Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Quote: The Oppressor, the Oppressed, and Christianity

Luke's liberation language is explicitly economic and political. The mighty are put down from the thrones; the rich are sent away empty. This theme grates unpleasantly on the ears of most affluent Christians. Since many North American Christians regard themselves as near, if not exactly on, the thrones of the mighty and as moderately 'filled with good things,' they are offended by the idea of salvation as God's judgmental choice. They prefer to jump immediately to the idea that God loves the rich and the poor alike. This assumes that God loves the rich and the poor, oppressors and oppressed, in the same way, accepting them 'as they are.' The unstated bias is that God also leaves them the way they are, as oppressed and oppressors, poor and rich; salvation has nothing to do with changing this relationship. Such thinking does not entertain the possibility that God's redemptive love might be experienced differently by poor and rich, oppressed and oppressors, battered women and macho men.

In contrast to this separation of salvation from real social transformation, Luke suggests that God's redemption is experienced differently by rich and poor. The poor and oppressed experience themselves being restored to their humanity, entering a new age in which the rod of oppression is broken. Those who are privileged in the present age initially experience God's liberation as wrath, as the breaking of their systems of privilege and the shattering of their ideologies of righteousness. Only after they accept the judgment of God on their state of unjust privilege is it possible for them to join the liberated poor in the new age of God's peace and justice.

-- Rosemary Radford Ruether

No comments: