Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Question: Ever wonder how modern Socialism, particularly the Marxist brand, seems so much like a religion with its own doctrines and by the intensity of the mind control of its devotees, the young in particular, despite the bloody detritus of Marxist Socialism’s recent history to which many of those same followers seem both blind and deaf?
Answer: That’s the power of a political ideology when the gloss of religion is applied, specifically, its modern iteration steeped in Roman Catholic Liberation Theology (although modern Marxism has equally powerful roots in 1960’s educational philosophy, specifically, through Paulo Friere from his book Pedagogy of the Oppressed).
See what you think.
Introductory Notes on The Contrast Between Roman Catholic Liberation Theology and Jesus’ Liberation Theology
So how can one idea, “liberation,” so noble-sounding–biblical even, in one sense–take on such vastly different meanings and applications, one leading to enslavement the other to freedom? Nowadays, of course, the socio-theology, you might put it, is known more in terms such as “social justice,” “social equity,” “social/economic equity,” and so on.
The secret is the source.
Man might think he has found a way–and it might seem god-like at least in theory, but there is a greater Way–Truth and Life. And of the Christian denominations it isn’t only the Roman Catholic church subscribing to this hybrid theology; however, it’s one of the oldest.
In the case of (Marxist-infused) Roman Catholic Liberation Theology versus Jesus’ Liberation Theology, the contrast can be as significant as the contrast between death and life not only figuratively but also literally, not only temporally but also eternally.
The following biblical narrative helps explain the difference between man’s (and woman’s) ways and God’s, between law and grace, between cultural, time-trapped righteousness, as it were, and what Jesus offers that transcends all cultures and time periods.
What follows the biblical account is a modern narrative from one who was actually involved in Roman Catholic Liberation Theology as a Catholic priest in Trinidad, saw the tragedy of it, left, and has been warning the world ever since in his recorded talks and published writings.
A Biblical Narrative
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42, NIV)
You might say Martha represents religious power that, although perhaps sincere in its intent to fix injustice, is either unaware of or resistant to the ultimate source of spiritual power: Jesus Christ. That is to say, His ways and means because of His role in true redemption as God’s Son, doing what no man or woman can accomplish on our own.
You might say Martha missed the faith–and the primary importance of having a relationship with Jesus part. Mary, on the other hand, understood.
To the topic, but first, some definitions.
Roman Catholic Liberation Theology (RCLT) (Has Man Finally Found A Better Way, A More Equitable Way, to Govern Himself?)
Short answer: No. It’s just a new veneer on an old sin: theft.
Many of the faithful are likely not aware of this, but (Marxist-Infused) Liberation Theology has been influencing the Catholic Church–and from there spreading into non-Catholic denominations as well as secular institutions–for many decades.
But what better way to convince the world that Marxism is a much better social system–despite its horrible history–than by adding a “spoonful of the sugar of religion,” so to speak?
Because religion is where humans tend to flock due to its transcendant importance as the only one of mankind’s primal quests that has some kind of hopeful and ultimate meaning in this worldly mess we often make of things, or just find ourselves in.
I mean, there HAS to be something more than this often miserable, frustrating, bloody coil, no?
So here are a couple of definitions of this complex mix of an interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as leavened with Marxist ideology–one of those tempting belief systems that seems to be almost what we hunger and thirst for, but in the end, spoils.
Liberation theology is a synthesis of Christian theology and socio-economic analyses, based on far-left politics, particularly Marxism, that emphasizes “social concern for the poor and political liberation for oppressed peoples.” Beginning in the 1960s after the Second Vatican Council, liberation theology became the political praxis of Latin American theologians such as Gustavo Gutiérrez, Leonardo Boff, and Jesuits Juan Luis Segundo, and Jon Sobrino, who popularized the phrase “preferential option for the poor.” This expression was used first by Jesuit Fr. General Pedro Arrupe in 1968 and soon after this the World Synod of Catholic Bishops in 1971 chose as its theme “Justice in the World”. continue reading…
Thousands more words in that source detail the ever twising, turning, Marxist-laced RCLT gospel as it has been applied since the 1960s when first codified in Catholic Church writings and encyclicals and based on the earlier writings of St. Thomas Aquinas (see second definition, below), although experiencing also criticism in that religious venue.
But that’s what happens when a little false leaven is folded into the mix.
The next definition is from the writings of the late Richard Bennett, former Catholic priest (Dominican order), who worked for years promoting Liberation Theology in Trinidad, nearly losing his life on the mission, where he at length and to his great dismay saw its relation to what he calls Robin Hood-like theft in the name of religion.
A Modern Narrative–and WARNING
After serving in the priesthood for 22 years, Bennett came to his own personal relationship with Christ and served the remainder of his life explaining the difference between the religion of Roman Catholicism (with love and respect for those yet caught up in its power and pomp) and salvation by grace through faith–in Christ alone–including writing extensively about Roman Catholic Liberation Theology and its heavy influence in not only the Christian churches but also in secular institutions and ideologies.
From his article, “Liberation Theology Infused in Western Thinking,” here are several key excerpts particularly salient in today’s world where we are perhaps nearing the end, globally, of its tragic consequences:
Latin American liberation theology has been a movement linked with the Roman Catholic Church. This is only the tip of the iceberg!
