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Theological Reflection
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Theology

Theological Reflection
Praxis-oriented Theology

While the ruling and privileged classes everywhere feel threatened by the advent of Liberation Theology and look on it with suspicion and hostility, we  have a duty to develop a middle way (via media) Theology.

We have to advocate a middle path between the traditional dogmatic approach and the extreme liberative approach ending in violence. While the former gives full play to the divine and unchangeable resources, reducing the human to the minimum, the latter gives full play to the human resources and reducing the divine to the minimum.

The middle path would require more study and broader inter-religious dialogue, ethnic harmony, deeper commitment to human rights, social justice, gender justice, rights of children, care for nature and environment etc.

It must be action in terms of our mission in the company of Jesus in prayer. This divine-human Theology can be found in the well-known saying handed down to us by Fr. Nadal:

Pray as though everything depends on God and act as though everything depends on you.

Our via-media theology is a praxis-centred theology. It points to what is actually happening out there in society. It is in the real life of struggles and hopes that God-encounter primarily takes place.

The God-experience in prayer and worship derive its meaning and inspiration from the real encounter with God in a concrete context.
Its transformative praxis transforms the environment, it transforms the theologians themselves. It is in this context we have to speak of doing theology rather than teaching or learning theology.14

Traditional Theology

The traditional Theology  has been primarily based on theory and ideology. It remains only a study of God and his self-revelation. It remains indifferent to the distortions of our social systems and confines our interest to personal salvation.

In this regard Samuel Rayan states:
Theologies that appear to be academic hobbies or exercises in conceptual abstractions are being rejected... Theologies that have been silent about global holocaust of many centuries are cast aside as enemies of life and of the living God.15

Stereotyped formulas and clichés are often used to escape the responsibility of facing the facts and confronting the powers that be.16

A  new Approach:

We must choose to do a Theology in the socio-economic context of our country. We have to come out of our passivity to activity of a charismatic and prophetic action.

We cannot keep silence when atrocities, sins of injustice and exploitations are  committed against the poor, women, children etc. We must remind ourselves that a tolerated injustice is a committed injustice.

It is only through risk-taking our growth will take place. We have to go out of our narrow interests to  broader interests; moving from dependence to freedom and from self-rejection to self-acceptance. We should not compromise but be confronted with the situation.

In this regard the Indian Theological Association states: Nothing less than a radical transformation is necessary. Our service to the people and our loyalty to Jesus Christ oblige us to reflect and theologise courageously.

The new face of Theological
Reflection:


Theology seems to be in a perpetual revolution. It is open to new insights, new visions and new paradigms. A paradigm shift is a distinctly new way of thinking about old problems. No longer do we understand Theology as the Science of God the Church dogmas or the Church Doctrines.

Theology is to be understood in relation to human life in its totality, even though it is far too human, it does not dethrone God and banish him into exile.6 So Paradigm shift is not a discovery based on deductive reasoning. It arises as type of quantum leap in human understanding.

Today contextual theology is crucially important but it should not be absolutised. What is in context remains theology.

While the traditional theology holds on to its orthodox teachings, the contextual theology tempts to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and makes the claim that context alone is the repository of all theological truth.7 What is needed is a middle way theology.

Theology of Liberation

Today one of the new branches of Theology is Liberation Theology. As a world-wide phenomenon it cuts across continents, churches and races. Born out of the experience of oppression and exploitation in South America, it gets out to establish that Christian theology is primarily about liberation in the world. It is very pragmatic in its orientation. It considers systematic and structural oppression to be the underlying cause of injustice.8

 It opens our minds and hearts to answer the great questions of our day. How does our communal structure serve the spirit of Christ?  What  is it to be our following of  Christ in the  society of today where approximately 50% of the masses live below the poverty line?10

The Liberation Theology answers  that the communal structure often blocks instead of serving the Spirit of Christ. It turns a deaf ear to Paul's warning: Do not be conformed to this world (Rom.12:2). According to the three synoptic Gospels Jesus also warns the disciples not to rule, lord it over and exercise authority as the Gentiles do. (Cfr. Mk. 10:42-45; Mt.20:25-28; Lk.22-27).

The structures are not necessarily wrong, provided they serve God and his people. Today they are considered as divine and unchangeable. Practically all power and authority is ultimately concentrated in the hands of a few and they lord it over the lower ones. This leads to a need for renewal emphasising the importance of the social realities and praxis-oriented theology.11

The Liberation Theology commits itself to those whom the Lord will one day call the least of my brothers and sisters, the community of the little ones who are suffering. (Cfr. Mt.25:31-46). A large number of texts in the gospels show us that Christ identified himself generally with the poor, the least, the outcasts, and all those who are in need.
Liberation Theology makes an option for the poor, the rejected, the oppressed and those who are crippled socio-economically.

It questions when power takes the place of love, and timidity substitutes for courage. The central theme of this Theology is social sin and sinful structures  in the society.

Consequently, it seeks political strategies that help to bring about necessary change in the society. It rejects capitalism. As a new paradigm liberation theology  creates a new theological approach by beginning with the God who reveals himself in the daily struggle of human  liberation.12

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