Liberation Theology

March 15, 2004

Hi Latter Rain List,

Along the lines of liberality is this verse:

Isa 32:8 But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.

A few responses on liberal/conservative. I still stand liberal but orthodox among many conservatives. That's cool, I've gotten used to that. We agree on much and love wins out in the end anyway.

I like what people say in the responses. Conservatives give perceptions of liberals but still confuses being liberal with licentious. I believe that the church gave away the righteous use of the world liberal when they became intolerant of others outside of their class and rejected the social gospel. I like what Bill says and that conservative or liberal, it falls short of the spiritual. We should all be walking in the spirit. I still believe that these things depend upon the issue and context and to generalize people in this way apart from that is something that should be personally examined closely because it looks stupid from here. To "be" liberal is to put up with insults and generalizations not based upon individual merit. So, why is that?

Mary Lloyd is from the UK and I believe has a much more proper definition of liberal below than anyone here in the U. S. All this reminds me of the prophets of old. They are stoned by the people of their time and then revered by the descendants. All the freedoms that we enjoy in America have been given to us by liberals. It takes everyone to conserve them but innovation and Christian freedom comes from a liberal, open mind. Can you convince me that this is the wrong way to believe?

I have to say it again, people are confusing liberal with licentious. St. Paul is clear that we are not to use our Christian freedom as a license to sin. The attitude against liberals is a lack of proper perspective and not out of love because it prejudges all for the sins of a few.

Here is my thesis, let's get some feedback, feel free to agree or disagree.

  • I believe that being liberal is a Christian ideal.
  • Liberals are progressive, conservatives are regressive.
  • Being liberal suggests open mindedness, tolerance, generosity and freedom.
  • Because justice, fairness and equal opportunity threatens the market-place of the world, there will be right wing opposition to liberals.
  • Like characters in the Bible, conservative Christians became legalistic and ignored the weightier things like justice and mercy.
  • Conservatives look squeaky clean but at the ballot box, they vote their pocketbook.
  • A liberal education leads to knowledge and a conservative one to ignorance.
  • Being liberal to the poor is a means to sanctity.

These are of course more generalizations, don't take it personal. I am a social democrat, that is not a party in the U. S. but from being here, it's easier to be more objective from the left on political issues. Now how can you convince me that I should be conservative in anything I do? Where are my perceptions wrong?

Since we are all friends, I hope, I wanted to share my page on Liberation Theology that I just did a do-over. Liberation Theology has been in the news recently. These are the first several paragraphs, the entire text is at

Please feel free to respond to the liberal/conservative thing or liberation theology to me at See the responses this time at


Liberation theology is the prophetic response to oppression.

When most people hear of "liberation theology," they think of revolution. Actually the revolutionary situation had already existed and a theology followed once the liberation concept in a spiritual sense was understood. The oppression existed and then came the prophetic experiences. As the prophets denounced the injustices, they began a process of understanding the way that the Kingdom of God was being fulfilled through the poor and oppressed. A theology of an oppressed culture emerged as theologians saw the relationships with the struggle for liberation throughout God's people in the Bible. The Flood, the crossing of the Red Sea , the cross and the Jerusalem Council are all parts of the liberation process toward the kingdom of peace, love and justice.

The thought of Jesus at His Second Coming is of course revolutionary. If we are to have the peace of Jesus that is promised, it is in denouncing injustice and whatever is hindering the peace. Liberation is an ongoing process and molds itself into the circumstances that it found. The first and foremost understanding of thought behind adherents to liberation theology is that they have a preferential option for the poor.

Spiritual liberation came from Jesus at the cross; the struggle continues as the people of God take up the cross and flesh out the kingdom here on earth. There is a relationship between theology and practice, the theology here is the insistence that the practice in question is the liberating force of the exploited classes bringing in the Kingdom of God. In these prophets, the gospel message again becomes a transforming force, the community becomes an agent of liberation and theology becomes a spiritual experience through action (praxis).

The theology of liberation shifts the emphasis toward liberating praxis in a strongly political sense in an objective context of the conflict situation of the world around them. Liberation Theologians do not create the conflict, it is recognized and denounced in that political context. The political aspect of eschatology is also an important recurring theme in the theology of liberation. Justice and judgment both begin at the house of God. The process of liberation as it is going on now implies the need of the Church to make a choice between the mark of the beast or the seal of God. Speaking the truth is no longer an acceptable substitute for doing the truth.

There is a groaning in the universe of the need to be free. Latin American Liberation Theology emerged surrounded by profound economic, cultural, and religious upheavals. It began in the sixties among ordinary Christians who felt called by their faith to work for and with the poor. This was a concrete way of living out faith in the God of Moses and Jesus which understands the gift of salvation as intimately bound up with the struggles of the oppressed for liberation in history. Any theology which does not directly relate to and contribute to the liberation of the oppressed - despite its other possible virtues - is lacking in useful Christian theology. Christianity's message of salvation is one of liberation from sin and the consequences of sin that enslave humanity.

