Liberation theology or victimology?

As the Unity Fellowship Church prepares to celebrate its 25 year anniversary, we thought it prudent to take a look at their doctrine called “liberation theology”. Is it acceptable Christian doctrine? Does it pass the test of right division and right application of scripture?

While the UFC’s founder Carl Bean (pictured, left) did not originate the term nor become the first to use it, he did introduce it into black gay religious thought.

Liberation theology is, in the broader sense, a component of the Christian social justice movement with Marxist overtones. Using scriptures like Matthew 10:34 and Luke 22:35-38, proponents see themselves as literal emissaries of Christ to liberate those they consider poor and oppressed. Teachers pitted orthopraxy (practice) against orthodoxy (doctrine) as the more acceptable way to express Christianity. Thus, liberation theology was adaptable to any group which designated itself “oppressed”. It was in this context that Bishop Carl Bean saw liberation theology as a fitting expression of the Unity Fellowship Church.

Social justice religion has become paired with political religion as a mean of accomplishing the goals of liberation theology proponents. Christian disciplines such as prayer and love are not viewed as effective tools of change, so it became necessary to partner with political entities and incorporate political causes to “liberate” the poor and oppressed.

Bean’s interpretation of liberation theology was that [quote]:

— it is not a male-dominated hierarchy
— it is not oppressive to women
— it is not oppressive to Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual,
Intersexual, or Heterosexual people
—God is greater than any religion, denomination or
school of thought

1. Is not a male dominated hierarchy.
Obviously a rejection of the patriarchial system of the scripture and society, Bean’s first point seems to be a further rejection of the men in power would not allow homosexuality an influential place in the church. Use of the word “domination” suggests a authoritarian rule of men, but plays well into the liberation victimology (us vs them) mindset. In this case, oppressed by men. However, Bean did not follow his own guidelines. In its 25 years of operation, the UFC never allowed a woman to advance to its heirarchy of leadership. It wasn’t until more lesbians began starting UFC churches that the demand for representation at the top became more vocal. Consequently, the UFC is set to ordain its first female bishop, Tonya Rawlins of Charlotte this year. 25 years after Bean set the “no male domination” policy.

The wider implication against scripture deals with the Fatherhood of God. God as father ordained the man in his place over the woman. Paul wrote that the woman was “created for the man” (1 Cor 11:8-10). Paul’s teaching (1 Tim 2:13) did not alter the creative order, but added the context of love. He instructed the man to love and respect the woman as Christ loved the church. Thus, the patriarchy is still (order-wise) in place.

2. Is not oppressive to women.
We agree that Jesus liberated and lifted the woman from her status as property and second class citizenship. But it was only a derivative of the true mission of Christ. His priority liberated all people from the bondage of sin. He did not liberate the woman (nor anyone else) through social programs, marches or protests. As a matter of record, Jesus resisted attempts to be a social justice savior i.e. liberating the Jews from Roman domination. He shed his blood as a ransom for sins. Therefore, every woman has freedom in Christ through his shed blood. We question what good it would be for a woman to have equality in society and remain a prisoner of sin? Elevating the temporal over the eternal minimizes the Cross of Christ and indeed his very purpose.

3. Is not sexually oppressive.
Let’s face it, the Bible is both sexually repressive and sexually liberating, but never oppressive. That’s the language of the “liberators” who want all forms of sexual expression validated and celebrated. On one hand, the scriptures tell us to control and repress any desires which would lead to sexual sin.
1 Thessalonian 4:2-4 “The Lord Jesus gave us the right and the power to tell you what to do. 3 God wants you to be holy. You must keep away from sex sins. 4 God wants each of you to use his body in the right way by keeping it holy and by respecting it.” (NLV) So whether one has homosexual or heterosexual or anything in between there is no allowance to act them out. Additionally, Jesus condemned even the desire to commit sexual sin!( Mt 5:28)
On the other hand, the Bible allows unrestrained sexual bliss, but only in the context of monogamous, opposite sex, covenant marriage. Hebrews 13:4 “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (21st CKJV)

