Tag Archives: liberation hermeneutics

Liberation Theology's Demise Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

Liberation Theology Bible Study

Liberation Theology Bible Study (Photo credit: Student Christian Movement)

Some of the theology texts I have read over the years, and articles and even (faux) news reports suggest that liberation theologians failed in their mission, given the fact that it’s not as popular and “trendy” as it once was in the ’70’s and 80’s. And by all (neoliberal) capitalist definitions of success, liberation theology is a failure. Google “liberation theology” and some of the word associations such as “political violence,” “retreat” and “demise” follow along with it. Once I was at a conference, and confessed at a dinner table at Cracker Barrell that I was a liberation theologian, and one person across the table went on a rant about how violent liberation theology was and how missionaries in Latin America were persecuted. I am pretty sure Liberation Theology is not the only ideology around that has had violent persons believe in it. But if you do not share the idea of what it means to be successful as corporate America, then you get quite a different picture.

Nowadays, even the most conservative of Christian websites cannot help but talk about the suffering of the oppressed (I won’t link to garbage, but the TGC’s recent video about how “dangerous” social justice Christianity is was just hilariously misguided). The fact that the idea of social justice is being talked about (whether it is being done or not, is a different matter), and the fact that liberation theologians’ concerns are being debated hardly means that fundamentalism or process theism has won the day. Theology texts want to make sure that the status quo is self-assured and victorious, by both co-opting the rhetoric of liberation theology as well as announcing its demise, when, in reality, you can’t have it both ways. If something has “retreated” or “defeated,” then why use that community’s words? No, what this means is that LT’s demise has been greatly exaggerated.

In other news, Pope Francis I is going to meet with Gustavo Gutierez, the founder of liberation theology.

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Another Texas Church Teaching the Racist Curse Of Ham? NO WAY!!!


ANSWER: No, the answer is and was, and always will be NO!

White Christians, liberal and conservative, talk and talk and talk about evolutionary science versus the six day creation, yada yada yada. Well you know what? People were not put in chains because somebody did or did not believe in Young Earth Creationism. People do not have to endure discrimination, constant vilification because they read Genesis 1-3 “literally” or allegorically. People do not have drones killing their babies because listen to Richard Dawkins or Ken Ham (okay, maybe in the case of both), but you get my drift.

So earlier this year, one Texas school district is found teaching racism using the book of Genesis. And now we have Appleby Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas as a church that publicly admits to teaching the racist Curse of Ham theory. I don’t care if you tell me that we have to believe this to affirm Noah’s flood or whatever (actually, no, we don’t); this doctrine was made for the purpose of justifying racism and human enslavement. Here are a few posts to get you started on reading where the Curse of Ham came from, and why its just bunk!:


Martin Luther King Jr. on the Curse of Ham & Racism

Really, I should have a page added to this blog, just to address this topic. It just makes me sick.

Comment below or ReTweet/Tumblr if you’d like to see this happen!

So You Wanna Read The Bible With Suspicion?

Meaning, Suspicion, Tradition, and Hope

Retrato del filósofo francés Michel Foucault


Usually, I travel around blogs on biblical studies from different perspectives, and when I do, I like to read (and hear, in my head) different voices. Yes, that’s right, when I read, I hear voices in my head, okay? I have come across quite frequently Bible scholars and Christian thinkers who just randomly go off on tangents about how wrong reading the Bible with a hermeneutic of suspicion is.

For many persons, the Scriptures themselves are the problem, and that’s fine, they can have their own opinions. For me, IMNSHO (in my not so humble opinion), the problems is our interpretations, our readings of its meaning that cause the most problems (for example, the Parable of the Talents is just one of those passages that is just, ugh never mind). For some strange reason or another, Christians who use this “hermeneutic of suspicion” are condemned. I think it has to do with people not liking their embedded theologies challenged, what they have been taught, the Sunday School answers. More specifically, those who retain this hermeneutic of suspicion, as cast as people without hope, people who are generally distrustful of others (and rightly so in my individual case), and too egg-headed for their own good. So the alternatives that are proposed are things like “a hermeneutic of trust” or love or whatever all while affirming critical engagement with the text over and against what they see as ideologically driven cynicism.

In other words, those with a hermeneutic of suspicion have nothing constructive to offer (this is my reading of these general criticisms). I take issue with this. First, and foremost, I continue to apply this suspicion, not out of my distrust for people or tradition (some traditions are good), but because of the Christian doctrine of human fallenness. One of the Niebuhr brothers rightly said the one doctrine Christians can prove is humanity’s sinfulness. Just take a look at history. Secondly, and most importantly, persons who are “driven” by suspicion/distrust of the text are inspired by hope. In Jonathan Tran’s Foucault And Theology, he quotes Michel Foucault on hope and suspicion:

“Despair and hopelessness are one thing, suspicion is another. And if you are suspicious, it is because, of course, you have a certain hope.”

I think this quote speaks volumes for persons of religious backgrounds and those who claim no religious affiliation, that critical readings of religious texts are drawn out of hopes. For some, a hope for a better world in the here and now, for others, the hope for conserving that which was from the past, and yet still others, a hope for the future. As Foucault would say, “power as relationship” is everywhere, and it is found in resistance. My hope is in the Risen Christ, who liberates all of humanity from the forces sin, death, and satan; therefore, as part of that hope, I know that there is a world beyond what John Calvin,Jacob Arminius, Adam Smith (the economist), and Karl Marx tell me. My particular hermeneutic of suspicion arises from not only my education, but first from being raised in the traditions of black churches: “The hermeneutics of suspicion and hope rises from the smoldering embers of the church of resistance. The black church uses a hermeneutics of suspicion because of the way Scripture has been used against African Americans in order to support racist policies.”

For more, read Stephen Breck Reid’s Endangered Reading: The African American Scholar Between Text and People (linked here, was working as of 8/6/2012)

What have you learned or heard about people who have a hermeneutic suspicion? Positive? Negative?

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