well to know what you are talking about.

  • Brian

    As has been posted on here before (read Christopher’s essay on LT), Liberation Theology has not been condemned. The Popes did not condemn Liberation Theology. There have been aspects of certain theologians criticized and rejected, but that does not condemn the whole movement, just as criticism of various scholastic theses did not condemn scholasticism. As such, one must wonder where the arrogance lies? Is it — with you?

  • Joe said “Camilo Torres was a founder of LT.”

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/01/04/warrior-jesus/#comment-29117

    Not giving a rat’s tuchus about LT, I can’t speak to whether Mr. Torres actually was or was not, but Joe clearly said “*a* founder.”

    Back to the pissing match.

  • We have a duty to resist when we must. We don’t need LT to tell us that,

    Perhaps not. Who, though, was telling Latin American Catholics this in the years before Fr. Gutierrez & Co. began writing?

    we don’t need to “reduce” Jesus to a rabble-rouser who wanted to stir up trouble for the Romans and the Jews on behalf of the poor.

    I completely agree. Is this what Fr. Gutierrez advocates in his writing?

  • Dale

    He also said what I quoted above: “That aside, I still think the biography and quotation of LT founder Camilo Torres”

    By that second quote, it transforms him from being “a founder” to “of LT founder” Of course the “of LT founder” is “a founder” but “of LT founder” also has other connotations. And, as a point of fact, he is not a founder/the founder of LT.

  • Tom

    I doubt Joe and many others in here have read Gutierrez, nor can they differentiate between the different kinds of theologians doing liberation theology. It’s just easier to make them all militant rabble-rousers. Strawmen always are easier to defeat.

  • Thanks for the response, Joe, way back when. To respond to your questions, no I didn’t follow Michael’s so-called meltdown.

    I wrote in an earlier comment I didn’t quite follow you on this entry. Lots of bloggers feel they have to pull in every little philosophical stance when they write. If the post is about Michael, then keep it there. If its about military images of Jesus, then it has nothing to do with him unless he illustrated them.

    No, I don’t have a driving need to categorize.
    If I have an agenda it would be to see you tighten up your logic. I don’t have a problem with human beings making judgments, assuming they have a good set of facts at their disposal to back it up.

    As for the debate about Camilo Torres, he was an activist–not a theologian. A Roman collar does not make a theologian. Torres might be best described as a predecessor of LT, and his life’s focus after ordination was advocacy for the poor through political action.

    Again, it’s a matter of widening the discussion on sites like this. The blog authors and most all of their commentariat simply do not have the experience, knowledge, or credibility to be making judgments on liberation theology. You can pull all the B16 and JPII quotes off Google that you want. LT isn’t going anywhere.

    If you were serious about discussing it, you would find real liberation theology advocates who would be able to respond to accusations, and in turn, challenge the holes in your own beliefs and perceptions. Lacking that, this is another experience in cafeteria Catholicism: you don’t like this item at the buffet, so you go somewhere else for nourishment.

  • Henry:

    Fine. I take your word for it. As I said, I don’t care about LT. I’m sure it’s worthy of study, but there’s only so much time in my day.

    I do care rather more about tiresome shots concerning reading comprehension. It’s one of the things that drive me from blogs at high speed.

    I’m all for factual rebuttals. Accusations of perceived cognitive deficiencies, not so much.

  • It would seem that any liberation theology that posits the social order in terms of class warfare is already in conflict with Catholic Social teaching.

  • “LT isn’t going anywhere.”

    Certainly not in the Catholic Church.

  • Henry:

    Do you find that calling people idiots on their blogs generally leads to fruitful discussion?

