“I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” 1 Corinthians 2.3
I’ve been reading and writing a lot about liberation theology. Soon, I’m beginning to discover that what I’ve been told by many evangelicals about liberation theology (i.e. overly realized eschatology, liberal etc.) is simply wrong. I’ve read all the books and knew all the names, but it never hit me quite so hard until I place myself in the situation of Hong Kong Umbrella Movement. Being back in Hong Kong also helps.
Many who look at liberation theology or any other theology that is different from their own, the quick knee-jerk reaction is that relativism has finally conquered the Christian world. Alarm bells go off. Is this true though?
I suggest otherwise. I suggest that we take another look at the way we approach truth. The insistence on a singular truth is a rhetorical move of the powerful. It hasn’t always been the case in the Bible, but in modern times, it’s quite the popular move. The sooner we learn this, the better off we are. The sooner we get over ourselves, the better we can work together, both the powerful and the powerless. Yet, in the real world, power corrupts. It’s hard to give it up because we’ve worked so hard to earn it. We’ve worked so hard by speaking and writing about our point of view. It’s hard to be told that there’re other equally valid and valuable points of view.
As I read, I discover that the charge of “relativism” is a straw man and a scapegoat for those who are afraid of losing their version or narrative of “truth.” The louder the people from the margin cry out, the harder the resistance from the powerful to change. What many evangelicals perceive as relativism is nothing more than resistance from the margin. What average evangelicals do not realize is that most of the New Testament was written from the margin. When we neglect this marginality either deliberately or inadvertently, we completely skew our view of God and His work.
Relativism practiced by those in the margin merely challenges the status quo to open up the system just a bit to accommodate different points of view. The next generation, especially those in the trenches of oppression and liberation, is asking for an open system instead of a closed system, a healthy pluralism instead of blind singularity. Avoidance of the real issue is not the answer. Denouncement and pontification are certainly not the answer. The real TRUTH is out there. Little “truth” may be discovered among us in community, from both ends of the power spectrum but especially from the margin. If that little “truth” is to be discovered, dialogue needs to open up, but it’s hard to give up power. Sometimes the blind spots are not killing us; sometimes our love for power murders our conscience. We’ll be doing the very opposite as Paul’s mission.
When our conscience dies a painful death, so will our faith and mission.