IS 301 Theology of Mission
Gods Mission and the Oppressed
The Mission of God is rooted in His sending Triune nature. God the Father sent the Son to reconcile humanity through his life, death and resurrection and in return the Son sends the Spirit to create and lead the church as His presence to continue His ministry of reconciling humanity to itself and to the Father. In this paper I will look at what the church’s response has been towards the oppressed and argue that the church as Gods presence is to share in the suffering of the oppressed.
I have chosen to use the word “oppressed” to refer to those who live in poverty and suffering because “suffering is the result of different kinds of oppression inflicted upon people. Poverty, racism, classism, imperialism, hierarchical structures, sexism, physical abuse, institutional violence, domestic violence, exploitation, are all kinds of oppression. Being poor, i.e., living in inadequate conditions, lacking resources to meet basic human needs, and the resulting suffering, is the outcome of those kinds of oppression” (Feliciano 151).
Oppression or poverty is not merely the lack or deprivation of economic resources but it is the deprivation of freedom, the freedom to receive an education, the freedom to receive health care, the freedom of speaking up and acting to change circumstances and laws. Essentially poverty is the deprivation of the capability to function effectively in society. The oppressed have been regarded as in-significant in society; they have been culturally marginalized and racially despised. They are considered insignificant and deprived of full human rights based on the color of their skin, their citizenship in the land they find themselves in, their education, class, caste, age, and sex. The poor and oppressed are systematically kept dependent on the dominant wealthier section of society for their basic physical needs through political and economic policies in order to keep the rich or elite on top. These policies are put into place through weak institutions that control the political power and have the influence to impose laws and regulations that benefit their own interest. These weak institutions also control the access to resources and the unequal distribution of them for labor. “Weak institutions let the poor in a disadvantaged situation from not obtaining protection from the judicial system. On the other hand, the rich have a much stronger political influence, which allows them to subvert the institutions in their favor” (Tebaldi and Mohan 3) This can also be said of governments and nations as can be seen in the European imperialist domination of the sixteenth and seventeenth century and the colonization thereafter.
The role the church played in this marginalization and oppression of people groups has been as a defender but also as an oppressor. It has been well documented through history the role the church played in the European conquest of the Americas and their inhabitants. Professor Emilio A. Nunez from Talbot School of Theology states “the Catholic church was part of the Iberian project and gave its backing, directly or indirectly, to the social system imported from the peninsula, a semi-feudal system in which the American Indians became dispossessed of their lands and subjected by force to the service of their conquerors” (Nunez 20). I must also make mention of the often forgotten colonization of the Native Americans in North America by English Protestants. Too often the founding of the United States is looked upon as a great act of God to create a nation above all nations who can do no wrong; “to use the theological language of the nation's early English settlers, was called by God to be a light to the nations, "a city on the hill," a nation chosen to be divinely blessed so it could be a blessing to other nations. This self-understanding is called "exceptionalism,"” (Machado 2). “Exceptionalism” is the belief that a…