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CHAPTER VIII
BASIC
biblical theology of liberation

There appears to be a lot of confusion in the relation between redemption, liberation and their biblical roots.  As such I am giving a basic description of their relation just to show how they are intrinsically based on the scripture and the purpose of incarnation as a whole.

Old Testament

The book of Genesis is the story of how the whole system of exploitation of one man by another started which form the basic original sin. It started with one brother killing the other and how the civilization and human development became a power struggle. The problem was how to eradicate the DNA transmission of the preponderance of selfishness over lover of the mankind and the whole life forms. The ability to balance these two tendencies is a delicate processs which is controlled by the freedom of the will of each person. 

These are called in Jewish terminology -

Yetser ha Ra (Selfish tendencies) and Yetser ha Tov (Unselfish sacrificial tendencies for the total good)

I had elsewhere proposed the model of God as though he is a Purusha - a person whose body is the creation itself.  The whole person can be in harmony and in good health only if every individual organ performs at it best without interfering with the other organs. It is a question of synchronising. Self fulfilment which requires Ra affirmation, while the prosperity of society as a whole (the whole cosmos) requires Tov. 

YHVH even tried to give mankind a new beginning once through the flood leaving one family of Noah,  to start over.  It all ended up again in one enslaving the other.

 




When Israel was in Egypt land,
Let my people go,
Oppressed so hard they could not stand,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land,
Tell old Pharaoh
To let my people go.

"Thus spoke the Lord" bold Moses said,
Let my people go,
"If not, I'll smite your first-born dead"
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land,
Tell old Pharaoh
To let my people go.

"Your foes shall not before you stand,
Let my people go,
And you'll possess fair Canaan's land,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land,
Tell old Pharaoh
To let my people go."

"You'll not get lost in the wilderness,
Let my people go,
With a lighted candle in your breast,
Let my people go.
Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land,
Tell old Pharaoh
To let my people go."

Alan Lomax, The Penguin Book of American Folk Songs, Penguin, 1964
http://www.joe-offer.com/folkinfo/forum/1076.html
This famous freedom spiritual of the Negro slaves is intimately connected with the underground railroad which led the slaves into freedom of the Canada.  Some think that the Moses here refer to Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave, who returned time after time into the South to lead bands of her people to freedom over the underground railroad.


Harriet Tubman

Sarah H. Bradford had written a book on Tubman, which is also in the Ducumenting the South collection: Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman (Auburn, N. Y.: W. J. Moses, Printer, 1869). pp. 26-27. suggests another variation of the song which is the right way Harriet sang them to give warning and safety:

"De first time I go by singing dis hymn, dey don't come out to me," she said,
"till I listen if de coast is clar;
den when I go back and sing it again, dey come out.


But if I sing:

“Moses go down in Egypt,
Till ole Pharo' let me go;
Hadn't been for Adam's fall,
Shouldn't hab to died at all,

den dey don't come out, for dere's danger in de way."


And so by night travel, by hiding, by signals, by threatening, she brought the people safely to the land of liberty.

But after the passage of the Fugitive Slave law, she said, "I wouldn't trust Uncle Sam wid my people no longer; I brought 'em all clar off to Canada."

As a tireless Underground Railroad conductor, Harriet Tubman made scores of journeys into "Egypt's land," returning to the North after each trip with a band of runaway slaves, and amassing a record of never having lost a soul.

If you notice, the song contains the the theology of liberation.
This exodus motive was always the foundation of the liberation theology.

.“The God of Exodus is the God of history and of political liberation more than he is the God of nature.”Gustavo Gutiérrez

In exodus God clearly expresses that He is there for liberation from slavery.

Isra-el experimented with a free socialistic communistic society which was known as the judges period under the Laws of YHVH imposed by the charismatic leaders of the society. At the end of the period of Prophet Samuel, Israel opted for a King.  
“And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them’” (1 Samuel 8:7).

So let them have their own way. But warn them of what they’re in for. Tell them the way kings operate, just what they’re likely to get from a king.

