Leon Lemmer: Bevrydingsteologie

Deel op

Barack Hussein Obama (gebore in 1961) het in 2009 te midde van groot euforie die 44ste Amerikaanse president geword. Dié groot opgewondenheid het veral uit swart geledere gekom, mildelik gesteun deur wit liberaliste, want Obama is die eerste swart president in die Withuis. (Die ANC sou lankal die naam van die presidentswoning geafrikaniseer het.) Sedertdien het daar groot ontnugtering met Obama se leierskap by ‘n groot deel van die Amerikaanse bevolking ingetree. In baie gevalle het dit niks met etnisiteit te make nie. Toe Obama verkies is, was baie inligting oor sy verlede nie algemeen bekend nie. Ideologies pas hy glad nie in by die Amerikaanse hoofstroom nie. Een van die groot onheile in Obama se gees is die invloed wat bevrydingsteologie op hom gehad het. Ek hoop om by ‘n latere geleentheid in besonderhede te skryf oor wat Obama is. In hierdie rubriek beperk ek my aandag by die wesenlike aard van bevrydingsteologie omdat dit ook plaaslik ‘n hoogs onsalige invloed uitoefen.

Die teks wat ek gebruik, is hoofstuk 4 van William Washington Bragg se uitstekende studie, Obama’s radical roots: Saul Alinsky, Jeremiah Wright, and the others who shaped his worldview (The Jefferson Adams Library of American History, 2011, 105p; Amazon Kindle $7,97). Die persoon wat ek uitsonder vir aandag is Jeremiah Wright (gebore in 1941). Hy was Obama se pastoor tydens sy verblyf in Chicago as “community organizer” (1985-1988). Die kerk is die Trinity United Church of Christ, waar Wright die prediker van 1972 tot sy aftrede in 2008 was. Obama en Wright het in 1987 ontmoet. In daardie stadium het Obama ooreenkomstig sy opvoeding geen kerklike verbintenis gehad nie. In Indonesië het hy egter ‘n tyd lank ‘n Moslemskool bygewoon. Van 1992 tot 2008 was Obama ‘n Trinity-lidmaat. Wat hom na die christelike godsdiens aangetrek het, was Wright se swart bevrydingsteologie.

Toe Obama in 2008 besig was met sy veldtog om die VSA se president te word, het Wright se anti-Amerikaanse en anti-semitiese uitsprake in preke bekend geword. Byvoorbeeld, volgens Wright Amerika “supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans” (Kindle 1327). Obama het dit toe gerade geag om sy lidmaatskap van die Trinity-kerkgenootskap te beëindig, maar hy het Wright nie veroordeel nie. Obama het sy slagspreuk, “The Audacity of Hope”, wat ook die titel van een van sy boeke (2006) is, by Wright oorgeneem. Hoop is een van die begrippe wat in die geledere van Amerikaanse swartes misbruik word om hulle in hulle stryd om “geregtigheid” teen blankes aan te spoor. Plaaslik het dit aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch (US) sonder (veel) protes weerklank in die bevrydingsteoloog Russel Botman se Hoopprojek gevind.

Ek laat Obama nou agterweë en gebruik Bragg se boek om die aard van bevrydingsteologie te belig. Bragg verskaf ‘n duidelike en gesaghebbende uitsetting daarvan. Dit is plaaslik ter sake omdat hierdie ideologiese virus/meem, soos die geval met baie ander idees is, van Amerika na Suid-Afrika oorgewaai het, met uiters nadelige gevolge. Bevrydingsteologie is wesenlik so skandalig dat die verregaande vertolkings waarmee vorendag gekom word konvensioneel gelowige christene aanstoot kan gee. Ter wille van egtheid maak ek oorwegend van aanhalings gebruik. Daar is talle variasies binne bevrydingsteologie, maar die uiteensetting wat volg gee ‘n betroubare aanduiding van die kernbeskouings.

Wright is nie ‘n oorspronklike denker nie. Dit gaan vir hom om swart bewussyn en swart mag. Hy het sy idees van prominente Amerikaanse swart bevrydingsteoloë oorgeneem. “From the beginning of his tenure at Trinity, Wright emphasised social justice, pushing members to engage in political activism. He established educational programs for members focused on black authors and figures from black history” (1400). “Wright sees his educational programs as crucial to forging a distinctively black identity, in resistance to the culture of white America. He says ‘assimilation slowly kills you’ and that ‘sin and assimilation are just alike'”* (1727). “Wright himself says of his church that its ‘theological perspective starts from the vantage point of Black liberation theology being its center” (1421).