Once you start working for the rights of the poor in an impoverished nation, you are suddenly an economic threat to the forces that will oppress and exploit them. Think of liberation theology however in the Christian context that it is anti-authoritarian, anti-imperialist, has a preferential option for the poor and stands against laissez-faire economic domination and oppression. This will provoke attacks from the right.

Hi Jay -

It's been a while since I've communicated with you, but I still read with interest the spiritual food being served in your ministry. Thanks for the comments concerning "liberals and conservatives", I think that it is an idea to reflect upon, especially in these times since we have heightened political clashes with God's Word. I believe that the very nature of the Church has been ultra conservative due to man's need to mold and shape religion and believers. I also believe that it is our obligation to understand that Jesus Christ is the greatest revolutionary of all time. The religious right seems to be doing a lot of talking about God, but not a lot of talking TO God. Yes, they rant and rave about gay marriage, homosexuals in the church, the discontinuance of the public display of the ten commandments; but do they really feel the power of the Holy Spirit at work here?

I've been watching with increasing interest over the past four years and I want you to know that God is doing a great work in your life. Believe me, it is the truth that sets us free, and who the Son sets free is free indeed! You have an awesome UNDERLYING concept that you explore regardless of what the issue may be that you discuss. That is the concept of love. Consequently, when we can understand that God is a Spirit and that He must be worshipped in the Spirit and read in the Spirit, liberal politics will no longer exist. In essence, Jay, I believe that the very notion of "conservative" and "liberal" is just a political beast which falls way short of "spiritual". Until we have a government that is "spiritual" we will forever see the degradation that is happening in our society. Ask the prophet Samuel...

Many blessings!

Bill Caraway

Liberal = being tolerant of independent groups; who find moral boundaries that were set for the good of all, to have their way irregardless of the ripple effect to all. Those who live for the moment and jeopardize the heritage.

Conservative = following the unction to instill, protect and maintain virtuous lifestyle boundaries for the good of all. Those who treasure the heritage of our children.


Hi Jay and all,

As you know, the meaning of liberal and conservative in the political sense here in the UK is something different from in America, such that when I might be quite happy to describe myself as a "liberal" on your soil, I would not want to do that here. I am much more left wing.

In Wales particularly our history of poverty and oppression has necessitated a much more radical view to emerge and convert itself into action for the sake of survival, and this I think has happened spiritually too. Wales has had its times of revival, and I hope we are similarly poised for God to pour Himself among us again.

How many dry little sticks does He need to start a fire....maybe not too many, but a lot of wind, eh?

Anyway, in order to grasp what seems to be required in a response to your question and contribute something that makes the same sense in your land and mine, I found myself looking for a phrase among the definitions that can apply politically, economically, socially and spiritually. The best I can come up with is "attitude to change".

Conservative thinking is in my view resistant to change, unless it is change designed to return to former more comfortable conditions. It is interested in conserving mindsets, attitudes and activities which promote "business as usual". It is as visible politically and economically as it is spiritually. It comes in a lullaby of doctrines and activities that get us yawning so much we want to close our eyes - to reality; to need; to social injustice; to responsibilities at home and abroad - to sin generally.

Liberal thinking over here is not resistant to change but sees that it is essential in order to achieve anything politically or socially. Liberals may hold some seats but do not gain enough power locally to enable a Liberal government to get into power. Shame perhaps, we don't know what they could do. Here we have swung from one extreme to another and back again as Labour governments attempt to put right what the Conservatives have put wrong, and vice versa.

I would be afraid that liberal might well mean licentious over here as a reaction against the pseudo-spirituality we have seen in our leaders of the left and right in recent times.

Aside from the political picture, I have come to see that conservativism is fairly rife in the church, and I view it as an evil. I believe that it is not possible to have a genuine Christian experience without change. To be resistant to change itself is to have an attitude resistant to God. How can He change us from glory to glory if we won't be changed? How can we become more like Jesus if we are too proud to see where we fall short?

A conservative attitude in the church is one that keeps it powerless and worldly. It trusts in traditions, "tried and tested" methods, formulae; it tends towards prosperity, growth, and a building up of worldly things. It trusts in the world more than it trusts in God. It tries to have the best of both worlds: the label of Christianity without any of the power or conviction; the benefits of Christianity without any of the suffering; the name of Jesus without the cross; all the life with none of the death.

The Gospel is therefore rendered powerless in the conservative R. wing church, maintaining rules and methods that permit us to stay as we are and feel secure. Jesus says we are not secure though unless we transfer our trust to Him, building our house on the Rock. We are to be born again of the Spirit. To build on the Rock who is Jesus Christ means to allow personal change to a point of death in order that His life may be manifest in us.

