Skip to content

Kingdom-World-Church and Liberation Theology

Among the many discussions that ensued after Nate, Ry, and I posted Kingdom-World-Church, one of the more interesting ones (to me) involved the precise nature of the relation between our theses and Liberation Theology. That there was some important connection was clear from the theses themselves, both in the citations and content, especially regarding the church as the church of/for/with the poor. But questions were raised regarding whether or not the affinity between the project the three of us are undertaking is engaged with Liberation Theology in more than a merely apparent manner.

A thorough exploration of the connection between this project in Liberation Theology will certainly be made clear in the course of the future developed work, but for now, it may be helpful for us to take note of this passage from the first pages of Leonardo Boff’s Church: Charism and Power, which, please note, none of the three of us had encountered prior to our writing of the theses:

Kingdom-World-Church [this is the actual subtitle!]

In order to go beyond mere phenomenological analysis, we must identify the theological poles that enter into our understanding of what it is to be Church. The Church cannot be understood in and of itself because it is affected by those realities that transcend it, namely the Kingdom and the world. World and Kingdom are the two pillars that support the entire edifice of the Church. The reality of the Kingdom is that which defines both the world and the Church. Kingdom–the category used by Jesus to express his own unique intention (ipsissima intentio)–is the utopia that is realized in the world, the final good of the whole of creation in God, completely liberated from all imperfection and penetrated by the Divine. The Kingdom carries salvation to its completion. The world is the arena for the historical realization of the Kingdom. Presently the world is decadent and stained by sin; because of this, the Kingdom of God is raised up against the powers of the anti-Kingdom, engaged in the onerous process of liberation so that the world might accept the Kingdom itself and thus achieve its joyous goal.

The Church is that part of the world that, in the strength of the Spirit, has accepted the Kingdom made explicit in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnated in oppression. It preserves the constant memory and consciousness of the Kingdom, celebrating its presence in the world, shaping the way it is proclaimed, and at the service of the world. The Church is not the Kingdom but rather its sign (explicit symbol) and its instrument (mediation) in the world.

These three elements–Kingdom, world, and Church–must be spelled out in their proper order. First is the Kingdom as the primary reality that gives rise to the others. Second is the world as the place where the Kingdom is concretized and the Church is realized. Finally, the Church is the anticipatory and sacramental realization of the Kingdom in the world, as well as the means whereby the Kingdom is anticipated most concretely in the world.

There is a danger of too close an approximation, or even identification, of the Church and the Kingdom that creates an abstract and idealistic image of the Church that is spiritualized and wholly indifferent to the traumas of history. On the other hand, an identification of the Church and the world leads to an ecclesial image that is secular and mundane, one in which the Church’s power is in conflict with the other powers of the world. And there is the danger of a Church centered in on itself, out of touch both with the Kingdom and the world, such that it becomes a self-sufficient, triumphal, and perfect society, many times duplicating the services normally found in civil society, failing to recognize the relative autonomy of the secular realm.

These dangers are theological ‘pathologies’ that cry out for treatment; ecclesiological health depends on the right relationship between Kingdom-world-Church, in such a way that the Church is always seen as a concrete and historical sign (of the Kingdom and of salvation) and as its instrument (mediation) in salvific service to the world.” (pp. 1-2).

Now, I should say that we would probably need to qualify what we mean when we speak of the church as the “mediation” of the kingdom in the world, but the affinity between Boff’s account here and the account we have gestured towards in the theses should be more than apparent in this quote. The point, if it needs to be said, is that for us, a sustained re-engagement with Liberation Theology is much, much more than merely a surface-level, or apparent concern. Indeed, one of the key concerns we have about about the state of much of contemporary ecclesio-concentric theology is the way in which it relies on a sort of back-door rejection of the specific concerns and critiques of Liberation Theology in favor of exalting ecclesial and sacramental practices cast in theopolitical verbiage (e.g. Bell’s Liberation Theology After the End of History and Cavanaugh’s Torture and Eucharist).

