Liberal Christianity and Category Error

One of the things that puzzled me about my mother as a child was her regard for poor people, especially Mexicans. Poor people were always to be regarded as special and any bad conduct on their part excused as the result of oppression by the rich. Things that would have been totally unacceptable by middle-class people- even pretty marginal lower middle-class people like ourselves- pride, arrogance, insolence, aggressiveness, violence, fornication- were not to be criticized in the poor.

The poor I saw were not the meek, sweet sufferers of Matthew but pretty nasty people you didn’t want to be around, especially if you were a small, weak child like myself. This Christianity stuff seemed not only pretty stupid, completely out of touch with reality, but self-destructive to its practitioners- unless they were hypocrites who never actually had to deal with the nasty behavior of poor people, such as my mother. I had to go to school with these people, and my mother was convinced any problems I had were because I wasn’t nice enough. She never met these kids though.

My mother’s ideas were not unique to her, she was just part of the social justice thinking of 1960’s liberalism. But were did these ideas come from?

I have talked about the pro-communist terrorist sympathies of Jesuit Ignacio Ellacuria in my politics blog. I was reading a little more about him, and I think I see the source of his error and that of liberation theology.

Ellacuria regarded the poor, or oppressed, as the “crucified people”, which is to say that the poor are Jesus in suffering. This idea comes from the church as being the body of Christ. In whatever sense this may be, it is not true in the sense of Jesus as crucified, as the sinless sacrifice for all sin.

There is a Catholic idea that human suffering is part of the redemptive process of humanity. First of all, only the suffering of the sinless Christ can act as atonement for sin. All humans, unlike Jesus, have sin and so are not acceptable sacrifices. Human suffering can and sometimes should produce sympathy in us, but human suffering is the result of sin- either experienced by the sinner as the result of his sin, or by the people he has sinned against- and so cannot atone for sin. The suffering of Jesus was a completely free choice of his own and not involuntary or compelled in any way.

Humans are not Jesus. To set aside any human, or group of humans as being Jesus is to confuse the very important distinction between the two.

Navin Johnson learned the difference between shit and Shinola. Ignacio Ellacuria never did.

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