[* Die swart minderheid in Amerika word vryelik toegelaat om rasse-integrasie teen te staan en groepidentiteit uit te leef. In Suid-Afrika met sy verswelgende swart meerderheid word die wit minderheid aan gedwonge rasse-integrasie onderwerp en groepregte ontken.]

Die twee bevrydingsteoloë waarop Wright veral steun, is James Cone (gebore in 1938) en Dwight Hopkins (gebore in 1953). Die oorsprong van hierdie polities verwringde teologie kan teruggevoer word na Martin Luther King (1929-1968), wat ‘n prediker was maar glad nie ‘n teoloog nie. Vir King het dit gegaan om burgerregte vir swartes, sosialisme en die radikale herverdeling van rykdom. Volgens hom was rykdom ‘n skande. Hy was anti-kapitalisties, anti-imperialisties, anti-materialisties en het ‘n revolusie van waardes bepleit. Die Sondag na die sluipmoord op hom sou King oor “Why America may go to hell” gepreek het (1453). Vandaar Wright se: “God bless America? No, no, no. God damn America!” (1459). Hy “saw America as condemned by God for its injustice” (1459).

In 1966 het die National Committee of Negro Churchmen hulle by die beweging vir swart mag, soos gelei deur King en Stokely Carmichael (1941-1998), aangesluit met as voorneme: “defining its aims in theological terms. These clergymen signalled their eagerness to redefine the Gospel message of Jesus, to correspond to the black community’s demand for power” (1467). Ter uitvoering hiervan het Cone in 1969 sy boek, Black Theology and Black Power, gepubliseer. Dié boek “relates the militant struggle for liberation with the gospel message of salvation” (1474). In ‘n latere boek, Black Theology and Black Liberation (1970), skryf Cone: “Black theology is a religious explication of black people’s need to redefine the scope and meaning of black existence in white racist society. Black power focuses on the political, social, and economic condition of black people, seeking to define concretely the meaning of black self-determination in a society that has placed definite limits on black humanity. Black theology puts black identity in a theological context, showing that black power is not only consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ: it IS the gospel of Jesus Christ” (1474).

Swart bevrydingsteologie is dus ‘n radikale hervertolking van die Bybel.

“Members of this school of thought see the entire Biblical text as an allegory for modern day political and economic oppression, with a single message: that true Christians must resist this oppression wherever they find it. Ideas of personal faith, morality, sin and redemption take a back seat to the demands of politics* – and of a decidedly radical orientation. As Cone puts it, black theology focuses on ‘God’s liberating activity in the world on behalf of the freedom of the oppressed.’ He claims that the entire Biblical story has a single, unifying theme: God’s ‘liberation of slaves from sociopolitical bondage.’ For him, as well as for Wright and others, God’s mission is targeted directly and exclusively at blacks and other people excluded from the benefits of capitalism and political power, and it makes little room for whites and those who are not poor in its scheme of salvation. On this scheme … it is almost impossible for black people to be sinners, and almost impossible for white people not to be” (1485).

[* Dit is waarom die bevrydingsteoloog Desmond Tutu hom uitsluitlik op politieke aksie toespits en skynbaar nooit oor bv die religieuse bekering van mense begaan is nie.]

“As Cone reads the Bible, its narrative begins with God’s selection of Israel as His chosen people on account of their enslavement by the Egyptians. However, the Israelites themselves fail to create a socially-just society, and this leads to the rise of Old Testament prophecy, as God seeks to re-affirm his political message. Finally, Jesus Christ comes to teach this message to the world, and does so by locating his ministry among the poor and the oppressed” (1494). Ter ondersteuning hiervan word Lukas 4:18 gebruik: “om die evangelie aan armes te verkondig … om onderdruktes in vryheid uit te stuur.” “Jesus not only ministers to the victims of oppression but takes on the role of victim himself. Cone calls him ‘the Oppressed One’. From this, we get a very particular view of the Trinity. God as creator is the maker of the Israelites as His chosen people, with a special place in the scheme of creation. After He has set them free, however, He must do the same to all the oppressed people of the world. This is the role of Jesus, the Oppressed One, who takes on the burden of oppression for all and makes their liberation possible. In today’s world, God continues His liberating mission as the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that acts in today’s world to guide people towards liberation” (1494).

