As we come to the end of Black History Month, we’ve been reflecting on how the Bible and Black history are connected, and what this means for the church today. A vital part of this is an understanding of ‘liberation theology’. Here’s a breakdown of what that is and why it matters.
What is liberation theology?
Theology is the study of God’s character and action in the world. Liberation theology highlights God’s concern for the liberation of people who are marginalised, poor and oppressed.
The clear implication of this is that it must also be a central concern of the church. The church must actively and deliberately play its part in the liberation of oppressed peoples.
Are these ideas Biblical?
Absolutely. Liberation theology is deeply rooted in scripture. From the very beginning, God charges his people with creating a culture of justice for the vulnerable. Here are a few key passages from the Old Testament:
‘This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.’ (Jeremiah 22:3)
‘He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down.’ (Psalm 146:6-8)
‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?’ (Isaiah 58:6-7)
In other words, a significant part of our relationship with God is defined by how we treat those who have been let down by society.