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World Cup of Theologians: Argentina – Adolfo Esquivel

The World Cup of Theologians is a blog series that coincides with the 2014 World Cup Tournament. Each team in the round of 16 has an entry with the biography of a noteworthy theologian or leader from that same country.

esquivelAdolfo Pérez Esquivel (1931- )was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. An architect and sculptor by trade, he taught art and architecture for 25 years at various levels. In 1974, in the early days of Argentina’s Dirty War, Pérez Esquivel left his teaching post to lead a movement of human rights activists throughout South America who shared a commitment to nonviolence. A deeply committed Christian, his book is marvelously titled Christ in a Poncho: Witnesses to the Nonviolent Struggles in Latin America.

When awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his work on behalf of human rights, he concluded his acceptance speech by quoting the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. Here’s how the speech began:

With humility I stand before you to receive the high distinction that the Nobel Committee and the Parliament grant to those who have committed their lives on behalf of peace and to the pursuit of justice and solidarity among nations.

I would like to receive this award in the name of the people of Latin America and especially in the name of the poorest and smallest of my brothers and sisters, who are the most beloved children of God. I receive it in the name of my indigenous brothers and sisters, the peasants, workers, and young people, in the name of the thousands of members of religious orders and of men and women of goodwill, who renounce privileges to share the life and way of the poor, and who struggle to build a new society.

For a man like myself, a small voice for those who have no voice, who struggles so that the cry of the people may be heard in all its power, for one without any special identity except as a veritable Latin American man and as a Christian, – this is, without any doubt, the highest honour that I can receive: to be considered a servant of peace.

You can read the full English text of the acceptance speech here or watch it in Spanish here.

Tim Hoiland blogs at timhoiland.com and tweets at @timhoiland. He found “Christ in a Poncho” at a used bookstore in Philadelphia several years ago, and judged the book (positively) by its cover.

World Cup of Theologians: Costa Rica – Sandra Campos

The World Cup of Theologians is a blog series that coincides with the 2014 World Cup Tournament. Each team in the round of 16 has an entry with the biography of a noteworthy theologian or leader from that same country.

Sandra Campos is a the president of the Conference of Mennonite Churches in Costa Rica and has been appointed as a Latin American representative to the Mennonite World Conference Executive Committee. As a leader, her influence has been seen in her ability to gather and encourage women from around the world to participate in the expanding ministries of the church. She has been at the center of the Mennonite World Conference’s recognition of women in the church and the development of theological networks (Link to article).

In a 2011 article in The Mennonite, Campos is recognized alongside other leading women from around the world.

As I serve in my various roles, I am given the opportunity to propose and implement changes in the national church through education programs, such as the Bible Institute for Justice and Peace Program. At the regional level, I am helping advance Anabaptist Women Theologians of Central America. This is helping build a greater awareness of our need to train women for greater participation in places that traditionally were shaped exclusively by men.

As women, we feel useful in our service to others and do not settle for being a spectator. We try to be part of work, changes and achievements that are part of building God’s kingdom.

Click here for full article

Michael Shepherd is the editor of GlobalTheology.org. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and Hope International University in southern California, USA, where he lives with his wife and son.

World Cup of Theologians: Uruguay – Juan Luis Segundo

The World Cup of Theologians is a blog series that coincides with the 2014 World Cup Tournament. Each team in the round of 16 has an entry with the biography of a noteworthy theologian or leader from that same country.

Juan Luis Segundo (1925-1996) was a Jesuit priest and scholar who was instrumental with the introduction of liberation theology in Latin America and the application of the hermeneutic circle. His initial work, Liberation of Theology, raises issues of the Latin American context and its perspective, although he does so within the style of traditional Western theologians. segundo

In many Western contexts, the term “ideology” has a negative connotation, which bleeds into the consideration of liberation theology, to which Segundo defines the relationship of ideology and faith, writing in Liberation of Theology,

“a system of goals and means that serve as a necessary backdrop for any human option or line of action”, yet “Faith…is the total process to which [the human being] submits, a process of learning in and through ideologies how to create the ideologies necessary to handle new and unforeseen situations in history.” As such, ideologies are derived from the particular context of a community and contribute to faith. But at no point can ideology supersede the role of faith, which encompasses a diverse range of idealized theories of life.