Waarop bevrydingsteologie neerkom, is enersyds die selektiewe gebruik van die Bybel en andersyds die kreatiewe vertolking van daardie tekste ooreenkomstig verlangde politieke oogmerke. “Cone explicitly rejects the apparent meaning of Matthew 5:3, where Jesus is described as blessing those who are poor ‘in spirit’. Cone insists that it is economic and political, not spiritual, poverty that is of interest to God in determining His scheme of salvation. And Cone goes further. He insists that Christ’s mission is exclusively for those who are poor in this sense. As he puts it: ‘it is important to point out that Jesus does not promise to include the poor in the Kingdom along with others who may be rich and learned. His promise is that the Kingdom belongs to the poor alone'” (1503). Dit is duidelik dat hier van die swartes se kant af nie op ‘n voorbeeldige manier hande gevat word soos wat blankes alewig opgeroep word om te doen nie.

“The gospel of Christ is no longer a universal one. It makes no provision for those who are neither poor nor oppressed. Cone goes so far as to say that any view of the gospel that ‘fails to see Jesus as liberator of the oppressed is heretical'” (1514). Dit is nie bloot ‘n geval van swartes wat nie hande vat met blankes nie. Hierdie soort teologie kom eerder neer op die verwerping en verdoeming van (alle) blankes. Onderliggend is daar by hierdie bevrydingsteoloë nie liefde nie maar haat jeens blankes.* “Reverend Wright explicitly endorses this reading of the Bible as a story of God’s exclusive mission to the oppressed. As he said in one of his speeches: ‘In biblical history, there’s not one word written in the Bible between Genesis and Revelations that was not written under one of six different kinds of oppression, Egyptian oppression, Assyrian oppression, Persian oppression, Greek oppression, Roman oppression, Babylonian oppression'” (1514).

[* Palestynse kinders word in hulle ouerhuise, skole, moskees en ander organisasies geleer om die Israeli’s te haat. In Amerika word swart kinders in hulle ouerhuise, skole, kerke en ander organisasies geleer om blankes te haat. Ek probeer glo dat hierdie verskynsel (nog) nie in dieselfde mate in Suid-Afrika voorkom nie.]

“Black liberation theologians have no interest in the idea of sin as a judgement on the moral choices of individuals … The poor are victims of sin, not its purveyors. On Cone’s view, it is effectively impossible for black people to sin, and effectively impossible for white people not to. This view of sin, which absolves the poor of personal responsibility, dovetails neatly with liberal and socialist views of poverty itself, which see poverty as the result of structural factors, mainly race, rather than the result of individual life choices or differences in talent. As Hopkins puts it, succinctly: ‘People are poor because they are victims of others'” (1523). Dit volg dat wanneer swartes moeilikheid veroorsaak, bv misdade pleeg, hulle op onskuld aanspraak kan maak. Per definisie is swartes sondeloos en dus ook nie-rassisties. Die stelsel (‘n maaksel van blankes) kry die skuld, nie die skuldige swart individue nie. Gelykverklaring lei tot ‘n ontkenning van verskille in talent. Al wat glo nodig is om die gelykheid van almal te bewerkstellig is gelyke geleenthede. Aangebore verskille in bv talent en intelligensie word ontken.

“Redemption is also redefined. It comes not when an individual admit to his sins and accepts Christ in his life. Rather, it comes when a society achieves ‘liberation’, meaning an overthrowing of the economic and political order as it stands. Humans, says Cone, reflect the image of God only when they are ‘in rebellion against the structures of oppression’. Again, only those who are oppressed can be saved. And only those who resist will be” (1535). Teen die hele sosiale stelsel moet dus weerstand gebied word, want daardie stelsel is die oorsaak van armoede. “Otherwise, they are effectively denying Christ” (1545).

Met feitlik absolute noodwendigheid volg daar uit die voorafgaande hierdie verregaande aanspraak: “Christ himself is black. Wright has insisted on this in very literal terms. He says: ‘Evidence exists within and outside the Bible to support the notion that the people of Israel, and the people of most of the empires and kingdoms that surrounded them at that time were of African descent!’ He cites Rev 1:14-15 as evidence that Jesus had ‘nappy hair’ and ‘bronze skin’,* and he even refers to the Holy Land as ‘northeast Africa’ The theologians, however, focus more on the symbolic significance of the black Christ than its historical validity: Christ is black because of what he represents. ‘The black community,’ says Cone, ‘is an oppressed community primarily because of its blackness; hence, the christological importance of Jesus must be found in his blackness. If he is not black as we are, then the resurrection has little significance for our times'”(1545). In swart bevrydingsteologie se opleidingskursusse word die “African roots of Christianity” beklemtoon (1746).

[* Oor Iemand soos die Seun van die mens word gesê: “Die hare op sy kop was wit soos wit wol, soos sneeu … Sy voete was soos geelkoper” (Openbaring 1:14-15).]

