An Evangelical Theology of Human Liberation

This is the first of a two-part series. Next month’s article will sketch the social and ethical implications of the fall and the powers of the old age, as well as the new creation made possible in the cross, the resurrection, the coming of the Spirit and the creation of the church.

This is an outline of a systematic theology for public discipleship. Its purpose is to organize familiar theological concepts into a systematic framework which will display forcefully the strength of the biblical witness to social justice and human liberation.

It is termed an “evangelical theology of human liberation” because it seeks faithfully to proclaim the biblical gospel in the context of a world of suffering, injustice, and inequality.

It is written in reaction first to a “privatizing” of the biblical message by biblical orthodoxy. Somehow large numbers of believers have allowed as forceful a theme as God’s concern for social justice to elude them. But if we object to a reduction of biblical doctrines to private existential concerns, we ought to feel the same revulsion when biblical ethics are suppressed through neglect and the gospel interiorized. We have minimized the social implications of the gospel and need to repent and take a new path. Secondly, we want to separate ourselves from the liberal theological method common in political theology today. According to this method, a motif is selected out of scripture and then driven through it so that major elements of biblical teaching drop out and a fundamental distortion occurs. Our approach consists in interrogating the whole of the Bible with the question: What do the major biblical themes tell us about political discipleship? In deliberately searching for ethical themes we are by no means suggesting there are no others. For us biblical ethics make sense in the context of biblical theology and redemption.

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