Wednesday, December 08, 2021
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Op-Ed

Theology of suffering and liberation

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By EMN Updated: Apr 22, 2014 10:17 pm
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Rev Dr. VK Nuh

I. The newly born church in Jerusalem began to grow rapidly but started to pay the cost. A prominent church leader Stephen was stone to death. The few faithful followers of Christ were as small as a flock of helpless sheep in the midst/face of packed hungry wolves. Stephen saw, “The heaven opened and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”. (Acts 7:35). We may not see Jesus the way Stephen did; but we can see Christ in the history of the church. Since AD 150 onwards we have seen how Christian follow Christ’s suffering in the hands of different countries.We have come to know from Acts 8 that the churches were growing but the reaching out of persecution scattered the church abroad, and whenever they went, they took their gospel with them. In the same manner God has chosen Paul to proclaim His message to the uttermost part of the world. Paul gave his testimony before King Agrippa (Acts 26:15) how he encountered with Christ in Damascus road in the beginning of his life. He came to realized that life would not be easy to follow Christ. It is a matter of life and death. There had never been a day he had not lived in His presence.
II. Coming to recent history, racism started in the form of scattered violence against Jews, and the Nazi won 389 of the parliament in 1932. The German Christian churches largely stand by even applauding the development.
Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian came to the conclusion that: “Nazism is a devilish political movement” so he took part in the plot at an attempt of Hitler’s life. From liberation point of view he could be justified.
Dietrich Bonheoffer declared that the church had too long been only interested in maintaining its righteousness like that of Pharisees, for too long it had been concerned only keeping its hand clean, even to the point of failing to face the fact.
To him the cross means sharing the suffering of Christ to the last and to the fullest. Only a man thus totally committed in discipleship can experience the meaning of Cross.
III. It is questionable which church was stronger in the last four decades, the church under communism or under capitalism. A great growth of the church in China continues students, intellectuals and even party members are coming to this faith. A leaked Government census document has been reported as putting together the number of Christian at 100 millions. It is because of the suffering, churches brought Christian in such high percentage of growth.
IV. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ stand at the point of division between “the old order” and the “new order”. In the “new order” the new age is no longer the era of law, or of sin, or of death, but of life and grace (Gal.6:16). The new life order is the one who received the eschatological age.
The new creation embraces not only individual fate but also entire creation (Rom. 8:19-23). This is possible through the breaking of old solidarity with Adam (death) and accepting the new solidarity with Christ (life). How this transformation does take place? This driving force which keep the church going forward in the midst of despair, exploitation and cynicism? The new humanity is created after liberation by God, bring peace with God. This whole creation shares with the creative process initiated by God. Jesus declared manifesto of Kingdom of God. Lucan Theology (Luke 4:18).
V. It is interesting to note how Latin American churches were restructured in dramatic way last few decades. This was true even so called conservative churches. The one called “Evangelical” in United States. Latin America Evangelical had produced a new generation of leaders of an International caliber who cannot label with the old clichés about “fundamental”, “Conservatisms”, or “evangelical”. These are Christian people coming from marginalized poor masses in the society and found new life and hope in Christ. They found Christ and they discovered their people. It is between violent change and peaceful changes.
The 156 Bishops were not alone in Medellin. There were 100 experts with them. With the help of Christian economists, sociologists and theologians, the Bishops were able to see deeper than mere expressionistic view Latin American and to root causes and underlying structures on injustice and oppression. They call those realities and structures “Eternal Colonialism”, “Money Imperialism” and “Inter-Colonialism” and they prophetically pointed to them as “Institutionalized Violence “as a sinful situation.
It is amazing to see how Latin American Churches radical thinking restructured the whole structure. This is what I mean re-structure need a leader who can discover the people and situation.
