The Promise and Peril of Liberation Theology

Speaker: Categories: Nov 08, 1986

 

[1hr, 5min, 30sec / 54min, 9sec]

ABOUT THE TOPIC:

It would certainly seem an understatement to suggest that we, the members of the Seventh-day Adventist church, have been preoccupied, in recent years, with a host of concerns and questions. A review of FORUM topics presented through the San Diego Chapter attests to this array of issues.

That same review, curiously, tends to identify two major matters which seem to be recurring themes: (1) fiscal practice and policy and (2) nuances or variations in our theology as applied to behavior and religious thought. Local Chapter meeting attendance would suggest that there exists a serious interest in these issues -- an interest further confirmed by the array of questions raised during the question and answer time at the close of each meeting.

Occasionally, we have turned our attention to societal issues here at home. Less often have we ventured beyond our U. S. borders to consider the dynamics of society "out there."

This month's topic may irritate some; cause some to yawn, and others to ask "Why has it taken us so long to address the issue?" At the heart of this disturbance is the awareness that a growing proportion of earth's inhabitants are, willingly or unwillingly, immersed in Marxist-Leninist ideology. Nearly two billion people, according to Gotttfried Oosterwal, Director of the Seventh-day Adventist Institute of World Mission at Andrews University, are being molded and shaped by this socio-politico thought. These same people are also to be introduced to the Good News.

Traditionally, we have reached out to such masses through public condemnation of what we identified as an evil system. More recently, according to Oosterwa1, "It is beginning to dawn on us that Marxism will be with us for a long time to come and that . . . many millions . . . see it a messianic way out." (Focus, Fall, 1986)

Charles Teel, Jr., our speaker for November, suggests that within this reality resides a concept known as liberation theology. He further suggests that this has been termed "the most significant theological development of the century!" The most significant theological development -- really? How could that be? How could anything Marxist, of all political or economic extremes, be even remotely considered theological?

Teel further contends that this liberation theology, "rooted in Latin America [where Marxist ideologies are appealing], has potential as a voice of change throughout Christian lands -- and the world."

By now you may be wondering just what is liberation theology? You may be pondering whether that is what our missionaries bring about through their encounters with the non-Christian world.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER:

Charles Teel's appointments with the San Diego FORUM began in 1980. when he introduced us to a two part presentation entitled, "Dilemmas in the Institutionalization of Adventism," November, 1980 and April, 1981. In May of 1985 he set the backdrop for our current topic through a discussion of "Liberation and Evangelism: Logging a Passage Through Central America."

Dr. Teel was raised in Southern California and, for all practical purposes, has claimed Loma Linda his home. He received his Bachelor's degree in religion from Pacific Union College. He earned a Master of Arts from the SDA Theological Seminary, a Master of Theology degree from Harvard (1970) and a Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University (1972) where his dissertation studied activist clergy who were imprisoned for their civil disobedience activities during the 1960's.

His pastoral and teaching experiences, prior to joining the faculty at Loma Linda University, included Newbury Park, California and Boston, Massachusetts. Currently, he chairs the Department of Christian Ethics at LLU and teaches Christian Social Ethics, Sociology of Religion, and Religion and Society, a course which annually takes him, and students, into Central and South America.

His wife, Marta, is a language teacher in the Colton Unified School District. He has two daughters, Alma, 14, and Melony, 12, both of whom are natives of Honduras.

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