34 Comments

  1. d. stephen long wrote:

    Spot on with the Milbank critque — the swipe at Cavanaugh and Bell is unfortunate. Spend a year or so in Chile like Cavanaugh did or one month each year in Honduras as Bell does before making such adolescent gestures.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    To be clear, I was not trying to impugn their personal lives or action vis a vis Latin America, only observing what is operative in their published works which very clearly involves a way of sidelining the concrete critiques and proposal of liberation theologians in favor of their own proposals (which both center on finding the “solution” to the problems under discussion in a renewed understanding of ecclesial practices). I don’t see why this is controversial. It is quite clear from their works that they have fundamental critiques of Liberation Theology, I’m simply disagreeing with their approach. I don’t see how that merits your slur.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink
  3. Halden wrote:

    In fact, I call bullshit on your invocation of the fact that they spent time in Latin America. That in no way serves as an independent validator of their published theological works. Would you buy it if I told you that you had to spend a decade or so living in intentional community before your arguments about the nature of the church deserved consideration? I doubt it.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  4. Tim McGee wrote:

    What does it mean that the “world” (at least from this snippet) functions as a vacuous, empty place, a blank stage or arena? Is it a “nothingness” presupposed by the kingdom and overcome by the concretization of the kingdom in/as the church (Hegelian…)? With such an account of the world (world-as-absence-of-kingdom), will not the Church always be positioned as master over or apogee of the world: the world is simply an empty space waiting to be filled by the kingdom in/as/through the Church?

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Permalink
  5. Halden wrote:

    TIm, I can’t say for sure what Boff develops in his notion of “world” as I haven’t finished the book. For me, “world” certainly doesn’t signify an emptiness, but rather the more Yoderian and Pauline understanding of the world as creation bound over to futuility through being enslaved by principalities and powers. As such the world is the object of the Kingdom’s coming and the transfiguration it will ultimately bring about. But that does not make “world” and empty space, rather it is a contested space, a site of conflict between what Paul spoke of as cosmic powers of the Spirit and the Flesh in Galatians.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Permalink
  6. Halden – Excellent post. I’m glad you discovered Church: Charism and Power.

    With all due respect to you Dr. Long, your reaction to Halden’s critique of Cavanaugh and Bell is similar to the reaction I had when I read C. and B.’s claim that liberation theology is “insufficiently radical.”

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink
  7. Jeremy wrote:

    Halden, I can’t speak about Cavanaugh’s work, but I have read Bell’s book. I can say that I found it quite deficient. I would highly recommend Petrella’s The Future of Liberation Theology which includes a rather damning critique of Bell’s work.

    According to Bell, liberation theologians err whenever they prioritize justice and not forgiveness because “the pursuit of justice merely reproduces the violence that is inherent to capitalism” (Petrella, 131). Also, striving after justice encourages the acquisitive nature that capitalism already promotes. To short-circuit the violent cycle, forgiveness helps disrupt this sinful economy by being an aneconomic gift that brings reconciliation and peace. Basically the oppressed ought to no longer ‘seek justice in terms of distribution of rights” (Petrella, 131). If they continue then it merely demonstrates their lack of faith and hope in God. Anyway, Petrella critiques this idea because liberation theology believes that God is a God of life. Bell forgets that peace is contingent on actual life. Bread and water. The refusal to cease suffering is not merely suffering, rather it leads to death.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink
  8. Halden wrote:

    Thanks for the reference Jeremy. Definitely getting that book as I agree heartily with Petrella’s critique as you’ve summarized it.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  9. E wrote:

    I don’t know if this is at all helpful or relevant, but Jeremy’s note about Petrella reminded me of a theme in Justo Gonzalez’s new book on wealth (Faith and Wealth) in the early church. He explains how the early church documents unanimously favor distributing wealth on behalf of the poor simply because the poor need help. Later (4th c.?) more “enlightened” ideas developed as to why we ought to care for the poor (because it might go well with us now or in the afterlife, or some semi-neoplatonic rationale).

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink
  10. Theophilus wrote:

    How does this simple “pro-life” argument interact with a theology of martyrdom? Call me deontological if you will, but I haven’t manage to shake the thought that it may be better to die than commit actions that are out of line with the violence-renouncing teachings of Jesus. I’m concerned that the ends-justify-the-means qualities of liberation theology legitimates glossing over practicing Christian means.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 8:06 am | Permalink
  11. Brad A. wrote:

    Steve didn’t say it independently validated their works; he’s suggesting (I think) that their works are more nuanced than you give them credit for here.