4. God is greater than any religion, denomination or school of thought.
This is true, but stated as substantiation of liberation theology’s rejection of doctrinal authority. God is greater than all these, but God has also given us His written word and will which we are to adhere to. This is an antinominalist spin which allows the “liberators” to simply reject orthodoxy because of God’s alleged personal instruction to them. According to Christian theologian Dr J.I. Packer, antinominianalists elevate following the “spirit” or God above scripture, thereby creating an easy out from moral restrictions:
“What matters is not what the Scripture tells me. I am a spiritual person, filled with the Holy Spirit. I am above the law of the Scripture. I am led by the Spirit, and the Spirit overrules the Scripture. The Spirit can even contradict the Scripture. I am a spiritual Christian, and I am led by the Spirit. I do what the Spirit tells me, and I don’t worry about the Holy Scriptures.”

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11 thoughts on “Liberation theology or victimology?

  1. Overall, Pastor Foster, this is a good post. But I have to take issue with the following:

    “The wider implication against scripture deals with the Fatherhood of God. God as father ordained the man in his place over the woman. Paul wrote that the woman was ‘created for the man’ (1 Cor 11:8-10).”

    a. The ‘for’ in the passage 1 Corinthians 11:8 is the Greek word dia. Dia also can mean ‘because of’. Woman was created because of the man not the other way around as Paul demonstrates in this passage. Woman was made to fulfill God’s statement stated in point b.

    b. Genesis 2:18 says, “And the LORD God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”

    Many ‘biblical’ Christians today and yesteryear would call women “helpmeets” for men, meaning as women designed and called to assist men in their “headship”, conveying a woman’s sole purpose in life is the being a subordinate to her husband in everything he does or says…in the Lord.

    The Hebrew term ezer literally means a strength or power. God is known as our help (Psalm 46:1). “Help meet” means, “a strength/power face-to-face (corresponding to) man. Simply put, woman is a power equal to man. According to the Genesis narrative, we do not find the Man ruling Woman until Genesis 3:16. Both Man and Woman ruled together all creation before the Fall. Yes, Adam named the Woman Eve… after the Fall. He called her Woman “because she was taken from Man.” Ish/Ishah, man/woman in Hebrew. God called their name “Adam” because they were one flesh.

    c. 1 Corinthians 11:3, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” This is indeed a complex statement filled with rich metaphorical language. Unfortunately, many Christians have up a false divine chain-of-command: God-Christ-man-woman out of this passage. Consider the Greek word for head, kephale.

    The first connotation is the human head. Metaphorically it can mean “chief; first or foremost; preeminent.” Also it can mean the source from which a river springs. As John says in his Gospel, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Christ is the only begotten of the Father. The Father the Begetter of the Son. Both Father, Son, and Spirit as equal in being, power and authority. take on the full responsibility of redeeming humanity in their respective orders. I do not use word ‘roles’ because God’s being and what He does cannot be separated.
    Many in conservative evangelical circles are adopting a modified subordinationism in the Trinity to explain a ‘permanent’ subordination of woman to man in God ‘created order’.

    Kephale can understand in the context of Scripture as a metonymy. Christ being firstborn many brethren, the new creation. Christ as Head over all creation, for the church.

    Ephesians 5:22-23 is used to explain that the man as God designed is the “head of the household”. It is true in Greco-Roman culture, men were the heads of the household. In Israel patriarchy was the first system of governance. Remember Abram’s Mesopotamian background were patriarchal culture before the LORD called him out. Put Paul actually says that the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the Church: and he is the Saviour of the body. This head-body metaphor expresses the unity in which husbands and wives share as Christ and his Church share. Wives submitting themselves to their own husbands is within the context of Ephesians 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord.” In ancient manucripts verse 22 reads, “Wives, to your own husbands as unto the Lord.” In the background of Greco-Roman cultural norms and laws which pertained to their conduct and duty, Christian woman could act by their own will to defer to their husbands as a sign of respect knowing full well that they are joint-heirs of Christ alongside their husbands. Though Christian men of Ephesus had legal authority to do what they please to their wives, slaves, and children, Paul called them to a higher state of accountability and truth- the commandment to love their wives, nurture their children and treating their slaves as Paul commands in Ephesians 6.

