A couple of words about Liberation theology. A lot of people have been asking about Liberation theology because of Dr. Jeremiah Wright, who was Barack Obama’s pastor. Jeremiah Wright was incredibly influenced by Liberation theologian James Cone, who defined sin as not primarily a religious impurity, but rather “it’s the social, political and economic oppression of the poor. It’s the denial of humanity as a neighbor through unjust political and economic arrangements.” Further, this is the notion that the Bible is not an infallible witness but only a source pointing to the reality of God, particularly within the social context of the experience of God liberating Blacks. Black and White here are not so much references to skin pigmentation as to relationship between oppressed and oppressor, with the Blacks being oppressed regardless of what their skin color is and the Whites being the oppressors. In that sense Jesus was a Black man struggling for liberation in His world and sin is anything that opposes the liberation of the oppressed, and of course salvation is the rising up of the oppressed against the oppressor by any means necessary.
Now, the problem here is that Jeremiah Wright is communicating this Liberation theology, which is directly opposed to biblical theology, but in hysterical manners, and that was picked up by the media and they played this clip of him talking about the HIV virus being something that was invented by the government and it was a way of committing genocide against people of color.
Obviously this is hysterical and ridiculous, but this is only the tip of the iceberg. They’ve played it, but they were not realizing that there’s a theology under the iceberg and that theology is not Christian theology. This is a theology that has obviously very much impacted Barack Obama.
Certainly people in Wright’s heritage have been oppressed, but Wright himself is anything but oppressed. Rather than redefining sin and redemption in terms of socioeconomic class struggle, as pastors and church leaders we should concentrate on spiritual reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ, because when that happens we have reconciliation with one another as well. So if we want to have class reunification as opposed to class struggle it comes by the change that takes place in the human heart, because when your heart is changed you do not see people as Black and White or as superior and inferior. You see people as people. At the foot of the cross there is no distinction and in Christian theology there is no Black or White, there is no Jew or Greek, there is no slave or free, there is no male or female. We are one in Christ. We are plain old human beings and we have complete equality in a biblical worldview.
So I say again that the problem you have is that the notion being communicated is a theology that doesn’t help harmonize the class struggle but actually accentuates it, particularly when you use these kinds of shrill comments which have no basis in reality such that you start believing that the government has some kind of oppressive force that’s using HIV to oppress people. This is nonsense and, unfortunately, it’s nonsense being communicated to a huge congregation and being bought into by literally hundreds of thousands of people.
I find it interesting that today you have people like Chris Matthews who are singing the praises of Obama. In fact he said “I’ve never seen anything like this. This is bigger than Kennedy. Obama comes along and seems to have the answers. This is the New Testament.” Now, whether Obama has the answers or not, what his political realities and the future will be or not is not mine to determine. What I should point out, though, is what I’ve pointed out, and that is Black Liberation theology or Liberation theology in general as codified by Dr. Jeremiah Wright – and he’s not alone, he’s just one of many – is not the solution to the problem of the oppressed and the oppressor. The solution is found in Jesus Christ, and we should be communicating that with power and passion, not turning the New Testament on its head, but communicating real New Testament theology as communicated in essence by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.