    In fact, they do not, as you say, “rel[y] on a sort of back-door rejection of the specific concerns and critiques of Liberation Theology”; in fact, they largely agree with LT’s critiques. I did a study of this in my own liberation ethics class, comparing Sobrino and Cavanaugh on empire. These scholars disagree on the solutions, which point to underlying theological differences. This isn’t to say Bell doesn’t give them short shrift, which I think he does.

    It’s also worth noting that in a multi-author liberationist response to RO authors (I don’t remember the name, but it’s edited by Ruether), Bell is slammed all over the place (sometimes sloppily or disingenuously), but Cavanaugh is only mentioned once, and that in a slightly favorable light. That suggests that even liberationists see some difference between these two and the sophisticatino of the work relative to liberationist “concerns and critiques.”

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  12. Brad A. wrote:

    The book is Interpreting the Postmodern: Responses to “Radical Orthodoxy, edited by Rosemary Radford Ruether and Marion Grau.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  13. Rod wrote:

    Thank you Halden. I love me some Leonardo Boff, especially his Trinity And Society.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 8:53 am | Permalink
  14. dbarber wrote:

    To take up Tim’s concerns, which I appreciate: how, effectively, does world as object of transfiguration differ from world as empty space? I think Tim’s point (correct me if i am wrong) is that “empty space” licenses a disposition of mastery, such that to evade mastery would require the ability to learn from, be affect by, benefit from, worldly encounter. Such requirements, it seems to be, are also missing from “transfiguration,” which would make transfiguration also disposed towards mastery. Or no?

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 9:15 am | Permalink
  15. Halden wrote:

    No, Steve said I should shut up because they went to Latin America. That’s a BS argument.

    My point was not to get into the specifics of how these authors break with LT, only to point out that, for both of them in their various ways, they take the critiques and concerns of LT and then offer as “solutions” things like “take eucharist” or “do works of mercy” — in short, their solution is to recommend a renewed understand of ecclesial practices as a conceptual way of dealing with the liberationist problem. I don’t think that is in any way an unfair summary of their works, which I’ve read very closely.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink
  16. Halden wrote:

    I would certainly say no, as the church — which is part of the world — is no less the object of transfiguration. As such the church must indeed “learn from, be affect[ed] by, benefit from” encounter with those outside of it, indeed I take this to be fundamental to what “church” means.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  17. Jeremy wrote:

    A theology of matryrdom makes me really uncomfortable. Whenever suffering is fetishized I’m always suspect.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink
  18. Halden wrote:

    I have a post coming out later this week on recent theologies of martyrdom which may have a bearing on some of this.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink
  19. dbarber wrote:

    Halden, I appreciate the reply. As i take it, then, there are two oppositions: (1) the conflict between “Spirit” and “Flesh” (to use your terms — I’m happy to adopt others); (2) between church and non-church, both of which, i presume on your account, belong to the world. Now, if the world is not to be a nothingness, then it would have to be a something, and, furthermore, to avoid mastery this something would have to be a something from which one can learn.

    Where, then, in your account (if i have rightly adumbrated it) does this learning take place? On one hand, learning seems to involve a learning of the Spirit and a putting-off of the flesh… but concretely/determinatively this cannot happen outside of the church vs. non-church opposition, right? So either the site of this learning of the Spirit is the church, which would be to refuse non-church, or it is the non-church, which would then become church. So either way — again correct me if i’m missing something — there seems to be a coming-back to the church, even if by way of a Hegelian detour through the non-church.

    So, if you say that the world is the object of transfiguration, even when this is qualified by saying that both church and non-church belong to world, it still seems that nothing is learned from the world. The world, as the dialectic of church and non-church (or the disposession of church through encounter with non-church), still functions as a kind of theater for the Spirit’s transfiguration (as you said, it is an “object”). My point, then, is how this is effectively different from world as empty space?

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  20. Halden wrote:

    Dan, briefly, as I think this conversation has been had before (re: your axiomatic rejection of transcendence of any sort), I would say that the what makes my formulation here functionally different from what you describe is that church and non-church in my understanding exist, not in a relationship of mastery but of mutual solidarity. The Spirit’s work of transfiguration is not to make non-church into church but rather to transform the world into the kingdom of God. The church is a sign of this transfiguration but this does not mean that the church is in a superior position in regard to this transfiguration vis a vis the rest of creation (In other words I’m not saying that the church “is” the transfiguration that the world awaits, rather both church and not-church await the same transfiguration together in a relationship of solidarity.)