  • I will say one thing for Liberation Theology however: if President of Paraguay and ex-bishop Fernando Lugo is typical of Liberation Theology in practice, it does have certain elements of low comedy about it:

    http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/l/fernando_lugo_mendez/index.html

    Here is a link to a picture of Leonardo Boff, Fernando Lugo and Aleida Guevera, a grandaughter of Che, and an article by our Christopher Blosser on liberation theology and Lugo the Lech.

    http://www.ratzingerfanclub.com/blog/2008/08/fernando-lugo-and-leonardo-boff.html

  • Michael J. Iafrate Monday, January 4, 2010 A.D. at 6:02 pm
    “Joe, like everyone else [sic!] here, deal in caricatures: of liberation theology and of his blogging opponents. I have no issue with use of military imagery in Christian tradition. I have a problem with the misuse of that imagery in the service of a pro-america…”

    That at least make clear that Mr. Iafrate dislikes a “pro-America” agenda.

  • Well it seems that Bishop Lugo is interested in distribution of a sort.

  • Msgr. Ronald Knox writes [WHAT CATHOLICS BELIEVE, P.220] “The Church’s primary pre-occupation is to help men make the best of the conditions in which they find themselves; whereas the primary preoccupation of the modern reformer is to tell men to better the conditions and to hope for a new race of men. Our work is to colonize heaven; their to breed for Utopia”.

  • Could you please approve my comment because I deal with certain charges that are being made against me and against liberation theology. It would be nice to be able to defend myself.

    Not allowing my comments to come through until much later enables commenters and Joe himself to continue giving the impression that I “reject” the teaching of the popes when I do not. I’d appreciate the comment being approved so my position could be made clear. (But I see why Joe would not want my position to be made clear, of course. He wants to perpetuate myths and lies.)

    [I believe that Joe had made clear earlier that he was going to be offline until late afternoon, and since he owns the thread all comments that hit moderation rules have been sitting there. I'm going ahead and releasing all comments to avoid bad feeling, but I'd advise comments such as Michael to stop attributing to malice what is much more easily explained in other ways. If you weren't usually more disruptive than substantive, you wouldn't be on the moderation queue in the first place. --Darwin]

  • It would be nice to be able to defend myself.

    Coincidentally, I have been trying to do the same thing in a thread at Vox Nova, but Michael has prevented me.

  • In the comments of yours that I deleted, Tom, you were certainly not trying to “defend yourself.”

  • michael,

    He wants to perpetuate myths and lies.

    This is yet another example of why so many tend to view your opinions as little more than a source of amusement. The hostility and derision just seeps through and through, the reason you have been called out so strongly by nw among a wide variety of others.

    It really isn’t that hard to take the posture of “here is where I disagree, and why,” regardless of how or what others are communicating whatever.

    Let people write what they write and treat others decently. Many are quite capable of politicization and personalization and assuming the worst of others, but you really do take it to new heights, and it speaks very badly of you.

  • Tom

    I did’t see what you wrote, so I don’t know what Michael edited out. What Michael is saying though is that if you were criticized as being heretical, either through direct accusation or implication, he would allow you to defend yourself. However, he does not always allow all comments through, and I don’t think he expect all comments of his to go through in all places at all times (but he expects at least those on topic and deal with what others have said to get through, especially if people refer to his comments and no one can see them, making them open for criticism without a defense).

  • Perhaps Tom could post his deleted comment here for all to see.

  • I’ll let what I wrote above stand, and I apologize to Joe & Co. for diverting the thread.

  • To get a taste for Leonardo Boff, perhaps the best known of Liberationist Theologians, here is a link to a column he wrote in praise of Fidel Castro:

    http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/marxism/2006w32/msg00362.htm

    Here are some of his musings after the election of Pope Benedict.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/boff04252005.html

    Leonardo Boff is a man of the hard Left. There is small mystery why Leftists would embrace him.

  • Boff is not the “best known,” and certainly not the most important. Boff certainly has problems. However, he is but one example. It would be like bringing up Peter Abelard and his condemnations to reject medieval theology.

  • Those are good resources on Boff, Donald. Thanks for sharing them. They do provide a taste for where he is coming from. None of it is contrary to Catholicism. Considering his treatment by Ratzinger (which is detailed in a book by Harvey Cox for those interested) that second piece is quite restrained and respectful.