“In the works of Cone, Hopkins and their followers, the struggle for the liberation of the poor from their economic oppression become a race war. Cone says that the black Christ leads ‘the warfare against the white assault on blackness by striking white values and white religion.’ The Holy Spirit guides blacks towards first of all, a sense of solidarity with one another as a single oppressed community, and second preparation for their confrontation with whites. Cone advocates what he describes as a ‘destruction of whiteness, which is the source of human misery in the world.’ He says that ‘whiteness, as revealed in the history of America, is the expression of what is wrong with man. It is a symbol of man’s depravity.’ He even describes whiteness as a symbol of the Anti-Christ” (1555).

Jacob Zuma se uitspraak dat al Suidelike Afrika se probleme met die aankoms van Jan van Riebeeck begin het, is sekerlik versoenbaar hiermee. Die gesindheid is anti-blank.

Cone skryf voorts: “The time has come for white America to be silent and listen to black people … All white men are responsible for white oppression … Theologically, Malcolm X [1926-1965] was not far wrong when he called the white man ‘the devil’ … Any advice from whites to blacks on how to deal with white oppression is automatically under suspicion as a clever device to further enslavement” (1566). Die wens dat blankes hulle bekke moet hou, is plaaslik deur linkse wittes soos Samantha Vice, Pierre de Vos en Gillian Schutte uitgespreek (Praag 12.02.2013). Die jongste geval is Pieter du Toit (Netwerk24, 1 Desember) wat sê blankes moet luister en hande vat. Dit is geskryf na aanleiding van Ferial Haffejee se versugting dat wittes liewer nie moet wees nie. Sy verwys waarskynlik na wit talentvolheid wanneer sy oor wit bevoorregting kla. In die praktyk het daar plaaslik veral blanke benadeling oorgebly, maar blankes moet glo nie laer trek en beskerm wat hulle materieel en geestelik darem nog behou het nie. Die voortsetting van gewelddadige ANC/UDF-gedrag word nou “gespierde” optrede genoem.

Naas Lukas 4:18 (kyk hier bo) word Matteus 25:40 deur bevrydingsteoloë ter regverdiging van hulle evangelie gebruik: “Vir sover julle dit aan een van die geringste van hierdie broers van My gedoen het, het julle dit aan My gedoen.” Eksodus word gebruik “as the tale of liberation of God’s chosen people. However, they do not deny that their reading of the Bible requires a highly selective, and creative, approach to the text” (1577). Ander tekste wat gebruik word, is Jeremia 12:13-17, bv “die swakke en die arme” (1678), Jesaja 61:1, bv “mense in nood” (1671) en dan ter regverdiging van militantheid bv die swaard-verwysings in Matteus 10:34 en Lukas 22:35-38 (1671). Volgens Cone “the Bible … is a valuable symbol for pointing to God’s revelation in Jesus, but it is not self-interpreting” (1577). Sodra veronderstel word dat wat in die Bybel staan nie letterlik waar hoef te wees nie, word die deur geopen vir allerhande vertolkings; insluitende dié van die bevrydingsteoloë.

Die swart bevrydingsteoloë het nie gekom tot waar hulle is sonder die hulp van blanke teoloë nie. Bragg verwys na die werk van Karl Barth (1886-1968) en Paul Tillich (1886-1965). “Tillich explicitly rejects all approaches to the Bible that insists on its literal truth” (1584). Tillich skryf: “All the actions, past, present and future, which men attribute to God … are symbols taken from our daily experience, and not information about what God did once upon a time or will do sometime in the future. Faith is not the belief in such stories, but it is the acceptance of symbols that express our ultimate concern in terms of divine actions” (1592). Bevrydingsteoloë kon daardie “ultimate concern” as vertrekpunt gebruik.

“Despite his debts to Barth and Tillich, Cone speaks harshly of white theologians, making comments that are in line with his general views on race. He dismisses them as racists who are incapable of understanding God’s message … ‘Biblical thinking is liberated thought’. Thus ‘White theology is not Christian theology at all'” (1603). Cone skryf: “Progressive white theologians, with few exceptions, write and teach as if they do not need to address the radical contradiction that racism creates for Christian theology … White supremacy is so widespread that it becomes a ‘natural’ way of viewing the world” (1613). “The solution for Cone and the others is to break free from not just the tradition of white theology, but from the exclusive reliance on the Bible. As part of their struggle to liberate their own thinking, as well as that of other blacks, from what they see as the distortions of white theology and culture, black theologians have looked to the traditions of non-Christian Africa* … Black religious thought thus becomes ‘neither exclusively Christian’ nor ‘primarily African.’ Instead, it is ‘reinterpreted for and adapted to the life-situation of black people’s struggle for justice in a nation whose social, political, and economic structures are dominated by a white racist ideology'” (1622). “For the black theologians, the religion and myths of Africa have special importance as a source of symbolism. Hopkins offers what he calls a ‘theological anthropology’ that attempts to intergrate figures from black folklore with Christian ideas” (1632).

