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Liberation Theology Essay

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The impact of liberation theology on Christianity was to emphasize action, freedom and human rights of the poor. In 1955 CELAM, Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul V1's letter, laid a foundation for the emergence of a self-conscious theology. Liberation theology focuses on liberation of the oppressed from political, social and economical injustice. The theology critically analyses activity of the church and of Christians from the angle of the poor. Liberation theology is to be acted upon not just learnt.

Liberation theology thus emerged as a result of a systematic, disciplined reflection on Christian faith and its implications. The theologians who formulated liberation theology usually do not teach in universities and seminaries, they are a small group of Catholic or Protestant clergy and have direct contact with the grass-roots groups as advisors to priests, sisters or pastors. Liberation theology interprets the Bible and the key Christian doctrines through the experiences of the poor. It also helps the poor to interpret their own faith in a new way. It deals with Jesus' life and message. The poor learn to read the Scripture in a way that affirms their dignity and self worth and their right to struggle together for a more decent life. The poverty of people is largely a product of the way society is organized therefore liberation theology is a "critique of economic structures".

Phillip Berryman described the liberation theology in the following terms:

"Liberation theology is:

1. An interpretation of Christian faith out of the suffering, struggle, and hope of the poor.

2. A critique of society and the ideologies sustaining it.

3. A critique of the activity of the church and of Christians from the angle of the poor.

This theology has given the catholic church a new doctrine based on a phrase "preferential option for the poor" which has been incorporated in catholic teachings such as dignity of the human person, eradication of injustice and the churches commitment to human rights.

Gustavo Gutierrez was a theologian who wrote about liberation theology. In 1971 he wrote a book " A Liberation Theology" which included one of the greatest liberation quotes " who are the poor". This phrase helped convey the situation of the oppressed and to clearly identify to the church who they were, what their situation was and to further develop strategies that would change the lives of the poor. Gutierrez started a different method of theology by starting it from grass root levels with peoples experiences of injustices rather than above from Gods revelation. The main focus "preferential option of the poor" acknowledged both the universality of God's love and



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