10-18 So Samuel told them, delivered God’s warning to the people who were asking him to give them a king. He said, “This is the way the kind of king you’re talking about operates. He’ll take your sons and make soldiers of them—chariotry, cavalry, infantry, regimented in battalions and squadrons. He’ll put some to forced labor on his farms, plowing and harvesting, and others to making either weapons of war or chariots in which he can ride in luxury. He’ll put your daughters to work as beauticians and waitresses and cooks. He’ll conscript your best fields, vineyards, and orchards and hand them over to his special friends. He’ll tax your harvests and vintage to support his extensive bureaucracy. Your prize workers and best animals he’ll take for his own use. He’ll lay a tax on your flocks and you’ll end up no better than slaves. The day will come when you will cry in desperation because of this king you so much want for yourselves. But don’t expect God to answer.”

Whatever the period of Judges can be called, It did not survive and Israel became a kingdom  like all other nations of the world - but still supposed to be under the rule of the law as given in mount Zion which form the basics of human societies even today.

The law required that everyone be freed from debt and slavery at the Year of Jubilee, to start over - A new beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And you shall count seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years.

Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year,

and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants.

It shall be a Jubilee for you;

and each of you shall return to his possession,

and each of you shall return to his family.

That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you;

in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. For it is the Jubilee;

it shall be holy to you;

you shall eat its produce from the field. Lev 25:8-12

In the Jubilee, there is:

REST for the land,

RESTORATION of lost state,

RELEASE from captivity and prison,

REMISSION,

REFRESHING,

RECONCILIATION

RETURN and

REUNION.

Sins are forgiven and every one in the community is given another start.

This is exactly what the every human wants today.

This is just a foretaste of the ultimate redemption of the cosmos as a whole

NO JUDGEMENT.

Behold “I make all things NEW”

Just as there were cities of refuge for those who inadvertedly killed someone, there was a much wider refuge for those servants who ran away from their masters for whatever reason:

 

Deut. 23: 15, 16,
"Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant who has escaped from his master unto thee.
He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best, thou shalt not oppress him."

 

A runaway slave can get refuge anywhere within the Israelite territory without asking them for an explanation. His protection is guaranteed. No questions asked.

 

New Testament.

Begins with the manifesto of Jesus

Luke 4:17-21:

 

“And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written,

 

 

 

 

 

And He closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And He began to say unto them, ‘This day is this scripture is fulfilled in your ears.’”

Did Jesus spoke against slavery.  You bet.  Can you explain this manifesto in any other way.  But he also realized that there is choice to be made by each human and each person should transform himself to be free from the bondage of the original sin. This is possible only through Jesus.  Jesus provided a way to this redemption through his body.

<< 

Jubilee implied++>         divine sanction of equal shares in the means of production 
and divine prohibition of private accumulation,

The prophets provided++>   examples of denunciations of injustice.

New Testament furnishes++> strictures against the rich and the money changers.

Christs message was ++>    that instead of the love of self that is implied by accumulation of wealth, people should love one another and share all their wealth with the needy.

These led to the claim that ++> Jesus indeed was the first Socialist and Communist.

"Socialism, Christian." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com.  https://www.encyclopedia.com.>>

Thus the first form the body of Christ was a form of community where the principles of Christian Communism was the foundation.

Christian communism is a form of communism based on Christ. It is a theological and political theory based upon the view that the fact that the ideal society is to be founded on “love one another, as I have loved you.” - each giving themselves fully in ones brothers even to the extent of dying. If Christ did not teach that would the Apostles start such a community as soon as the body of Christ was formed? Evidently the teachings of Jesus Christ compel Christians to support communism as the ideal social system.

 

Acts 4:32–35 clearly indicates hat the first Christians lived in a communist society.  

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And Gods grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need".

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship [communism, koinonia from which we have the world Communion and Holy Communion that is still acted out as just a symbol - in remembrance], and in breaking of bread, and in prayers ... And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need” “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common ... Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet, and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need” (4, verse 32f.).

 

It is this communistic living that fell apart.  The living together as one family with everything in common was reduced to eating together.  In time the rich began to impose on the poor and the church began to reduce the eating together to symbolic eating together by eating a tiny round wafer and a little red juice. This evidently is the symbol which indicates we are one in Christ if your mind can interpret it that way.