    Ultimately I think your political and ontological commitments don’t allow us to agree on certain points as I do believe that creation is enslaved to principalities and powers and stands in need of transfiguration from outside itself (i.e. I am a Christian). However I don’t see how any of this bears on the possibility of “learning” in any direction.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Permalink
  21. dbarber wrote:

    Heresiology! Who gets to decide what a Christian is!

    Ok, more seriously (though actually I”m serious in the previous line), I’ll accept that we just have different presuppositions, that we’ve “had this conversation before,” etc. But, still, and not to get too meta, but… why not just say we have different ontological commitments, as you do, and leave at that, why insist on drawing lines around the “true Christian”?

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink
  22. dbarber wrote:

    Thinking about this some more, and anxious about coming off as snarky (I don’t intend to be), nevertheless: I find it ironic that in a post about the anteriority of the world to the church, in a comment where you call for “solidarity” between church and not-church, and after a post about the lingering effects of colonial reason on contemporary theology… you take upon yourself the responsibility of playing the Inquisitor (a persona that had something to do with said colonial reason) and excommunicating me. This has to do with what I mean about “learning.”

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
  23. Halden wrote:

    By no means am I attempting to set my own views up as the only “true Christian” ones. I mean only to make the fairly non-controversial point that like, 99.9% of what is typically understood as Christian theology has involved and affirmation of divine transcendence and claims like the world stands in need of redemption. I’m not excommunicating anyone, only trying to accurately state the different perspectives at work here so that conversation may be had in a more well-lighted arena. I feel like I am indeed “learning” in this discussion. I never meant to make it seem otherwise. I just don’t think that “learning” is facilitated well by shadows which is why I sought to shine the light on what seems to really be at work in the questions here.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  24. dbarber wrote:

    I appreciate the lighting of presuppositions. It’s important to be aware of such things. Yet even as I wouldn’t want to insist on some pure space of neutral dialogue, I do think discussion can emerge across presuppositional differences. Intriguing questions for me would be: why the ontological commitment to the transcendent? why the different political commitment (I’m not sure what you take my commitment to be)?

    Regarding the appellation of Christianity: I’d actually challenge the “non-controversial” character of your account of Christianity, or that of a 99% majority. If one takes a longer view, it’s actually the case that a consistent notion of Christian identity didn’t emerge until the year 200 (Yoder) or even 600 CE (Boyarin). And if I’m remembering correctly, Charles Taylor makes the case that “Christianity” (as we now imagine it) never really existed in its orthodoxy so much as during 19th Century Britain. What i’m trying to say, i guess, is that “Christianity” is very much an “imagined community” (to use Anderson’s well-worn phrase). What it means to be Christian is precisely what is in question. And it seems important, for me at least, that insistence on a very normative answer to this question (one that is implied by the security you seem to have in what everybody means by Christian) has often been linked to imperial or colonial situations.

    In other words, for me, intellectual virtue or ethics demands that one hold in question (Christian identity) precisely what you seem to place as a presupposition. (Which, to get quite “meta”, is something like my own presupposition about presuppositions about Christianity.)

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Permalink
  25. Halden wrote:

    For the record I don’t find any “security” in the appellation of “Christian.” I was simply trying to describe the content of my views in a way that was recognizable. To be sure we can endlessly hold open the meaning of “Christian”. I have no problem with doing so as long as we are seeking true conceptual clarity rather than just being evasive or simply defining terms to suit our fancies: i.e. I’m not sure why we’d want to call something “Christianity” that fundamentally disagreed with most of what the broad historical phenomenon the bears that name had held. What would be gained by that other than making the appellation an empty cipher for us to fill with whatever content we want?

    Also I wasn’t seeking to pinpoint the emergence of putative “Christian identity” in my comments. Rather I was speaking in the broadest possible sense about the fact that my convictions flow from what I take to be the message of Jesus as witnessed in Scripture. The witness of Scripture, to my reading (and I think any serious reading) insists on an affirmation of divine transcendence (obviously debating this would be a whole other discussion). Because I am committed to this message, I am committed to a belief in a living God, a God who acts, has acted in Jesus and the Spirit and continues to act in and for the salvation of the world. Whether we ultimately decide to call that position “Christian” or not is not really of much concern to me.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Permalink
  26. dbarber wrote:

    (It won’t let me reply to your comment below, so here i am.) Let me try to clarify: the point of my comment was that it is best not to begin with the normativity of a “broad historical phenomenon.” (For instance, I conjecture that you are a pacifist, but a case could be made that that’s going against the broad historical phenomenon of Christianity; patriarchy can be seen as a broad historical phenomenon, I’m not going to assent to it though.) That’s the key matter in my mind, and it renders epiphenomenal the binary opposition between “conceptual clarity” and “being evasive” (this opposition, for what it’s worth, seems very contemporary, and it also seems central to fundamentalism — not saying you are fundamentalist, just that the binary seems proper to it).