  • And yes I agree with Henry that there are problems with Boff’s theology. But I think they have more to do with his ecclesiology than with his liberationist commitments.

  • Well, first of all, I’m not even going to debate this ridiculous nonsense about “at” v. “the.”

    Camilo Torres is always mentioned in popular expositions of Liberation Theology. If you even search for these two phrases together, you will get dozens of hits, and not to websites that condemn, but rather hail the association.

    Maybe these websites aren’t accurate. Maybe they are. The point is, it is a pretty popular perception.

    “You don’t need to twist what I have said in order to “win” an argument.”

    I twisted nothing. It is the impression you give, that you know more about LT than the current and former Pope. Now that you’ve clarified, I don’t think that.

    “You need to be willing to read this stuff on its own terms and understand what it’s actually saying but you’re not willing to do that.”

    What does that even mean “on its own terms”?

    “Which is another way of saying you are intentionally lying about liberation theology after you have repeatedly been shown by people who know more about it than you do that you are dead wrong.”

    First of all, I’m not lying about anything. If you call me a liar again, I will summarily ban you from this blog.

    Secondly, what have you shown me? Nothing. All you did was scream like an angry child, “show me the TEXT! show me the TEXT!” Then I go to look at a text, and I’m not “reading it on it’s own terms.”

    What claims did I make that were lies? I tried clear up the confusion for you – you apparently thought I meant something by “images” other than the actual images I showed. As for the, like, two things I said to Zach in my first post here that you took issue with, I made clear that those were based upon my reading of Ratzinger’s instruction (is that all lies too?), and I think my subsequent reading of GG bore out what I initially said.

    What more do I need to do? Go to Michael Iafrate University to learn Michael Iafrate hermeneutics before I can read anything about Liberation Theology?

    I’m not even going to dignify your self-righteous, disgustingly hypocritical whining about my behavior with further responses. I asked you if you would provide me with some sources to read online about LT.

    If you want to provide them, please do. But please, don’t tell me how to read.

  • Todd,

    It is not “Cafeteria Catholicism” to reject a body of thought promulgated by a random group of Catholics somewhere in the world.

    Cafeteria Catholicism is picking and choosing what basic tenants of the Catholic faith, of which LT is most certainly not, one will choose to follow.

    I’m pretty sure I don’t engage in that, even if I am highly critical of the so-called “reform” since the 1960s.

  • If I have an agenda it would be to see you tighten up your logic.

    Thanks for your input.

  • I was going to close this thread down because things were beginning to get ugly. I’ll leave it open, but I’m not going to engage in tit-for-tat and I WILL delete any further comments that I find inappropriate. Think before you post.

    Michael,

    You have my email address. Email me a list of readings online if you like. If accusations, insults, or lectures accompany the list, it’s going in the trash. That’s all.

  • “None of it is contrary to Catholicism.”

    Sure. If Boff’s tongue-bath of Castro is kosher, then Catholics who kissed Franco’s and Pinochet’s wrinkled behinds also get a free pass.

    On the other hand, it’s bleakly reassuring to see that whoring oneself to Caesar is a Catholic universal across the political spectrum, all over the world.

  • Dale – John Paul II met with Castro too. “Tongue-bath”? You are one sick dude.

  • Joe – The stuff on liberation theology on the web is not really that good but I’ll see what I can come up with. Some liberation theology academic organizations are online but their websites are not very informative or are poorly translated. Can you read Spanish?

    An excerpt from the Boff brothers’ intro to LT is here:
    http://www.landreform.org/boff2.htm

    Might be an okay start. But books are best, so I’ll see if there any good excerpts online.

  • I twisted nothing. It is the impression you give, that you know more about LT than the current and former Pope. Now that you’ve clarified, I don’t think that.

    I think it’s entirely possible that at this point in my work I have read more liberation theology from more diverse authors than either of the two popes. Does that mean my judgments are necessarily better? Not necessarily. Do I think that some liberation theologians and even some “mainstream” theologians might have a better understanding of it than the popes and could certainly point out how the Vatican statements are flawed? Absolutely. I short, I don’t think either of these two popes know everything about everything. Neither one of them considered liberation theology to be a primary focus of their academic study, obviously.