His writing on hermeneutics emphasized the role of the community in interpretation, rather than assuming that an individual is the driver of the interpretive process. This stood as a critique and addition to Schleiermacher’s conception of the hermeneutic circle which would become a standard interpretive principle within liberation theology.

For more information about Segundo’s writing, see the entry in the Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology.

Michael Shepherd is the editor of GlobalTheology.org. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and Hope International University in southern California, USA, where he lives with his wife and son.

World Cup of Theologians: Chile – Sergio Torres

The World Cup of Theologians is a blog series that coincides with the 2014 World Cup Tournament. Each team in the round of 16 has an entry with the biography of a noteworthy theologian or leader from that same country.

TorresSergio Torres is a Chilean Catholic priest whose leadership and writing has focused on how the Liberation Theology of Latin America can separate itself from the ideologies of Eastern Europe and its Marxist materialist underpinnings and adapt to new contexts. In an interview with Instituto Humanitas Unisinos, he covers a broad range of liberation theology history, including the role of Amerindia in forging a new path for the church of the American continent.

IHU On-line: In 2012, we are also celebrating the 40th anniversary of the publication Gustavo Gutiérrez’s book. Since that inaugural work, what were and are the main contributions of liberation theology in the context of Latin America? What is the meaning of liberation today?

Sergio Torres: The rise of liberation theology represented an important moment in the history of theology in general. Before it, it was thought that there was only one universal theology, along the lines of St. Paul’s expression, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Without in any way denying this fundamental principle, liberation theology opened the contextual perspective. We believe in one Lord, but we do so from our contexts and our own different situations and cultures. The context allows one to delve into some aspects of the single message and make it more credible to people of different cultures. Born in Latin America, liberation theology has spread to Africa and Asia and has also generated experiments in contextual theology in North America and Europe.

The concept of liberation expanded and became richer. At first, they talked about the liberation of the poor, understood as the workers in the industries and factories of the great cities of the continent. Subsequently, the concept of the poor also deepened. The poor are the excluded ones, the marginalized, those who have no voice, are discriminated against, or, as we say today, “the other”. Currently, the concept of liberation expresses the salvation and liberation that Jesus brings, including many terms that refer to the salvation of neglected and oppressed sectors in the current cultural and social situation.

Today, there is not just one liberation theology. There is an open theological pluralism, one that is truer to some of the intuitions and basic principles of the first liberation theology. That theology still has much to give in and of itself. For example, it should continue joining the individual and complementary contributions of academic theologians and grassroots theologians. Moreover, professionals are called on not only to speak ‘for’ the poor but, from [the perspective of] the poor and with them.

Read the full interview – in Englishem portuguêsen español

Michael Shepherd is the editor of GlobalTheology.org. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and Hope International University in southern California, USA, where he lives with his wife and son.

World Cup of Theologians: Mexico – Samuel Ruiz

The World Cup of Theologians is a blog series that coincides with the 2014 World Cup Tournament. Each team in the round of 16 has an entry with the biography of a noteworthy theologian or leader from that same country.

Samuel Ruiz (1924-2011) was a Roman Catholic priest and bishop serving among the indigenous Maya peoples in San Cristóbal de las Casas in the Mexican state of Chiapas. He was an advocate for the rights of the marginalized peoples which led him into conflict, both within and outside the Catholic Church.

ruizEven though he was raised with a traditional and conservative view of the Church, he was heavily influenced by Vatican II’s desire to integrate the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church with the culture and perspective of the local parish. This emphasis would mark his ministry and the Catholic faith that spread throughout the region.

To bring the Catholic faith to the Mayan people, he learned the dialects that were spoken widely and ordained Mayans into the diaconate and priesthood to further serve their communities. As he witnessed the injustices these people suffered, Ruiz championed the human rights of the indigenous people, calling for political reforms which led him into conflict with the leadership of the Church.