    In any case, the sticking point here seems to be the question of transcendence — I am axiomatically, as you say, opposed to it (though i do have my reasons!), you are axiomatically committed to it (i’m sure you have yours). You mention many of your other “convictions,” on which you don’t really know my position. So I guess what remains unclear to me is why a difference over ontology gets identified with a question of orthodoxy.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Permalink
  27. Halden wrote:

    Again, if I wasn’t clear I did not intend to make the matter a question of “orthodoxy.” Only pointing out that certain elements of the position I’ve articulated, to which you are opposed, seem to me to be deeply embedded in the biblical depiction of the gospel of Jesus. This by no means indicates to me the end of conversation or mutual learning, but rather seems to me to be essential to beginning the conversation properly.

    And perhaps it would be helpful for such future conversations if, in some future posts or something, you did articulate some of convictions you have not disclosed as of yet, what sort of politics exactly you are recommending, etc. Perhaps that would go further toward dispelling the shadows and illumining the presuppositions at work here, which, I think could help foster ongoing and more helpful give and take as we continue to explore these issues.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Permalink
  28. Charlie Collier wrote:

    For what it’s worth, Halden, I don’t think Steve was telling you to shut up because Bell and Cavanaugh spent time in Latin America. I suspect Steve finds your particular critique and its implications facile in light of the fact that Bell and Cavanaugh have made significant personal commitments to particular people in Latin America. I think he’s saying that social location matters. How could a liberation theologian object?

    As for eucharist and works of mercy being “a conceptual way of dealing with the liberationist problem,” you lost me. Doesn’t Cavanaugh suggest politicians and generals should have been excommunicated? I read “Torture and Eucharist” as an attempt to think through how ecclesial practice could have made, should have made, and in some cases actually did make a real difference in the lives of those suffering from an abusive regime. Is your position that it could not, should not, and did not?

    Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Permalink
  29. Brad A. wrote:

    Charlie’s quite right. You essentially accuse them of being disingenuous. Yet both B & C have demonstrated solidarity (a fundamental element of LT) in their own ways, and that is indeed what Steve was, albeit a bit too snarkily, referring to. Granted, I think Cavanaugh’s work is better than Bell’s, but that just points to the problem of lumping them together like this.

    Halden, you said in your original post that B & C reject LT’s concerns and critiques. I said they do not, but that they reject LT’s solutions. You then changed your wording in your response to agree with my claim. So then perhaps B & C don’t have a superficial understanding of the situation after all, despite their disagreement on solutions. It’s your lumping of the two together and casual dismissal (which unfortunately is becoming too common vs. “ecclesio-centrism” – a term that itself is far too misleading (not to mention stigmatized by you gents) to be very helpful here). If you’re not going to “get into the specifics,” don’t mention them. You call your readers on that sort of move all the time.

    And I think Charlie’s question at the end really gets at it.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  30. Halden wrote:

    I’ll have to respond further later, perhaps in a future post, but I don’t see how anyone who reads either of the books I mention honestly can deny that they reject deeply central features of LT. Every liberation theologian I’ve ever run across calls for things like the redistribution of wealth and the re-ordering of unjust social arrangements that are oppressive to the poor. Cavanaugh says that to seek this sort of thing this is to participate in the “distinction of planes” and fall captive to the “New Christendom” ecclesiology of Maritain. Bell claims that trying to effect justice in the broader social sphere remains caught up in the logic of capitalism and that the church should instead “refuse to cease suffering” and forgive their oppressors, thus “wagering on God.”