[* Dit kan om hierdie rede wees dat Desmond Tutu, asof hy dit kan weet, beweer dat sowel christene as nie-christene hemel toe gaan.]

“Though Cone and the other black liberation theologians initially focused their attention almost exclusively on the situation of black people in America, they have since expanded their analysis to victims of ‘poverty, colonialism, human rights [abuses], and monopoly capitalism’ in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia. Cone now says … they are willing to find solidarity with any ethnic group seeking economic and political liberation from ‘Euro-American domination.’ Hopkins says: ‘The Fall – the rise of monopoly capitalism – gave birth to and marginalized the majority of the world’s population in the modern period'” (1642).

Met die duidelike uitsondering van blankes kan enige etniese groep guns in die oë van bevrydingsteoloë vind.

Hoewel bevrydingsteologie eerder politiek as christelike (of enige ander) godsdiens is, is dit dwarsoor die wêreld invloedryk omdat dit aanklank by armes vind, asook by diegene wat dink hulle word onderdruk. In die Wêreldraad van Kerke (WRK) speel bevrydingsteologie ‘n beduidende rol. Tog het die NG Kerk dit wenslik geag om deel van hierdie gemeenskap van (on)heiliges te word.

Die Belhar-belydenis (1982), wat groot verdeeldheid in NGK-geledere veroorsaak, ontleen skaamteloos aan die Amerikaanse swart bevrydingsteologie, bv: “God … op ‘n besondere wyse die God van die noodlydende, die arme en die veronregte is … die kerk … moet staan … teen die ongeregtigheid en by die veronregtes.”* Hierdie belydenis is in die Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland se fakulteit teologie geïnisieer, by name deur Jaap Durand en Dirkie Smit. Die Stellenbosse Kweekskool van die NGK en die UWK-fakulteit het sedertdien saamgesmelt in die US se fakulteit teologie waar bevrydingsteoloë soos Allan Boesak en Nico Koopman invloed uitoefen en waarin daar deesdae geen gesonde besware teen bevrydingsteologie, die Belhar-belydenis, homoseksualiteit of omtrent enige ander mode-neiging opklink nie; sekerlik nie teen transformasie en ‘n eentalig Engelse US nie. Hierdie gees was ook op die jongste NGK-sinode waarneembaar met besluite ten gunste van die Belhar-belydenis en homoseksuele praktyke. Die teologie-entrepreneur André Bartlett het hom hierin verlustig.

[* Die teoloog Sakkie Spangenberg vra in ‘n onlangse artikel twee tersaaklike vrae: Waarom het Martin Luther (1483-1546) destyds nie die kant van die verarmde en onderdrukte boere in die Boere-opstand gekies nie? Waarom het bevrydingsteoloë eers in die 20ste eeu ontdek dat die Drie-eenheid aan die kant van die armes en onderdruktes is? “Die Belharbelydenis, die Bybel en Jesus van Nasaret,” LitNet 23.12.15.]

Naas die Belhar-belydenis toon die Kairos-dokument (1985), opgestel deur onder andere Frank Chikane, duidelik die militante kenmerke van bevrydingsteologie. Sommige kerke en moskees het as terrorisneste tydens die “bevrydingstryd” gefunksioneer, met as veronderstelling dat diesulkes nie sondig nie. Die opstellers van die Kairos-dokument het onderskei tussen “the ruthless and repressive activities of the State”, wat hulle afgekeur het, en “the desperate attempts of the people to defend themselves”, wat hulle goedgekeur het, asof die ANC/UDF en PAC net verdedigende geweld gepleeg het. “Although the document did not explicitly support the armed struggle of the liberation movements, it gave such a struggle unprecedented legitimacy.” In 1987 het ‘n byeenkoms van die WRK verklaar “that the nature of apartheid ‘compelled’ liberation movements to take up arms” (John Allen, Rabble-rouser for peace, 2006, p 288).

Les bes is daar Willie Esterhuyse wat skryf: “Die tema van geregtigheid oorheers in die Ou Testament” (God en die gode van Egipte, 2009, p 239) en “Die profetiese tradisie was … primêr ‘n bevrydingstradisie” (p 240). In sy latere boek borduur Esterhuyse hierop voort: “As daar ooit ‘n godsdienstige en morele revolusionêr was, dan was dit Jesus van Nasaret” (Die God van Genesis, 2010, p 198).

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