Monday, July 23, 2018

Karl Barth and Liberation Theology

From The Living Church-

In June I attended a conference at Princeton Theological Seminary on “Karl Barth and the Future of Liberation Theology.” This paradoxical pairing for a conference theme upended many assumptions I had about Barth and liberation theology. My seminary training tended to belittle liberation theology as Marxism parading in theological garb. We assumed liberation theology is radical in its presuppositions and its conclusions tend to jettison theological orthodoxy. On the other hand, the theology of Barth, with its emphasis on the Christ in whom all humanity is elected and saved, would seem to undercut the claims of a contextual theology that takes its cues from the experience of finite ethnic, social, or gender groups.

I was skeptical coming into the conference, but I left being impressed by the appeal and rigor of the speakers who put Barthian theology in conversation with liberation theology. Paul Jones argued that Barthian studies should be “orthodox, modern, and liberative” — and the conference seemed generally to conform to this paradigm in its variety of perspectives and voices.
That said, there were certainly moments of tension. Luis Rivera-Pagán, emeritus professor at Princeton, noted that he had not read Barth in years, and identified himself as a liberation theologian in the line of Gustavo Gutiérrez, whose book A Theology of Liberation (1971) has become a touchstone of the movement.

More here-

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