Theology of the Oppressed?

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arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I am wondering if there is a sort of theology of the oppressed? I ask because the SJWs think it includes the immoral monsters of today and anybody who claims they are for whatever reason.
And how should one help the oppressed? Individually? Corporate church lr stand against government injustice? All of the above?
I am curious as to your views.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Trent,

Research the topic of Liberation Theology. They take many of the good verses about God helping the poor and oppressed and make that their main bread and butter and make social justice their main practice.

You've heard the term "identity politics" - well, Liberation Theology is "identity theology." Latin Americans or anyone that has been colonized grabbed hold of Liberation Theology and usually wedded it to Marxist thought-categories until we get many of the liberal churches today (and even recent events in the PCA and SBC).

One can help the poor and oppressed without falling into SJW-speak or adopting a Marxist theology. Traditional Christianity helped buy back slaves from Muslims, and eventually end slavery, help elevate women, ban widow burning, foot-binding, banned prostitution in many places and helped build schools throughout the globe. I read one source (trying to track it down) that stated 75% of all African schools were mission-run (i.e. by Christians/ missionaries/ humanitarians) until the 1970s and decolonization.

Good ways to help the poor and oppressed: (1) Take up Pro-life causes. Who is more oppressed than the millions of the unborn each year. You can do this easily in the US. (2) Help the poor around you that you see, (3) adopt. (4) give to missions to poor areas. (5) Go as a missionary. Many mission contexts include a lot of helping the poor and the oppressed.

Presently in our jungle ministry context we've been trying to teach the Gospel, but have also helped talk to the people about the encroaching government who may try to make a land grab or plant crops dangerous to their way of life like palm oil or look for gold using mercury (all of which poisons the rivers), and we've advised another tribe how to get exclusive river rights to their waters to be the sole harvesters of their crocs instead of outsiders. We are trying to stop infanticide and child-marriage. And opened a school.

There is so much to do all over the world and also in the US.
 
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a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Pergs I'm so grateful for what you and your family are doing in the way of caring for the needy.

I can't add to the theological overview, but I do think God cares very, very much about how we treat the oppressed. Reading Isaiah -- it's full of indictments against people who kept feasts and fasts and made sacrifices but were unjust in their societal dealings, especially to the destitute (see Isaiah 58, for instance). The Old Testament is fulfilled in the work of Christ: the gospel is a feeding of the hungry, a liberation of the imprisoned, etc. God came to do this work with the *spiritual* dimension especially in view. The church has to keep that priority. But Jesus did really physically care for the needs of the marginalised and destitute. He really did feed the hungry. One of the things the early church is busy doing is caring for its poor and disadvantaged, and for the poor in general.

But as Pergs said, all of this has become confused with power. It seems in our culture that claiming to be a victim can be a power play to cancel out someone else's need or drown out somebody else's voice. In some discussions it seems like if we can prove we are the most marginalised, we have some sort of unassailable 'moral high ground'.

And I see people even in the church taking on victim status as an identity. I think a person is diminished that way. It is far more fundamental to full orbed human dignity to identify as those who have been *forgiven* our own sins, than as those have been sinned against. As the forgiven we have real power in the face of evil, not a political power, but power that really does alter landscapes: the power to forgive. To walk free spiritually of bitterness and hatred and to return love for hatred.

All steps can and should be taken to redress injustice -- but if our fundamental identity has become about the wrongdoing of someone else, then we have no purpose, no value, no power except in rehashing and living in the shadow of someone else's sin. We have no righteousness but that: someone else is guilty. Righteousness definitely ought (or our faith is dead, James 1:27) to overflow into love for the needy. But being needy doesn't constitute being righteous. The gospel should teach us that, especially. It is especially as sinners, in bondage to our sin, that we were considered by God destitute and oppressed.

I think you were considering studying to help with special needs education? That is a great way to care for those who don't always have a lot of options in society.

Sorry for the lengthy schpeel. It's something I've thought a lot about for various reasons (and I'm open to being corrected).
 

jw

Administrator
It is interesting to note that one of the sins for which the Lord rebukes Israel (styling Sodom as her sister) was failing to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy," (Ezek. 16.49), particularly in light of their own "fulness of bread." And -whilst we need take great pangs to identify the truly poor and needy, it is our duty nevertheless.
 

Stope

Puritan Board Sophomore
Traditional Christianity helped buy back slaves from Muslims, and eventually end slavery, help elevate women, ban widow burning, foot-binding, banned prostitution in many places and helped build schools throughout the globe. I read one source (trying to track it down) that stated 75% of all African schools were mission-run (i.e. by Christians/ missionaries/ humanitarians) until the 1970s and decolonization.

In connection with this notion/fact that Christians have, for the most part, been the single agents of change for hospitals, human rights, educations, etc etc etc. Substatiated in (and attached here):

The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy
by ROBERT D. WOODBERRY

"This article demonstrates historically and statistically that conversionary Protestants (CPs) heavily
influenced the rise and spread of stable democracy around the world. It argues that CPs were a
crucial catalyst initiating the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass
printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, and colonial reforms, thereby creating the conditions
that made stable democracy more likely. Statistically, the historic prevalence of Protestant missionaries
explains about half the variation in democracy in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania and removes
the impact of most variables that dominate current statistical research about democracy. The association
between Protestant missions and democracy is consistent in different continents and subsamples, and it
is robust to more than 50 controls and to instrumental variable analyses."
 

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Stope

Puritan Board Sophomore
In connection with this notion/fact that Christians have, for the most part, been the single agents of change for hospitals, human rights, educations, etc etc etc. Substatiated in (and attached here):

The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy
by ROBERT D. WOODBERRY

"This article demonstrates historically and statistically that conversionary Protestants (CPs) heavily
influenced the rise and spread of stable democracy around the world. It argues that CPs were a
crucial catalyst initiating the development and spread of religious liberty, mass education, mass
printing, newspapers, voluntary organizations, and colonial reforms, thereby creating the conditions
that made stable democracy more likely. Statistically, the historic prevalence of Protestant missionaries
explains about half the variation in democracy in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania and removes
the impact of most variables that dominate current statistical research about democracy. The association
between Protestant missions and democracy is consistent in different continents and subsamples, and it
is robust to more than 50 controls and to instrumental variable analyses."

Appears this is the day for this type of dialogue as the Gospel Coalition has this posted today:

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/book-review-protestants-faith-made-modern-world
 
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