The Paradoxes of Progressive Political Theology: On Liberals and Liberationists

Last week I posted about what I called "the paradox of progressive political theology."

In that post I argued that many progressive Christians like to use Anabaptist theology to level critiques of the state while simultaneously advocating political engagement in democratic politics. Rhetorically, I said, progressives often talk like Anabaptists but act like Niebuhrians.

(Reinhold Niebuhr argued that it was a duty of Christians to participate in liberal democracies to bring about justice and protect the weak.)

Some readers of my post objected that the political dichotomy I used between Anabaptist and Niebuhrian political theologies wasn't very comprehensive. For example, many progressive Christians embrace liberationist political theologies.

That's true, but progressives using liberation theology exhibit the same paradoxes. 

First off, liberation theology is a paradox in itself. The paradox of liberation theology is that you use it to denounce empire, with the political end of revolution being to take over the empire. Historically, we've observed how revolutions "from below" have played out in Russia, Cuba and China, one empire replacing another. Plus, theologically it's hard to turn Jesus into Che Guevara.

But in regards to progressive Christians espousing liberation theology, there's the same disjoint I noted in my post last week: the disjoint between rhetoric and practice in regards to the state.

Specifically, another paradox of progressive political theology is rhetorically using liberationist anti-empire theology, while practically encouraging everyone to call congress and vote. Revolution through democratic participation!

In short, there is something paradoxical about liberal Democrats using liberation theology.

An example of this paradox from the last election was watching progressive Christians using liberation theology to defend voting for Hilary Clinton, she of Goldman Sachs fame.

To be clear, I voted for Hilary. But Good Lord, the Clinton's were not the revolution we've be waiting for. And if you didn't notice, neither was Barack Obama. And I voted for him twice.

Liberalism isn't liberation theology.

So again, the same paradox I noted last week:

Denouncing Caesar while embracing Caesar.

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