This needs a man of radical thinking and participate the realities of prevailing situation. As we see our situation today, we need to restructure of our institutionalized churches. Every theology must be a living theology and it must address to the contemporary realities in a given context else it is just a price of historical study of religion. John Stott said, “People reject in Gospel not necessarily because they think it is false but became it no longer resonates with them. His word is not pre-historic fossil, to be exhibited under glass but a living message for contemporary world”.
The Naga Christian today must address to the living realities of Nagaland such as self-determination of the people, pain and suffering of the people, Problems of peace, justice and human rights; unity of the people, tribal solidarity and tribalism, social evils and corruptions; prophetic missions of the church.
VI. MInjung Theology
“Minjung Theology is a Korean word combining two Chinese characters: “Min” translates as “people” and “Jung” translated as “the mass”. Thus Minjung means the mass of people out of that struggling and suffering. Korean Christian wants to speak of what they have learned and reflected upon theologically, and to share this with others whom can, in their own social and political context are searching for relevant theology in Asia. Theology of minjung is a creation of those Christians who were forced to reflect upon their Christian principles in basement interrogation room, in trial, facing court-martial tribunal hearing the allegation of presents and making their own final defense. They reflected on their Christian commitment in prison cells, in their letters from prison cells to families and framed in their reading of books sent by friends all over the world. IN their employment, in their stay at home under house arrest while subject 24 hour watch over activities.
Mara Ellis said “Out of that suffering and struggling, Korean Christians want to speak of what they have learned and reflected upon theologically and to share this with others who in their own social and political context are searching for a relevant theology in Asia”.
The theology of Liberation was not the product of seminary professors working at their desks, but the reflections of Christians engaged in human struggle. It was the result of a new reading of scripture in a particular historical situation. It was not an intellectual exercise, but participation of people struggle, it is the story of God’s liberating act in history. The experience of the Exodus became the key to a new perception of God. As a Columbian theologian has said;“We have to read Latin material with the eyes of the Bible. And we have to read the Bible with the eyes of Latin America”.
Nichals Berkin said “My daily bread is material problem, But the daily bread of my neighbor is spiritual”.
VII. Contextual Theology of the Naga
By nature Naga people are God fearing people and peace loving people. Morally they are honest people. They were under British Empire for 70 years when there was no sunset in her Empire. When Great Britain decided to give up her empire to the entire world, they gave liberty to people to choose in what way they can live as a free man. Therefore when Simon Commission came to Kohima the Naga people then submitted the memorandum to the Simon Commission in 1929 which read “We should not be thrust to the mercy of the people who never subjugate us; but leave us alone to determine ourself as in ancient times”
When time comes, the Great Britain to hand over the power, India had to divide in the religious line among Hinduism, Muslim, and Buddhist. The Naga leaders led by A.Z.Phizo said “Naga will join neither India nor Pakistan; we are Christian and cannot be Hindu and Muslim”. When Republic of India conducted the first general election Nagas sent back the empty ballot box to Shillong. But When Naga plebiscite was conducted 99.99% gave thumb impression for Naga Independent. Years back when Assembly election came people have forgotten their religion. It is said that last general election Rs. 10,000 Crores of rupees have been spent, where those money have gone and who gave them?
Today we have seen Naga people voting percentage came up to 94 % whereas the other state is only 50% in recent Lok Sabha election. To us be it NPF or Congress or any other political parties makes no difference. All the party took oath to serve the Government of India. Does it mean that Naga are still fighting for sovereignty or broken our Covenant what Naga people have done 70 years ago. In today’s generation, the Indian election system is destroying all the spiritual firmaments, social fabric, economic justice and people’s morality.
Therefore judgment of God fallen to Naga people terribly, tragedy one after another. Is there any Nation on earth that 7 Government ruling in a society? But Naga people are suffering under 7 Government paying their taxes.
If Naga people believe theology of Liberations then churches must stand up and say “NO MORE ELECTION UNTIL NAGAS ARE LIBERATED FROM THE BONDAGE OF GOVERNMENT OF INDIA”.

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By EMN Updated: Apr 22, 2014 10:17:07 pm