What Evangelicals Can Learn From Latin American Liberationist Ecclesiologies
As Western Evangelicals, we have much to learn from Liberationist Ecclesiologies. I will hit on two primary contributions. First they help us see the beauty of grassroots movements, by focusing on being the church “from below”. The synod of 1971 made a massive contribution when they tied back together what Jesus had fully integrated, evangelism and social justice, by declaring “social justice as a ‘constitutive’ dimension of preaching the gospel” (175). This undoubtedly helped to lead to a church of the poor, for the poor and oppressed. I believe that if our gospel isn’t good news for the poor, then it is not the same good news that Jesus came to proclaim. And as Boff has said, “Jesus preached and died in public, out in the world, and he is Lord not only of little corners of our hearts, but of society and the cosmos as well” (182,3).
These grassroots churches are not only the church “from below” in that they care about social justice, they also champion freedom from restrictive hierarchical structures. Taking their cues from the Trinity, they seek community that is interdependent, communal, relational, participatory, self-surrendering and self-giving. The leadership of the church is not restricted to priests and bishops, but the leaders or directors “can be priest, deacons, men or women, religious or laymen” (181). Boff and others desire the expression of the full priesthood of believers. This asymmetrical approach to leadership is empowering to both women and men, is a healthy pattern of power distribution and helps to de-professionalize the ministry.
Quotes from Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical and Global Perspectives by Veli-Matti Karkkainen