I am excited about next week’s trip to Managua, Nicaragua. Along with 8 other United Methodists, I will be visiting missionaries Nan McCurdy and Miguel Mairena. Providentially, I first met Nan and Miguel a few years ago when I was immersing myself in liberation theologians like Justo Gonzales and Gustavo Gutierrez.
I am indebted to liberation theology for drawing my attention to poor countries that are kept subservient by military force, prosperous nations that prosper at the expense of the impoverished, and large corporations who exploit cheap labor
Life in an affluent, suburban culture obscures these facts, which is tragic considering much of redemptive history is written from the perspective of the powerless. God, these theologians remind us, is actively involved with the poor in their struggles, as evidenced by the incarnation. Liberation theology also sheds light on the signs of a true church, among which are solidarity with the poor, sensitivity to oppression, and the search for justice and peace. I believe wherever there is a passion for social justice there is an in-breaking of the kingdom, which is wider and deeper than the visible church.
However, has liberation theology emphasized political freedom, while failing to give primacy to freedom from sin? I believe freedom in Christ should necessarily have effects on the social level, but the New Testament stresses the radical character of the freedom offered to all, whether they be politically free or enslaved. Certainly the church must confront structural evil, but shouldn’t such evil be viewed as the consequences of sin, rather than its cause?