    What does that even mean “on its own terms”?

    Obviously what I mean is that you should read liberation theologians themselves (not simply official statements about LT from Rome or from commentators who obviously oppose it) and that you should try to understand what they are saying, conscious of their unique context and why they might argue the things that they do, without reading them through your own biases right off the bat. Not that you can ever completely do the latter — you are who you are and you are always involved in your acts of interpretation.

    I’m glad you decided to calm down. You think better and more generously when you calm down.

  • The question is, are the Popes wrong in their assessment, or not? It is one thing to say they don’t know all there is to know – it is another thing to say that Catholics can’t rely on their judgments. The burden is on you to show that.

    “Obviously what I mean is that you should read liberation theologians themselves”

    Well, I did. I quoted GG himself, and you didn’t like how I read it.

    I don’t read Spanish, unfortunately. But I will read whatever you send.

    Alternatively, you could write a brief exposition yourself.

  • I didn’t say Catholics can’t rely on their judgments. They certainly can and certainly should.

    But you, and others here, don’t seem to understand their judgments. They did not “condemn” liberation theology. They didn’t really say anything at all about “liberation theology” as a whole. They warned against certain tendencies, and that is all.

    What I see on this blog are blanket statements about liberation theology — that Rome has “condemned it,” that liberation theology (spoken of as a whole) believes such-and-such (in “class warfare” for example… Neither of these are true.

    Your statement that “liberation theology” describes Christ as an armed peasant revolutionary is not true. And you say this claim is rooted in Vatican statements about liberation theology, but those statements do not make this charge.

    The burden, in fact, is on you to demonstrate that liberation theologians believe the things that you say they do. So far you have worked with one sentence from Camilo Torres, who was not a liberation theologian, and a couple paragraphs from Gutierrez which you obviously read very quickly and without much thought. This does not constitute “engagement” with liberation theology I’m afraid. You know that if you were being graded on your reading of these people, you would fail.

    I do appreciate that you seem willing to read things that I send you. I will assume you will try to read these on their own terms and not through your preconceptions.

    Have you blogged about your Marxist past? What was it that drew you to Marxism, if I might ask?

  • “The question is, are the Popes wrong in their assessment, or not?”

    I’m not sure the popes have had a full set of data to deal with LT theologians directly. I suspect that JPII, and to a lesser degree, Pope Benedict, had blinders on when dealing with certain people and groups within the church. We all know that squeaky wheels get extra attention in church circles. Wealthy Latin Americans would certainly have objected to having their consciences pricked.

    That said, I’ll repeat my assessment. We’re mostly intelligent adults. We can read LT tomes ourselves. To get the full picture, the more the better. I understand that some Catholics don’t want to bother, that they would rather rely on “expert” opinion. Let’s hope that Cardinal Ratzinger probed a bit more deeply.

    As for the fruitfulness of LT, the world’s poor probably don’t need the first world punditry of the blogosphere. It should be enough for all of us to realize that all human societies, including the Church, are touched by sin. It’s inescapable. If you want to play devil’s advocate as a means of achieving a process of elimination, believe me that just about anything human can be uncovered as steeped in sin and thus discounted.

    Liberation theology isn’t going anywhere. Deal with it.

  • I never said Rome condemned LT. Ratzinger recognized some good in it. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that he condemned certain aspects of it, though.

    “Your statement that “liberation theology” describes Christ as an armed peasant revolutionary is not true.”

    That really WASN’T my statement. My statement was:

    “The images of Liberation Theology, that seek to make Christ another rural peasant rising up in class warfare, are flawed…”

    By images, I meant, literally, the images I posted. So maybe they aren’t images that the big names of LT would endorse, but certainly there are people who identify with LT and those images.

    “And you say this claim is rooted in Vatican statements about liberation theology”

    No, I said my comments to Zach were, which, they are. That’s what I thought we were talking about as well.

