Disability Theology: Earthed in a Theology of Liberation

“The men and women for whom I speak …  They must on no account be sent to the rear …  They must be kept in the fight for their own sake, and for the sake of the strong.”

Helen Keller,  The heaviest burden of the blind, chapter 17 re-printed in Out of the Dark 1913.

Liberation theology was born out of the oppressive experiences of poor people in Latin America in the 1960s.  It emphasises an interpretation of The Bible which insists that God has a strong bias towards people who are marginalised in society.

An omnipotent, ever present God could have chosen any individuals or groups to represent the divine way.  Yet repeatedly throughout the Hebrew Bible and The New Testament we see that God is predisposed to those who have less of a voice or who feel themselves down-trodden.

We have the story of God’s assurance that a small, relatively insignificant people will be released from the oppressive power of Egyptian domination.  Likewise God chose the least engaging in a conventional sense to be God’s prophets and teachers.  

In the New Testament Jesus returns to this, preaching about who will find favour in the Kingdom of God.  Then healing people living with disadvantages whilst keeping company with those ostracised by many in society.

Liberation theology sees the Kingdom of God as an entirely realisable goal.  Faith if it’s to achieve liberation, healing and a new order where all are  valued must be subversive and politically adept given society’s current preoccupations.  Although liberation theology is rooted in a Marxist critique, it is also planted firmly in this irrefutable biblical narrative.

Those who are unjustly treated will find not simply love and acceptance but also justice when the Kingdom comes.


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