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Liberation Theology as an Analytical Reflection on Praxis, and Where Theology and Humankind Embrace
One among the most important Christian theological developments within the past 100 years is liberation theology. The doctrine's advocates regard it as a novel means to 'do theology', rather than a subfield of theology. The method aims to view the universe with regard to being involved with disadvantaged and subjugated individuals. It also endeavors to discover, within the Bible, analytical instruments as well as the energizing force to bring about drastic change to that universe (Anderson 1979, 4). The direct sources may be traced back to the 60s' developments in Latin America's Roman Catholicism, together with blatant social and economic disparities and widespread local feelings of bias.
This dissertation will look at the above objectives by reviewing the following points: The paper's foremost section will study theology's contextual character and liberation theology's introduction in response to actual history, as well as the challenges it presents for the Church's faith. The subsequent section will deal with the accepted practice of liberation theological reflection. Finally, the paper will connect humanity with theology by analyzing diverse social elements of our lives. However, considering this dissertation's word count constraints, liberation theory's history and development cannot be adequately covered by the paper.
Theology as Critical Reflection
Liberation theology mulls over practice, bearing the element of faith in mind. For comprehending this statement's scope, evaluating the question raised at the start of this discussion, for understanding the close interrelationship between spirituality and theological method from this standpoint, is valuable. Lastly, we will be able to detail current challenges.
The abovementioned concepts have intensely permeated the concept of liberation theology, and its interpretative structure is developed accordingly. Here, it is possible to summarize as well as expand. Commencing with the condition of subjugation and persecution, the foremost driving principle was that one cannot become a true Christian unless one strives, with those who are persecuted, for freedom and constructing a fully human and fair society. Therefore, theology itself cannot commence with a conventional philosophy-grounded model of the present circumstances', with successive 'pastoral' applications. The distress linked to the situation generated the additional understanding that a theoretical assessment can never, in fact, be separate from the debasing scenario (Gutierrez 1988). An 'idealist' philosophical approach had to make way for a systematic model of observing, collating, theorizing and hypothesis testing, all of which had to be conducted in liberative, humanizing change's interests. This assumed the shape of the social scientific model's application, particularly that of Marx's sociological examination of class-based fights for liberation. However, at this juncture, it would be right to highlight the fact that the model's fundamental philosophical ground is that process (or becoming) forms the basic mode of a created being; further, thought represents a type of becoming/being, which aids the general development of humanity, history, and civilization.
But liberation theology, indeed, has another philosophical approach to interpretation which is, in broad terms, an 'existentialist' philosophical stance. This has served North-American and European theology well. The approach implies a more extensive phenomenology-grounded assessment of people in their world, rather than a narrow, individualistic standpoint as adopted by a few existentialist proponents. Owing to its phenomenological basis and reflection on the effects of observed behaviors, the model can offer philosophical support to the field of sociology. Its chief value lies in emphasizing overall components of reality, particularly of man. The older static, 'essentialist' ideology was incapable of considering the above. Particularly, of course, man's historical aspect has been highlighted by the existential approach, as has the argument that individuals aren't mere class members without remainder; rather, they are irreducibly distinctive. A third standpoint of reflection -- the metaphysical -- is not excepted either, if one understands it as clarifying critical existential implications, rather than describing further, real being (Gutierrez 1990). While every liberation theologian will not agree to a central, metaphysical ground, discourse on metaphysics' role has to wait to consider the end, evaluative aspect. This subsequently constitutes the instrument to interpret Christian sources, and has to successively strengthen and guide the interpretative instrument.
A critical consideration, as mentioned above, on construing the "signs of the times" repeats to the Church the fact that the mystery surrounding Incarnation deals with the entry of individuals of God's eternal Word into history and time, in Christ of Nazareth. Consistent with the scriptural outlook on the association between man and God, the Council presents the Almighty as a historic power who is with his people both in bad times and good, rather than as some metaphysical entity.
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Experiencing the Almighty is a part of experiencing history (not nature) as a fundamental reality. History, in this context, represents an account of human existence, commitment, situation, and decision-making rather than a mere recounting of occurrences and events (Boff 1979, 36). The reality of divinity and humanity ought not to be regarded in terms of the metaphysical and the static (as is implied by the word "nature"). It should be considered in dynamic terms as springing from history (the divine is free self-communication with the other, while human beings are very open to Absolute Mystery or Something More).
Reflection on Praxis
Right from the outset, liberation theology's basis has been praxis -- an element that is widely believed to be this theological school's root. Many deem it as the fundamental, defining facet of liberation theology. This represented a sharp deviation from Western conventional theological thinking, and has remained a debatable approach for a number of reasons. One criticism revolves around whether or not this theology is, in truth, contextualized, as it apparently reflects European philosophical principles rather than Latin American theological foundations or tradition (Anderson 1979).
The above criticism is a commonly raised one, and initially appears persuasive. However, one can see that it is actually inaccurate, as it is, of course, more than possible to have a concept emerge in one area but take hold elsewhere. Contending that no genuine Australian or American culture exists merely because of their adoption of the English language (which they brought with them from a different continent) is a ridiculous argument. Cultural principles, values, theologies and other forms of cultural expression are transportable as well as flexible, and get altered, to some extent, in their new settings. Suggesting otherwise means making a false claim that distinct, 'pure' ideologies exist which have no interaction, whatsoever, among themselves (Boff 1979; Anderson 1979). Although ideologies interact, and hence, have an influence on each other, this doesn't render them inauthentic. Therefore, if the liberation approach to theology is founded partially on a philosophical praxis with European origins, this doesn't invalidate the idea's novel meaning in the Latin American context.
A great irony in this regard is that, European scholars and theologians are attempting at dictating the theological approach best suited to Latin America, whilst simultaneously complaining that Latin American liberation theology is guided by their own native (i.e. European) philosophy. Hence, the criticizers are themselves committing the same fault they blame liberation theologians for. To achieve meaningful contextualized theology, the significance of intellectually and geographically separate theologies must be decisively decided by theologians. As such, individuals not belonging to Latin America (in particular) and the liberation theological school must not proclaim the appropriateness of praxis being the basis and defining aspect of the liberation theological approach. This connotes multiplicity in global theologies; however, one needs to perceive this as an indication of religious strength, and not a compromise or a weakness. In Rowland's crisp words, North American must learn to become part of an interpretative community (1999, p.10).
How can one speak about a Lord who is revealed to humanity as love within a reality that is marked by oppression and poverty? From the liberation theology standpoint, the foremost step is contemplation about Him and practicing His will; only in the next moment can one think about Him. In other words, the Almighty's veneration and doing His will are essential prerequisites for reflecting on the Almighty. In fact, one can attempt a respectful and genuine discussion of the Almighty only as an outcome of dedication and supplication. By means of dedication that is concretely directed at the disadvantaged, one can find God (cf. Matt. 25.31 -- 46). However, concurrently, this discovery strengthens one's accord with the disadvantaged and renders the relationship more genuine (Watson 2008). Human history reflects that dedication and contemplation form key elements of Christianity. Consequently, one can't avoid them when endeavoring to study and understand faith. Through harmony with poor people and contemplation, the mystery comes to light. This -- the first action -- is termed practice of a Christian life. It is only after this that life begins inspiring reasoning -- the next act.
As an analytical reflection based on the Word embraced via faith on Christians' presence in a turbulent world,….....