    ” I will assume you will try to read these on their own terms and not through your preconceptions.”

    I’ll try.

    “Have you blogged about your Marxist past?”

    I just did. See my post about music, which I’m sure you’ll have a whole different set of problems with. Or not.

    “What was it that drew you to Marxism, if I might ask?”

    It’s promise of an objective, scientific view of history, a companion in the social sciences to Darwinism in the natural sciences, and my desire to see justice done, which I believed history showed was only possible through violent revolution.

  • “I understand that some Catholics don’t want to bother, that they would rather rely on “expert” opinion.”

    Well, as I’ve told Michael, I will bother. But at the same time, I will rely, yes, on the opinion of Pope Benedict, whom I respect not only as the head of the Church but as a brilliant theologian and writer in his own right.

    “As for the fruitfulness of LT, the world’s poor probably don’t need the first world punditry of the blogosphere.”

    Who said they “needed it”, or that it was written for them? I’m not under the assumption that Latin American peasants and workers are reading my entries at TAC.

    What they need, and what everyone needs, is the Church – her sacred liturgy, her sacraments, her social teaching. These things are universally applicable, even if they differ in details and implementation at the local level.

    “Liberation theology isn’t going anywhere. Deal with it.”

    You’re funny, Todd. I’m certainly not under the assumption that it is “going anywhere.” But that is irrelevant – when and where it contains errors, it must be corrected, or if necessary, condemned. It’s existence doesn’t exempt it from criticism.

    Can you deal with that? I’m sure you can. So, how about you stop smugly telling people to “deal with” things?

  • I never said Rome condemned LT. Ratzinger recognized some good in it.

    When I said that I was referring to the statements of you co-bloggers.

    It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that he condemned certain aspects of it, though.

    Actually, yes, it would be inaccurate because in saying that he “condemned certain aspects of [liberation theology]” you are implying that Ratzinger condemned some quality that all liberation theologians hold. What he did was condemn certain positions that he claims some liberation theologians hold. (And again, he offers no citations so we have no idea who he has/d in mind.)

    So maybe they aren’t images that the big names of LT would endorse, but certainly there are people who identify with LT and those images.

    So what? There are pro-lifers who identify with abortion clinic bombings.

    By the way, as for the images you posted — I’m fairly certain the second “Che-Christ” image is of north american Evangelical origin, not Latin American liberation theology.

    “And you say this claim is rooted in Vatican statements about liberation theology”

    No, I said my comments to Zach were, which, they are. That’s what I thought we were talking about as well.

    You said at one point that all of your claims about liberation theology are based on the statements of the Vatican.

    It’s promise of an objective, scientific view of history, a companion in the social sciences to Darwinism in the natural sciences, and my desire to see justice done, which I believed history showed was only possible through violent revolution.

    That’s really interesting. What draws liberation theologians to it is its analysis of capitalism. In other words, none of the things that drew you to Marxism, save for the desire for justice minus the violence. I sincerely think you should keep that in mind when using your own experience of Marxism to analyze liberation theology.

  • “So what? There are pro-lifers who identify with abortion clinic bombings.”

    So what? The whole point of this was that you criticized Don for using the word “citadel”, saying it was “disgusting”, when you’ve been apologizing for a school of thought that has, at least by some people in some quarters (like the ELN!) embraced military imagery.

    I really don’t care about martial depictions of Jesus.

    But you’ve argued for pacifism in the past, and you seemed to be doing it again when you started going off on the monastery thread. If you don’t hold a double standard, fine – but it seems like you do.

    “You said at one point that all of your claims about liberation theology are based on the statements of the Vatican.”

    But the thing you quoted about the images, was referring simply to the images. That’s all.

    “What draws liberation theologians to it is its analysis of capitalism.”