 

Yet they remind us of the ultimate Kingdom of God community which is the real body of Christ.

“When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else.
One remains hungry, another gets drunk.
Don't you have homes to eat and drink in?
Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?
What shall I say to you?
Shall I praise you for this?
Certainly not! “ (1 Cor 11. 20-22, NIV).

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." (I Timothy 6:17-19, NIV)

We are given the true reason for the failure of these Christian Communes. One couple -
Ananias and Saphira, The ingrained sin of selfishness.

Gustavo Gutiérrez Merino  in "A Spirituality of Liberation" states: 
"conversion to God implies conversion to neighbor in an act of gratuitousness which allows one to encounter others fully, the universal encounter which is the foundation of communion of men among themselves and of men with God" producing a joy and celebration which is "the feast of the Christian Community." (p. 207)

According to John the twelve apostles had a common purse even in Jesus’ lifetime. But Jesus requires that every other disciple as well contribute all his property. The Christian Communes after the ascension was simply the continuation of the community of disciples which Jesus started.  The Acts of the Apostles nowhere states that the apostles first organized the community after the death of Jesus. Acts of the Apostles clearly states that : “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (2, verse 42).

There is evidence that what is described in Acts 4:32–35 is historical and was practiced widely and taken seriously during at least the first two centuries of Christianity.  Even as late as 50 years ago, Christian Ashrams were found everywhere in South India. I had spent a lot of my vacation in several such Ashrams and was asked to lead seminars of these principles on which the very foundation of Kingdom of God stands. They lasted only for the generation of the founder. When the Puritans emigrated to North America they experimented with Christian Communes based on the Principles given in the Bible.  Most of them failed due to lack of incentive to work.

St.Ambrose, wrote, “Nature has poured forth all things for all men for common use… Nature has therefore produced a common right for all, but greed has made it a right for a few.”

Economist Murray N. Rothbard noted, “For centuries the alleged ideal of communism had come to the world as a messianic and millennial creed. Various seers, notably Joachim of Fiore, had prophesied the final state of mankind as one of perfect harmony and equality, one where all things are owned in common, where there is no necessity for work or need for the division of labor.”

Thomas Aquinas, the father of the modern Catholic Church, taught that someone in great need to can take what he or she needs from others. In his assessment of Aquinas’ concept of justice, Alasdair MacIntyre writes, “The condemnation of theft presupposes the legitimacy of private property. Aquinas, however, inherited from the patristic tradition a view of the limitation of the right to property… Ownership is limited by the necessities of human need.”

Sir Thomas More, whom the Catholic Church later made a saint, was the author of “Utopia,” who presented the total communistic Kingdom of God as the Utopia. Diggers and the Ranters in seventeenth-century England were the original Christian Socialist movement.

“Slave Bible”

In Washington DC’s Museum of the Bible, a copy of the so-called “Slave Bible” sits on display.

https://theurbannews.com/national-news/2018/slave-bible-on-display/

Washington, DC – On display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., is one of only three known copies of the abridged version named as the ‘Slave Bible.’

The bible was printed by the Missionary Society For the Conversion of Negro Slaves, a group of missionaries that was formed in 1794. It was originally published in London in 1807 on behalf of the Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of enslaved Africans toiling in Britain’s lucrative Caribbean colonies. The society’s original intent was to convert Native Americans to Christ,but later they began to focus on enslaved Africans  Their aim was to convert the slaves brought into the Americas to Christianity.  The bible was a censored version which removed 90 percent of the Old Testament and 50 percent of the New Testament, which contained anti-slavery assertions.  Its publishers deliberately removed portions of the biblical text, such as the exodus story, that could inspire hope for liberation. Instead, the publishers emphasized portions that justified and fortified the system of slavery that was so vital to the British Empire.

 

 “It starts off with the creation story…then it jumps to Joseph getting sold into slavery by his brothers and how that ends up being a good thing for him,” Schmidt told CBN News. “They’re highlighting themes of being submissive, the same thing goes on with the New Testament as well,” he said. “The whole book of Revelation is left out, so there is no new Kingdom, no new world, nothing to look forward to,” Schmidt explained.