Liberation Theology and Conservatives

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So tonight I’ve been watching some interviews with liberation theologians like Sobrino and Jeremiah Wright. I watched an interview with Wright as he discussed the tradition of black liberation theology stemming from James Cone’s work. I really enjoyed his interview, and I found him to be an eloquent defender of the prophetic tradition. Unfortunately, I just clicked on a video of Sean Hannity profiling liberation theology, and now I am royally pissed. I’ve never liked Hannity, and I try and resist watching Fox News because it’s an endless source of frustration. Here’s what annoyed the hell out of me. According to Hannity, liberation theology is based entirely on 1 verse of the Bible in Isaiah 61:1. I realized this was Jesus’s reading of the prophet of Isaiah in Luke 4:18-19. First off, the verse Jesus reads covers 2 verses, both Isaiah 61:1-2, so Hannity simply lied about that. Secondly, for Hannity to act as if Jesus’ (or God’s) advocacy for the poor and oppressed is found in only one verse of the Bible is beyond absurd. I believe there are over 3000 verses in the Bible that address the issue of poverty, here’s a small compilation of them: http://www.zompist.com/meetthepoor.html. I would offer more evidence to rebut this claim, but I suspect anyone who reads this blog would recognize the patent ridiculousness of Hannity’s statement.

I mean I’m not really surprised Hannity lied considering he’s not a good person. But, as if it wasn’t enough to pretend that liberation theology is un-orthodox and un-Biblical, he topped it off by saying that liberation theology encourages violence and derives its theoretical support from Marx. Let me first back track to address the claim of liberation theology’s radical nature. Generally, liberation theologians have been very orthodox in their theology. Although, they do offer a different paradigm that is already found in the text, I’ve never heard of a liberation theologian not supporting the creeds. In fact, I find their theology to be very Biblically driven. Altizer went so far to claim that liberation theology is theologically conservative, which I believe is partially true insofar as they do not challenge the content of theology but rather its methodology and its relationship to politics. Then again, almost all theologies in comparison to Altizer’s kenotic death-of-God theology look very conservative. With regards to violence, while I don’t know enough about the history of liberation theology to answer the question of the support violence, I highly doubt that these theologians would respond to injustice by reaching for the sword. Of course, I don’t think Hannity would even begin to acknowledge the fact that the oppressed are constantly violated and subjected to systemic and physical violence all the time. Secondly, liberation theology’s relationship to Marx is a tad more nuanced than Hannity presented it. In Guiterrez’s work A Theology of Liberation he argues that an appropriation of Marxist theory can be helpful to understanding the political and economic issues that are keeping those oppressed subjugated. However (and this is more obvious in the newer liberation theologians), liberation theology has never depended on Marx for their theological and political positions. Rather, Marxist analysis can aid in diagnosing the violence of capital, but they would hesitate in ever hinging their theology on the correctness of Marx’s interpretations of global capitalism.

I think the quote I posted a couple of weeks ago applies quite well to Hannity’s unjust presentation of liberation theology.

‘You’re not a Christian. You’re just an asshole. We get that a lot.”

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6 Responses to “Liberation Theology and Conservatives”

  1. Dave Mesing Says:

    I don’t want to encourage you to keep watching, but I’ve seen a clip in which Hannity, who has apparently been to some kind of divinity school, says that he didn’t even hear of liberation theology in divinity school. This is almost unbelievable, but I’m sure there are “seminaries” where this might be the case.

    As for liberation theology’s connection to violence, I can’t say with the knowledge of specific histories, but first I would want to ask: whose violence? If it’s oppressed people responding violently to the violence of the oppressors, then I’m not sure I have a problem with that. Secondly, I think the fact that Monsignor Romero was killed during the Eucharist meal is alone enough to provide a ground to stand on against the hateful comments of that asshole.

    I used to think that most people on the Fox News network were confused or else too ideologically committed to change their minds. I’m not so sure that I think differently about the latter point (obviously), but with the rise of people like Glenn Beck, now I think that the network maliciously misinforms. Stephen Colbert commented that Beck has ‘raised the stupid bar to nearly inapproachable,’ and it’s true; if you watch caricatures, the one that is in jest is indistinguishable to a third party viewer without the laughing track.

  2. A.J. Smith Says:

    I’m surprised Hannity has even heard of Liberation Theology. Although judging by your evaluation of his knowledge, he really hasn’t.

  3. Jeremy Says:

    I feel as if Liberation Theology is not common especially if you’re stuck within the matrix of conservative (evangelical) vs. liberal theologies. A theology that doesn’t fit into either category is generally ignored. It’s too left for the evangelicals and too orthodox for the the liberals. I agree with you Dave that violence is different depending on where it comes from. Christians that pretend that violence is equivalent regardless of the source, usually are not engaged in any sort of struggle. I wrote about this in a post where I critically reviewed Bell’s book Liberation Theology and the End of History; http://tinyurl.com/yejtevu. I have so many things to say about Fox News, but as discouraging as it is, my brother made the point that the fact that the president could be openly criticized (albeit by fucking morons) in such a public arena does speak volumes of America’s commitment to freedom of speech. I’m not trying to pretend the media doesn’t greatly filter and bias the presentation of the news because it clearly does. But, considering that Glenn Beck isn’t killed for such inflammatory rhetoric is good, however I wish someone with brains would actually criticize Obama.

    Hannity’s understanding of Liberation Theology is about as complex as Dawkins’ understanding of religion.

  4. Blake Huggins Says:

    “[T]hey do not challenge the content of theology but rather its methodology and its relationship to politics.

    I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately. I wonder if liberation theology might need to look different in this respect if it is to be useful today, after the so-called triumph of global capitalism. I know this has nothing to do with overall thrust of your original post, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that.

    Re: violence. I know that there are a few liberation theologians who have either advocated for revolutionary violence and/or refused to pass judgment on such violence theologically. José Miguez Bonino comes to mind. I certainly don’t think that is the mainstream position though.

  5. Jeremy Says:

    I would refer you to read my post I linked to in my first comment. The book by Petrella maps out important goals for liberation theology. It’s written in 2006 so it offers commentary on why liberation theology did not lead to the revolution it promised. It also is helpful because it offers a useful commentary on the relationship between theology and social sciences. I’ll respond to more in my next post.

  6. Danny Kam Says:

    Hannity is an idiot. I have written quite a few posts on fox news, but I think they keep their ratings because it’s like a freaking car crash. You don’t want to look, but you can’t help it. And it gathers a crowd. Fox intentionally stirs the pot to get ratings. Why else would they have recruited a pot-stirrer like Glenn Beck?

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