    Well naturally. I was an atheist when I found Marxism. As I understand it, LT is intimately connected with dependency theory. And that IS something I studied quite a bit – a graduate seminar, research papers, and five books on Latin American political economy, I hope, would meet your minimum criteria for being able to speak on the subject. As a Marxist I wrote a paper comparing the Cuba-Soviet relationship with the Bolivia-U.S. relationship.

    I’ll admit I never read much of the theological writings on this topic, but insofar as LT is involved with dependency theory, I’d say I know a fair amount.

  • So what? The whole point of this was that you criticized Don for using the word “citadel”, saying it was “disgusting”, when you’ve been apologizing for a school of thought that has, at least by some people in some quarters (like the ELN!) embraced military imagery.

    But I have not apologized for any liberationist usage of military imagery. I oppose it. So no, I holdno double standard.

    As I understand it, LT is intimately connected with dependency theory.

    Certainly at one time some Latin American liberation theologians made use of dependency theory, but not all. I can pass along an article to you about LT’s connection with dependency theory and how it is being rethought.

  • Dale – John Paul II met with Castro too. “Tongue-bath”? You are one sick dude.

    As the commercial said, mikey doesn’t like it. He doesn’t like any anything.

    Nice attempted dodge, given that the Pope didn’t write a slobbering fangirl tribute worthy of “Tiger Beat.”

    “Sick dude”–ah, yes. Interesting that a putative grown-up who signs his e-mails with “kisses” objects to a metaphor like “tongue-bath,” but hey–no one enjoys the frisson of perpetual offendedness quite like our mike. If you’re serious–and you so rarely are–I’d be happy to discuss this further, after you get back from impersonating an adult in the real world.

  • The notion that Popes haven’t condemned liberation theology is quite peculiar . . . in Benedict’s recent message, he said that the “deceptive principles of Liberation Theology” lead to “rebellion, division, dissent, offence, and anarchy,” causing “great suffering and a serious loss of vitality.” (For Michael’s benefit: Benedict clearly thinks of rebellion and anarchy as undesirable, not desirable.) I’m not sure what more Benedict could have possibly said to indicate that liberation theology is ultimately a destructive force within the Church.

    The fact that previous papal statements have patted liberation theology on the head for purporting to care about the poor doesn’t mean that liberation theology is sensible, correct, or productive in furthering its supposed ends.

  • For S.B.’s benefit: Clearly Benedict is not opposed to all forms o “rebellion.” And neither are you. And I’m not in favor of “anarchy” in the sense in which he uses the term. You need to read and think more carefully. Your view of liberation theology is not Benedict’s view.

  • Michael

    SB does what he normally does: equivocates.

  • Want to try making an argument, either one of you? You need more than a bald assertion that I’m misrepresenting Benedict when all I did was cut and paste his words.

    (Benedict isn’t opposed to all forms of rebellion, sure, but he’s opposed to the political rebellion that takes form in liberation theology, which is what’s relevant here.)

  • I must confess that I’m not an expert on LT, nor have I read any of its seminal texts. My only contact with it has been through the Christologies of Frs. John Sobrino and Roger Haight.

    Certainly taking care of the poor is a noble and necessary apostolate of the Church. However, the main problem with LT that I noticed was that it missed the point. Christ primarily came to save the world from sin and death, not poverty. Though he was not at all opposed to caring for the poor and downtrodden, this was not his chief purpose for coming. He even went so far as to say “the poor you will always have with you.”

    LT seems to approach salvation in a ‘this-worldly’ sense rather than look forward to the eternal salvation. It also seems to warp the picture of Jesus into that of a political messiah. I don’t think this is legitimate. He certainly had the power to foment a revolution against the oppressive Romans and the other corrupt leaders of his day, after all, his followers wanted to make him king, but he refused and even fled them.

    Also troubling, at least in Haight’s case, is what LT is willing to compromise in order to serve the poor. In “Jesus Symbol of God,” Haight proposes relegating Christianity to simply another, albeit glorified, symbolic path to salvation. At the end of the day the real question is: when we boil LT down to that which is orthodox and constructive, is there anything left that is even a development of what the Church has already laid down as her doctrine?

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