    Humans as male and female do not have gender roles. We are gendered beings. One cannot play a wife or due wifely duties, A woman who is a wife is a wife in relation to her husband. This truly makes the beauty of the heterosexual union stand out. Differentiated to relate to the other in the unity of the Spirit in the church, marriage, family, home, and society. God Bless.

  2. Thanks Jason, I’m not sure I want to tangle with preponderance of Greek and Hebrew you’ve cited. :)) But I appreciate this. I wish it were another post so that we could explore it more fully.

    I will say that in the context of liberation theology, the rejection of the male’s place is indicative a broader rejection of God’s headship, thus his authority. If a doctrine minimizes the Fatherhood of God (Jesus didn’t) via a rejection of his earthly “image”, what else can replace it?

    My vignette using the male/female creative order was to show that it is not wrong to recognize the man’s headship. Equality is one thing, headship is another and I say that not to devalue the woman, but to define her relation to the man. As a married man with children, it is my place to lead my wife and children. It comes naturally. She is in a special place to support my leading, but not to be ruled by my leading.

    Additionally, to me order is not a foreign concept to the male/female creative intent. I think there is a great body of scripture to show that God is one who places a premium on order sans unreasonable control. I don’t see where he would suspend that order in his creation of man and woman.

    Also, I wouldn’t label the Christ-man-woman a militaristic ranking order, but it does show that man is not over Christ and at the same time equal with Christ. Christ did not claim equality with God, yet he was God in the flesh. Woman is not over the man, but being his “flesh and bone” is inherently equal to him.

    Most of all, Jason what you wrote is more clear evidence that homosexual relationships are hopelessly “out of order”.

  3. I appreciate the information but is there not other things to talk about. If people read there bibles they would know that all this is NOT a new thing but fulfillment of the scriptures. I have lived the homosexual lifestyle, served on the ministerial board of Unity Fellowship Church and have been out of the cult-like denomination for over 7 years. My life moved on and this type of stuff needs to move on. We have more people going to hell in a hand basket because they do not know that Jesus Christ has redeemed them then a little bit. Thats what some of you were…1 Cor 6:10 declares. Did not Jesus says just as the days of Sodom shall it be at the coming of the son of man? Just like it was accepted in the days of Sodom as homosexuality being the norm so shall it be in the world. The only thing we can do is preach the truth and tell people that deliverance is not to be awaited on it is to be obtained. Our churches are filled to the brim with men and women struggling with homosexual desires, they hear the same tired ole sermon your gonna die and burn in hell. How about we stop preaching to the flesh and start TEACHING the Word of God. How about preachers start declaring we are victorious people and not just getting by. Everyone is so strong on getting a 2 minute spot on TBN or The Word Network and forgetting there purpose. I’ve been silent for a few years but now its time to put things in PROSPECTIVE. Lets get our priorities in order and GO MAKE DISCIPLES OF THE NATIONS…did not God say in his word that he would give us the heathens? Did not God say go and tell them they do not have to go to hell? Why waste time on Yvette Flunders, Carlton Pearson and these others “gay leaders” and those who support them. Did we forget that Jesus not only Lord but Judge? I could care less about what these gay churches are preaching people would rather believe a lie than believe the truth…we are in the age of deception and reprobated minds are on the forefront of religion. All we need to do is snatch those out of the fire that are asking for help.

    Lets keep in mind people a prophet told me this very strong word “People are depending on you to depend on God to reach them”.

  4. Mr. Westmoreland, what “other” things did you want to talk about?

    Im not sure that your objectional rational plays out logically.

    If this is one of those things which is not new in scripture, then neither are any of the things you mentioned. That would mean that we should move on from everything in the Bible simply because you said
    its not new.

    Secondly, your comments are like going to someone’s house and telling them what type of dish detergent to use.