The principles that it proclaims plague Western society. The welfare states in the USA and Europe are just different expressions of the same Catholic mentality seen in official statements of the Vatican. […]
The theological roots of the movement go back to the most influential of all Catholic Theologians, Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas wrote:
“…whatever certain people have in superabundance is due, by natural law, to the purpose of succoring the poor… In cases of need, all things are common property, so that there would seem to be no sin in taking another’s property, for need has made it common. …it is lawful for a man to succor his own need by means of another’s property by taking it either openly or secretly; nor is this, properly speaking, theft and robbery…. It is not theft, properly speaking, to take secretly and use another’s property in a case of extreme need; because that which he takes for the support of his life becomes his own property by reason of that need…. In a case of a like need a man may also take secretly another’s property in order to succor his neighbor in need.”
In Aquinas’ philosophy, need is the criterion for what is right regarding the possession of property. Need can make another’s goods one’s own!
This is simply a philosophical justification for theft. The Robin Hood principle of robbing the rich to feed the poor is also contained in Aquinas’ reasoning. He stated,
“In a case of a like need a man may also take secretly another’s property in order to succor his neighbor in need.”
This is plainly the Robin Hood principle and the basis for later Liberation Theology.[…]
A big part of the roots of Liberation Theology are found in the Catholic Vatican Council II held in Rome from 1962-1965. The council basically endorsed the principle of Aquinas: man legally possesses property that can benefit not only himself but also others.[…]
This Council elucidated the wide disparity between rich and poor nations, and endorsed Aquinas’ philosophical justification for theft. The official words of the Council are,
“The Fathers and Doctors of the Church held this opinion, teaching that men are obliged to come to the relief of the poor and to do so not merely out of their superfluous goods. If one is in extreme necessity, he has the right to procure for himself what he needs out of the riches of others. ” continue reading…
Both definitions also discuss Roman Catholic Liberation Theology’s influence in many other belief systems, notably, Brazilian Liberation Theology, Black Theology, and Palestinian Liberation ideology. It is also an arguable influence in Feminist Liberation and LGBTQ Liberation ideologies.
But that’s what happens when there is little to stop the leaven from bubbling and spreading.
And if there is no true “justifiable need” to excuse the theft, such as no grinding poverty or despotism, well, the world has another kind of leaven that bubbles and spreads to fill any crevice or cranny of greed. It’s called “political spin,” which is to say the propagation (via propaganda) of many words cleverly crafted to bend and twist the tenets of the quasi-religious ideology even more.
Which leads me to the redeeming part of this post.
Jesus’ Liberation Theology
To continue the analogy of the (poisonous) leaven from its source:
Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8, NASB)
In Jesus, as well as in theology that honors Him, the Son of God Who came in the flesh therein to die for us as punishment for our sins that by faith in Him we are saved, there is no malice and wickedness, nor even a “shadow of turning” by which to be confused, misled, or distracted.
Jesus is no Robin Hood, as Marxist Liberation Theology implies, but He Who came to redeem Robin Hood who, though in man’s eyes prized as a hero, was still a thief.
And so to the good, better, and best news of the only liberation theology that serves and saves both oppressed and oppressors, victims and thieves–you and me in whatever our own condition.
From Bennett’s summary:
Christ Jesus the Redeemer and Liberator
In Liberation Theology, Christ is made to look as if He were a revolutionary. He is presented as one who liberates from existing political and social structures. People are told that the Lord wishes them to be able to be free from slavery and that they would come into a state in which they are free to exercise their God given rights. They say that Christ Jesus completely committed Himself to the destruction of poverty, and that it is His will that we should have a classless society. They show Christ as a hero in the struggle against oppression, to free the victims of the Bourgeoisie.
When we study the historical biblical accounts of Christ Jesus we find a totally different picture. Christ Jesus said “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caeser’s; and unto god the things that are God’s” Christ Jesus strongly rebuked violence and proclaimed peace and forgiveness. “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Moreover, Christ Jesus taught good, wise stewardship and investment (Matthew 25: 14-28). The Lord Himself spoke of the Eternal unchangeable god and His unalterable Word of God and did not advocate a mobile, fluctuation, theology as Gutierrez’s, but a theology that is consistent with the mind of God, expressed in His written Word. Christ Jesus mixed freely and gave His message to every social class including government workers. […] Most of all Christ Jesus spoke of “spiritual hunger,” “blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Christ Jesus the Lord gave His life freely for an atonement of sin. Sin, for Christ Jesus and His written Word, is an offence against God. Sin that brings all evil and catastrophe upon man is personal sin, and that must be repented of. Christ Jesus clearly taught that one must repent and believe the Gospel. Christ Jesus did not differentiate those who were oppressed or who had suffered, from all other types of people, all must repent and believe. Christ Jesus’ message to you and to me is “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” His message is to repent of our personal sinfulness, to repent of looking to any theology or church for salvation, and to look to Him alone. […]
Christ Jesus’ purpose and His intent was and is to save His people from their sin. He did indeed speak of “being set free” the means, however, is the truth. “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” […]
Christ Jesus also spoke strongly against tradition contradicting and making void the Biblical truth of the Word. This is exactly what Liberation Theology does. […]
The failure of Liberation Theology is admitted even among those who persist in trying to implement its fantasies. […]
And speaking of “those who persist in trying to implement its fantasies,” to spread its leaven, you might say, one more analogy comes to mind: “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
May I encourage you to spend some time today, like Mary, at Jesus’ feet, listening to His Words of true and lasting liberation.
Here’s another prompt, another reminder as noted also above, in fact, THE reminder that Mary knew, millions of other believers knew and know today, and that both you and I can, too.
Put your ear close:
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
Image of Christ in the House of Mary and Martha by Johannes Vermeer, Wikimedia Commons.