…we need to realize that we have a role to play in overcoming our own discrimination which is sometime very subtly held but that we do need to overcome it and see our indigenous peoples as brothers and sisters, not because we are legally mandated to do so, but because we genuinely see them as our brothers and sisters in our struggle for a better world.

For more information about the Mayan-led church in the Chiapas region and recent easing of anti-liberation policies, read more here.

For a coloring activity for children about Father Ruiz, click here (via doonething.org)

Michael Shepherd is the editor of GlobalTheology.org. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and Hope International University in southern California, USA, where he lives with his wife and son.

 

 

World Cup of Theologians: Brazil – Paulo Freire

The World Cup of Theologians is a blog series that coincides with the 2014 World Cup Tournament. Each team in the round of 16 has an entry with the biography of a noteworthy theologian or leader from that same country.

Like many contributors outside of the West, Paulo Freire (1921-1997) entered the theological conversation through alternative means. His original research was in education- specifically, how to teach adults who were illiterate and without a basis for traditional, institutional education.

Painel Paulo Freire by Luiz Carlos Cappellano via Wikimedia Commons

Painel Paulo Freire by Luiz Carlos Cappellano via Wikimedia Commons

In this context, he became critical of the “banking” philosophy of education, in which the learner was an empty vessel to have knowledge “deposited” by an expert and then “withdrawn” by the student to apply to a given situation. Chief among his criticism is that this approach reduced the person to the value of their deposits from an outside institution and did not take into account their contextual education—traditional knowledge and experience – that did not fit the categories of formal academics. His primary work on this topic was Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968).

“One cannot expect positive results from an educational or political action program which fails to respect the particular view of the world held by the people. Such a program constitutes cultural invasion, good intentions notwithstanding.”

The application of these theories to theology have been revolutionary. In contrast to the formal topics of theology proper (which is largely insulated by the power and privilege of Western institutions), Freire’s theories opened up the study of the Bible and theological reflection to communities long considered outside the scope of meaningful contribution. The value of community-based knowledge to theological reflection gave voice to disenfranchised groups whose experience with the sacred speaks into a void in the academic setting.

Michael Shepherd is the editor of GlobalTheology.org. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and Hope International University in southern California, USA, where he lives with his wife and son.

World Cup of Theologians: Colombia – Consuelo Vélez

The World Cup of Theologians is a blog series that coincides with the 2014 World Cup Tournament. Each team in the round of 16 has an entry with the biography of a noteworthy theologian or leader from that same country.

Consuelo Vélez is professor of Theology at the Pontificia Universidad Xaveriana in Bogota, Colombia. She has earned a PhD in Theology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with post-doctoral studies at Boston College.velez

She writes about the issues facing women in the Roman Catholic Church and what Pope Francis is doing to bring awareness to this issue. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Biblioteca Amerindia, translated to English by Barefoot Voices.

In [theological] topics, the feminine face of God –so often forgotten — and God’s saving message for men and women concretely and according to their specific reality, are reclaimed. For example, it’s not the same to speak of gift and sacrifice to women as to men. In a patriarchal society such as the one that still persists, that argument has led some women to the “servitude” that Pope Francis is criticizing, denying their dignity and suffering the tragedy of domestic violence, among others. Women’s theology works to regain the dignity of women so often denied by patriarchal society and supported in some ways by a “distorted” religious view, and it substantiates that this is not God’s will but that, on the contrary, God’s plan of salvation proposes a “community of equals” where gender differences would not be the reason for the subordination of either of the genders to the other one.

It has always been said that change comes from the grassroots. But in this case it seems that the roots of the Church are very passive and that it’s the will of a leader — the Pope — that is raising awareness and making us see that things could be different. In any case, change will come from working together and that’s why we have to be responsible in the face of these challenges and ask ourselves sincerely: What is the effective participation of women in decision-making positions in our local communities? How much credibility are they granted? Are the theological works of women taught in the seminaries and schools of theology? Is there enough humility to acknowledge the difference between what ought to be and the reality of women in the Church? Will we review our praxis and correct the mistakes?

This is a task we have pending in this Church we love and that needs to be renewed according to the will of God, in this specific case, seeking to make effective that in Christ Jesus “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free person, there is not male and female.”(Gal 3: 28)

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