EN 38: The Church, liberation, and loss of identity

32. We must not ignore the fact that many, even generous Christians who are sensitive to the dramatic questions involved in the problem of liberation, in their wish to commit the Church to the liberation effort are frequently tempted to reduce her mission to the dimensions of a simply temporal project.

§32 comes after a discussion of how the act of evangelism, which let us remember, has been explained essentially as seeking conversion, cannot be separated from the search for justice and, a word that will come back to haunt the Vatican, liberation.

What we find in §32 is an attempt to temper the previous statements in favor of liberation and equality. But it ended up not being strong enough language, or perhaps it simply was ignored after pope Paul's glowing remarks about liberation and justice.

Thee clash between orthodoxy and some of the more radical liberation theologians and liberation practitioners (for lack of a better word) came to a head with the issuance of Splendor of Truth, and encyclical by John Paul II, wherein certain excesses of liberation theology were castigated thoroughly.

But what we see here in §32 is, I think, the main argument against liberation theology that is unpacked by JPII. But clearly, Paul saw the danger before-hand and denounced it. The section continues:

Her activity, forgetful of all spiritual and religious preoccupation, would become initiatives of the political or social order. But if this were so, the Church would lose her fundamental meaning. Her message of liberation would no longer have any originality and would easily be open to monopolization and manipulation by ideological systems and political parties.

Which is what, I think, we have in many of the side-line denominations (ELCA, UMC, Episcopal Church, C of E, the European state churches, Presbyterian, etc) and to some extent, yes, the Roman Catholic Church as well. Of course there are pockets of life in all of these, but at the end of the day to lost sight of the fact that in evangelizing we are seeking an interior conversion and that, to put it bluntly, heaven and hell are real and everyone will end up in one of the two, is for the church to lose her originality and fundamental meaning. The difference between those denominations and Rome is that the power structure in the Roman church is such that if you have good popes (and they have been good since Paul VI days) you have the ability to steer the church back towards the right direction.

Such is generally not the case in the various Protestant churches I have listed. Through a curious, and perhaps cruel, irony of history they seem very resistant to self-reform, leaving the faithful with the "remedy" of just forming a new denomination.


Jeff said…
What are your thoughts on the conversion of Muslims?

Possible? Desirable?
Abu Daoud said…
Hi Jeff,

The short answer to both of your questions is yes, and yes.

If you want to read all about why Muslims convert and some practical ideas for churches who want to see Muslims converting please download my article "Apostates of Islam" from HERE.

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