A life surrendered in this way naturally and supernaturally evolves in compassionate pursuits to benefit man. It is not possible to have Jesus in us and not show philanthropic tendencies which bring about social, political, economic and further spiritual change. The kingdom of God, the making of disciples, grows only by measures commensurate with the level of compassion which we feel, experience and demonstrate towards our fellow man.

Conservative Christianity is something that has to be "sold" or "advertized" by worldly means. In an atmosphere of lukewarm faith and an absence of Holy Spirit power, the world buys in and settles back comfortably in the pew to hear a message that continuously lulls, comforts, appeases, excuses.

But our glorious Gospel does not offer security in anything passing or temporal, but eternal. It does not offer freedom from pain, freedom from accountability, false security, false hope. Our hope and our inheritance is one reserved in Heaven and that fadeth not away.

God is the one Who does not change, and it is His prerogative since He is perfect. We however, have to undergo change to be made that way. We cannot be Holy without change, without yielding ourselves to the Potter's hand.

Conservative thinking wants to conserve everything that it has which it considers to be of value. To be active spiritually it would need to be willing to give up everything that it has, everything, for God.

I do not see many conservative thinkers who are willing to give up what they own and become poor. Certainly not here anyway.

Love, Mary


I see the political parties in our country as lining up on different sides of the fence, both economically and philosophically. As far as the economic end of it, I think a lot of the American brand of conservatism is rooted in the concept of "rugged individualism" . This concept, some argue, is what makes American culture so robust economically. The emphasis is on giving the individual enough freedom so that he or she may realize their dreams and prosper. I would say that a liberal would argue that we need large government programs to make this happen and they distrust the common man to be able to take care of himself.

I really don't want to defend this, though to a certain degree, I do agree with it. Where my passion lies however is in the social end of the battle. Liberals in this country would for the most part be pro-abortion, tolerant of all religions except Christianity, passionately supporting the separation of Church and State (by restricting Christian religious freedom and influence), and hostile to any for of absolute truth or standards.

Of course, this is a gross oversimplification, but maybe you can get a bit of where I'm coming from.

I have included a short article on Moral Relativism which I feel is a foundational teaching of American liberalism. I believe that the piece sums up the root of the issue quite nicely.


Moral Relativism - What's It All About?
Moral Relativism is the theory that morality, or standards of right and wrong, are culturally based and therefore become a matter of individual choice. You decide what's right for you, and I'll decide what's right for me. Moral relativism says, "It's true for me, if I believe it."

Moral Relativism - Is It Really Neutral?
Moral Relativism has gradually become the prevailing moral philosophy of western society, a culture once governed largely by the Judeo-Christian concept of morality. While those early standards continue to form the basis for civil law, people by and large are embracing the notion that right and wrong are not absolute values, but are to be decided by the individual and can change from one situation or circumstance to the next. Essentially, moral relativism says that anything goes, because life is ultimately without meaning. Words like "ought" and "should" are rendered meaningless. In this way, moral relativism claims to be morally neutral.

In describing her view on morality, the President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America once stated, ".teaching morality doesn't mean imposing my moral values on others. It means sharing wisdom, giving reasons for believing as I do - and then trusting others to think and judge for themselves." She claims to be morally neutral, yet her message is clearly intended to influence the thinking of others. an intention that is not, in fact, neutral.

Evidence that moral relativism is seen as more "fair" or "neutral" than a "hardline" stance on morality is seen in a 2002 column from Fox News analyst Bill O'Reilly, who asked "Why is it wrong to be right?" In his article, O'Reilly cites recent Zogby poll findings regarding what is being taught in American universities. Studies indicate 75% of American college professors currently teach that there is no such thing as right and wrong. Rather, they treat the questions of good and evil as relative to "individual values and cultural diversity." The problem with this, according to O'Reilly, is that "they see the world not as it is, but as they want it to be. And annoying questions about moral absolutes and unacceptable behavior are usually left unanswered."

Moral Relativism - Where Do You Stand?
Moral Relativism is a worldview. To determine for yourself which position to hold where morality is concerned, you must first determine what you believe about the origin of life. Do you believe life evolved or do you believe life was created? Evolution and moral relativism go hand-in-hand, for evolution teaches that life is accidental, without meaning or purpose. Therefore, anything you do is OK, because it ultimately doesn't matter. If you believe we are created, however, moral relativism cannot work. Creation implies a Creator. All things created are subject to a set of laws, whether natural or divine. Moral relativism says anything goes .but does it? Is it better to torture a child, or to hug that child?