    To say that this is to agree on the problem but simply disagree on the solution is simply ridiculous. For Cavanaugh and Bell (who simply can’t be pried apart the way you seem to wish, at least not in the two works mentioned) the fundamental theological problem is that the church ceases to understand itself as a fully embodied political body in its own right over-against the state (hence the importance of excommunication as the fundamental mode of resistance to the powers for Cavanaugh). For liberation theologians the fundamental theological problem is the actual structuring of the whole society in a way that systematically oppresses the poor. In short, there is a fundamental disagreement about the nature of the problem between these thinkers and indigenous liberation theologians. I don’t actually think that Bell or Cavanaugh would disagree. I don’t really know why that’s such a sticking point for you.

    Now, I agree with many things that Bell and Cavanaugh say, and with many of their diagnoses of capitalism, the nation-state, etc. But it is undeniable that they break substantially with many central elements of LT. I haven’t accused them of disingenuity or not caring about the poor, I’ve simply noted that I disagree with them on some theological points regarding how we ought to appropriate LT in the contemporary theological task. Why is simply stating that one disagrees with a given work such an occasion for indignation?

    Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Permalink
  31. Brad A. wrote:

    I wrote a response earlier on a different PC, which then got deleted because I forgot to enter my name and email. It was carefully worded, but I don’t remember quite what I said now that I’m home. So let me just address three points:

    1. In the final sentence of your original post, instead of comparing B&C’s critiques with LT’s (A to A) or comparing B&C’s solutions with LT’s (B to B), you said B&C rejected LT’s critiques by via diverging solutions (A to B). I’ve been trying to point out that that doesn’t really make your case.

    2. I’ll need to see some specific quotations on the point about Cav rejecting socio-economic reordering as captive to New Christendom. I don’t remember. Certainly, he rejects (as does Bell, of course) reordering via coercion and perhaps even violence (and why would you criticize B&C for that?), which is where there is a marked divergence between him and some LTs. However, from what I’ve read, Cavanaugh has no problem with identifying structures of injustice and oppression and calling them out as such. In fact, some of his critiques and some of LT’s are quite similar (empire being merely one example). Bell’s a bit of a different matter, being much more straightforwardly opposed to LT’s general approach, yet still agreeing at least on the empirical problems. That’s partially why B&C can’t be so easily lumped together on this issue. Also, Cav’s written a lot more in this general area, so why should his corpus be reduced to one book in this manner? Moreover, you’re certainly right that Cav has a different emphasis than LT does in terms of the problem, but as you lay them out here, I don’t really see how they’re mutually exclusive. Indeed, part of my own work in this area showed to what extent Cavanaugh and Budde (among others) and liberationist theologians had quite a bit in common and could be considered complementary to some extent.

    3. I didn’t intend to come off as indignant, but I think considering the conversation on this blog in the past couple of months (not counting your absence), it’s easy to perceive your final sentence – which sort of comes from left field – as a swipe. Among other concerns Charlie and I have already mentioned, the label “ecclesio-centric” does not function on this blog merely as a descriptor of the emphasis of one author school of thought as contrasted with others, but denotes for you and certain others a theopolitical approach that is inherently inadequate and corrupt, preferring ideology and institution over the freedom of God, and refusing to be corrected or open to Christ’s action in the world and in the church (whatever that world-church distinction means). That some of us thoroughly disagree with such a characterization explains why that last sentence could have caused some angst.

    Friday, September 10, 2010 at 11:29 am | Permalink
  32. Petrella’s book has its own deficiencies, but it is overall very good. Same with his Beyond Liberation Theology which has, in my opinion, some strange things to say about black theology. It’s especially good to point to these, at least, as examples of the continued rethinking of liberation theologies. They haven’t stood still.

    The Ruether/Grau edited volume is really really good.

    On these issues, two other relevant discussions are Michael Lee’s “dialogue” between Ignacio Ellacuria and Radical Orthodoxy in his book Bearing the Weight of Salvation and Gregory Baum’s essay “For and Against John Milbank.”

    Friday, September 10, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink
  33. Brad A. wrote:

    I actually wasn’t impressed with Ruether/Grau, but maybe that was just me back when I read it. I really thought some of the chapters were sloppy and shrill. Others were better, of course.

    Friday, September 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink
  34. dbarber wrote:

    Halden (and anyone else) — in response to the request to articulate some of the convictions that are operative for me in what i’ve said here, i’ve done a post on the relationship between ethical thinking and the affirmation of a discursive tradition (both of which are (hopefully!) at stake in our comments here): http://itself.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/discursive-tradition-and-ethical-thinking/

    Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 11:01 am | Permalink

Switch to our mobile site