Liberation Theology: Rev. Wright, Obama, and the Problem with It All

Much has been made of recently of the words of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his close connection with Obama. Much has also been made of Obama doing his very best to cut any ties he has with Wright, because the ties could have ended his chance of getting into the White House. I don’t want to get into the politics of it all, but I want to take a look at the issue behind it all, liberation theology.

I would summarize liberation theology as the view that our activity in the world plays a key role (if not the only role) in our salvation. It also views Jesus as a liberator of the oppressed. Here are some distinctives of this view:

  1. Serving oppressed people and social classes.
  2. Salvation involves economic, political, and racial equality for all.
  3. The most basic level of liberation is Christ’s granting us freedom from sin.

There is much much more that could be said to summarize liberation theology and I could go into more depth on the specifics of black liberation theology which is something more specific to Jeremiah Wright, but I think it could get really confusing, really quickly. So I’ll stick with this for now.

I, personally, can totally agree with a lot of what liberation theology speaks to, but the premise of everything the view revolves around is flat out wrong.

Why I Disagree-

  • Salvation is not by works. We are righteous in God’s sight not by having done good things but because we have believed (Romans 4:3,9,12).
    • I can hear the arguments now…what about the verses that speak to the importance of works to salvation, specifically the parable of the sheep and goats. I would say, in light of what the Scriptures say throughout, that good deeds flow from salvation, but are not what is needed to receive salvation. (Side note, this is a much much deeper discussion. Sorry if it seems I’m not giving it the weight it deserves here, because I’m not)
  • Liberation theology focuses almost entirely on earthly endeavors.
  • In practice, the economic and political aspects seem to carry more weight than the spiritual matters. The perception given by many liberation theologians is that they would rather have all peoples liberated than to share of their love for Jesus. Scripture seems to care more about our bondage in sin and the rift it has created between us and God, than it cares about deliverance of the oppressed. This isn’t to say Scripture doesn’t care about the oppressed, but liberation theology has blurred the line.
  • To say that God cares more about a specific race is as ridiculous as saying that God cares more about a specific country (example being “God Bless America”). And to those who say I am misunderstanding liberation theology, I say, the perception is that.

I’ve read a couple other things on this same subject here and here that have some good things to say.