C.S. Lewis points to the nature of most quarrels as a clue to what we truly believe. Inherent in those quarrels is a concept of fairness, as in "how would you like it if someone did that to you?" When we make that statement, we are appealing "to some kind of standard of behavior [we] expect" the other person to know about. Where do you think that standard originates?

In his September 19, 1796 Farewell Address to the nation, George Washington stated: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars." William McGuffey, author of the McGuffey's Readers, which were the mainstay of America's public school system from 1836 till the 1920's, wrote: "Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man." Where do you think the world is heading today?

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Hi Steve,

Thanks for that, and for helping me understand the difference in what the terms mean in America. Have to say I can't think of anything more diametrically opposed to compassion as "rugged individualism". We had a long time under Mrs Thatcher when this ethic was aggressively promoted, and we are still paying the price in terms of a society which has become increasingly self-seeking: nothing surprises us any more.

That the common man might not be trusted to be able to take care of himself would be the case for victims of rugged individualism, where an amoral level of prosperity in certain sections of society has left others bereft of ordinary basic human requirements and services. Life can be cruel if you have no money, no prospects, no hope...and live in a damp bedsit somewhere. You need help to get out of that. You know we have seen a return of Tuberculosis - the slum disease - over here, and no one thought we could ever go there again.

The article you pasted seemed to be saying that in order for our societies to function as such we need to embrace, teach and enforce the fundamental and absolute values of right and wrong that God has... That supposes that humans have understood God correctly by saying that His values exist in such absolutes.

I have no problem with teaching the Bible as it is, hit it on the nose...but I do have a problem with how far some would wish to take it in enforcing absolute values of right and wrong, and see how this could be abused. There has to be some room for mercy. There has to be teaching of truth in the Spirit or no one gets the Gospel message and takes it to heart. There has to be some measure to support the weak, however that weakness is manifested. No good thumping the pulpit and preaching hell fire with no unction: all you get then is more people raised up to do the same.

I believe that lawbreaking is a spiritual problem regardless of what the laws actually are; that humans are simply not able to live by any rules without sometimes breaking them. It is just the way we are outside of the body of Christ. It seems cruel to me to excessively penalise people for doing things that they are powerless to prevent, at least to an extent.

I think that the right wing church has saved and unsaved just like any other place, and that if unsaved, regardless of what church you attend or what your politics are, you cannot but be "wrong" in God's sight, because you are not justified by faith.

Similarly, quite regardless of politics or social standing or any other thing, if you are saved and you know you are then you are "right" in God's sight, because of Jesus.

The absolutes are of God, not what man says are of God. In Jesus therefore, the assurance of what is right and wrong is an interior one, going well beyond the rules in good works and wholesome lives, and freeing us to minister and to worship according to God's working. Those who truly have the love of God will want to serve Him above any requirement of any law.

Thanks for the input,

Love, Mary

Yo Jay!!

Much love to you bro!! I am enclosing an email that I sent to a Priest at my Episcopalian Church that I think speaks to this whole Liberal and Conservative thing that you brought up in this last letter. Jay when I think of you and the beautiful work that you do, one verse come to mind: Mathew 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememerest that thy brother hath aught against thee; 24: Leave there thy gift at the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Here's the email big man. Also your prayers would be appreciated because a brother is still going through some things.

Yo Susanna,

I believe that your revelation about the brokenness of the rich is telling to a deep truth. A truth that I believe is deeper than the dichotomy of the parable of the sheep and the goats. I believe that this dialectic. This polarization that we see in scripture is a very dangerous thing that clouds our understanding. Because it tempts us always to see what category people fit into. Are they good? Are they bad? I mean we are instructed in scripture not to judge. But the polarizations tempt us to do that very thing.

It's like telling a cat not to eat mice, but then showing them videos of mice being eaten by cats over and over again. I mean we are all scared of being the bad guy of scripture. Of being the ahab, or the jezebel. Of being like Judas who betrayed Jesus. Of being the Thomas who doubted and demanded to see before he would believe. We are all so scared of being the Goats. So we convince ourselves that we are the Sheep and some "other" are the goats. If we are tolerant and understanding, then the intolerant and merciless are the Goats. If we are weak and avoid conflict, then the strong who embrace conflict are the Goats. If we are compassionate and help the poor, then those who tell them to get a job are the goats. If we are poor, then the rich are the goats. If we are rich, then the "lazy" poor are the goats. If we drink then those who are self-righteous and don't drink are the goats. If we don't drink, then those who are lascivious and drink are the Goats. If we are liturgical then those damn impatient evangelicals are the goats. If we are evangelical, then those luke warm liturgicals are the goats. If we believe that there is truth in all religions, then those close minded conservatives are the goats. If we are conservative, then those adulterous pluralists are the goats. If we have confessed, then those who would not receive God's grace are the goats. If we haven't confessed, then those hypocrites who soil the name of Jesus are the goats.


Woodrow Lucas

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