354: RED CHRISTIAN DOCUMENTS #34: DEAD HAND OF THE CHURCH (ROSEMARY RADFORD RUETHER, US, 1981)

“A very warm welcome to Zingcreed which wishes there were more texts by women theologians etc to quote from in this series I call ‘Red Christian documents’. (Perhaps I should have called it ‘An anthology of radical Christian writings’?)
According to Wikipedia, Rosemary Radford Ruether has come a long way since she wrote this piece nearly 50 years ago. She’s a leading R.C. eco-feminist and seems to be getting up the nose of her Church hierarchy. Good! I’ll return to her on another occasion. She has a daring point to make here, and the ‘red anthology’ would not be complete without it. I hope you get something from these all-too-brief extracts.”
Peter Turner, M.A., M.Sc.

Red Christian documents #34:

The dead hand of the Church

by Rosemary Radford Ruether

As Catholic Christians, such liberation theologians as Boff, Sobrino, and Miranda do their theology in profound recognition of the ambiguity of the church from its beginnings. they cannot skip over any part of this history and claim innocence of it. They have to deal with a church that refuses to be open to repentance by claiming to be endowed by Christ with an inability to err. They have to look at the way this church sacralized the power of Rome by merging the kingdom of Caesar with that of Christ. They have to trace through the centuries the way in which the church has made Christ the apex of a class hierarchy  of rich over poor, men over women, masters over slaves, clergy over laity, nobles over serfs and finally Europeans over Asians, Africans and Indians. All the evils of the world from which Christ came to liberate us have been taken into the church and sanctioned through the Lordship of Christ. The cross of Christ has even been made the lynching post for Jesus’ own people, the Jews.

How, then, does one discover in this church the gospel as good news to the poor? Because this same church is also the church of Latin America, the church of people who are poor, exploited and despised, who are victims of these systems of colonization and dependency. It is by identifying with these people, their own people, the Latin american masses, that the church learns to hear the words of Christ and to become a repentant church. This means that this church has to speak not simply of personal sin, but of social sin, of sin as collective and institutionalized violence and greed. Social  in is of a different order from the sum of all the sins of individual sinners. It becomes a world which we inherit and which biases our opportunities, either as oppressed people or as privileged people, even before we have been able to make personal choices. This means that even people of good will will do evil and profit by evil because of their privileged location in this system. this sense of social sin gives liberation theology a new understanding of the Christian doctrine of inherited sin, not as sin inherited through biology, but as sin inherited through society.

(Emphasis added)

Source:
Ruether, R.R.”To change the world. Christology and Cultural criticism” SCM Press (1981) p.25

Related Zingcreed Posts:
Structural sin
Liberation theology, dead or alive?
Boff on poverty
Jesus’ real political message
No way Jose (Miranda)
Alphabetical index of other ‘Red Christian documents’ Posts

[353, i&l, t&c]

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