  5. Mr. Foster, the other things to talk about are the other things to think about. Lets not get intellectual lets get biblical, it seems rather obsessive for delivered people to talk about there past. You don’t leave Sodom to turn back, example Lot’s wife.

    So if making disciples and leading people to Christ is not a biblical objective, then I guess we all need to join Carlton Pearson on the money train to hell. If the comments hurt you emotional sorry but sometimes we need to see reality beyond our own reality. I’m not sure what bible you are reading Mr. Foster but just maybe the Book of Timothy is a harsh reality. I’m not going to debate right or wrong but lets consider saving souls instead of spreading information about reprobate people.

    By the way…Dawn detergent works well.

  6. We prefer to use Joy.

    So my only suggestion is if you dont like the kind of dish detergent we use, stay in your own house and wash your own dishes with Dawn.

  7. In response to Mr. Westmoreland’s comments, I have allways known I was gay. I was allways attracted to same gender- specific few through the years. Only to respond to a select few (date) and fell in love with one. We had a long-term relationship which ended prior to becoming 21 in age. Having been raised in a strong Christian principle home with heterosexual dogma spewed I allways felt oddly alone, except when I was in my ltr. It was us and God. Then I decided to get married to a woman to appease my family and the Church. It was a living hell! A never ending nightmare. Sir, for the love of God stop telling persons of the LGBTQ community to live a life of a lie! The bible that you love to qoute is a sacred book as many cultures have sacred books and symbols. It is filled with literary errors and corruption any english professor can see it has literay value but it is not without its errors. So, if being biblical rather than intellectual is the only way to save souls, I’d rather be in the company of the latter. My God is not ignorant…God is love and love is for everybody! (No I’m not a member of the UFC) I am a member of the largest black denomination in the USA. I am God’s gay-child inspite of heterosexual patriarchy and homophobia.

  8. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR PASTORE INVITES THIS KIND OF GROUP TO YOUR CHURCH? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE PASTOR ALLOWS THIS KIND OF GROUP TO HAVE A SERVICE IN YOUR CHURCH? WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU CONFRONT HIM AND HE DOES NOTHING?

  9. why am I not surpised? no where in the bible does it support homosexuality, so there is no argument. Jesus is coming again, people get ready, the only thing we can do is pray that the lord may save those whom he will save. Those who choose to believe a lie, God says that he will send them a ‘strong dellusion’ that they can no longer believe the truth. All i know is a church that is filled of the holyghost will root out those with homosexual tendiecies just like those who like pornography. God can deliver them, its either they get delivered or they stay bound.

  10. Lord have mercy! We just have to pray and continue to pray that God gets the glory out of it all! I’m speechless about what some have said. I think we should consider praying to God for a better understanding of His Word. If any man seek wisdom, ask Him. I’m just speechless.

    Passage 1 Corinthians 6:9:

    9Or (A)do you not know that the unrighteous will not (B)inherit the kingdom of God? (C)Do not be deceived; (D)neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [a]effeminate, nor homosexuals,

    Passage 1 Timothy 1 :

    9realizing the fact that (Z)law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and (AA)rebellious, for the (AB)ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and (AC)profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers

    10and (AD)immoral men and (AE)homosexuals and (AF)kidnappers and (AG)liars and (AH)perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to (AI)sound teaching,

    I think that we all should consider the above scriptures as well as what I’m about to paste below. God sees all sin as sin. Man measures sin but every sin in the eyes of God as just as worse as the other. But in our judging we need to make sure that our lives a in line with God’s Word. We must pray for those who are lost and unsaved. God can do more with them than I can.

    Homosexuality, adultery, fornication, murderers, stealing, killing was NOT acceptable then, not acceptable NOW and won’t be in the future! How long do we have to get it right? We don’t know. Knowing something is wrong and continue to do it as well as trying to get the Word to approve our sin is CRAZY! But llike one of the people said eariler, God’s Word is being fulfilled, so I’m not surprised about anything anymore. There is truly nothing new under the sun!

    Be blessed my brother and my sister. Don’t get comfortable in your sin. Heaven and Hell are real……your destination is waiting on your arrival…..so where will you be?

    Lady

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