Who Is Jesus Christ for Us Today?: Pathways to Contemporary Christology

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Be the first to review this item Amazon Bestsellers Rank: Customer reviews There are no customer reviews yet. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a product review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. For Boff, living out one's faith requires an engagement with the socio-historical forces of our time, recognizing that systemic oppression is the norm for millions of people living in the Third World.

Life of Jesus in the New Testament

Boff's praxis seeks to remind us that it is imperative for those doing theology, to first incorporate into their methods, social and political critiques of domination for the sake of transforming systemic oppression. For those who labor under the yoke of oppression and egregious political systems our first concern ought to identify for forces and mechanisms which diminish human dignity.

Who Is Jesus Christ for Us Today?: Pathways to Contemporary Christology

Boff sees Jesus of Nazareth as liberator from oppressive social conditions and his Christology is built upon this overriding norm. The overarching theme or thesis of the author's book lays claim that any Christology is necessarily partisan by its allegiance to social factors, and determined to a large extent by its social location. It cannot be otherwise for Boff, and I agree with his analysis. As Boff succinctly notes that everything begins from a social context, and will ultimately be colored by the particular theologian's social location. As the author so forcefully notes: Willingly or unwillingly christological discourse in a given social setting with all the conflicting interests that pervade it.

That holds true for theological discourse that claims to be "purely" theological, historical, traditional, ecclesial, and apolitical.

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The first is socio-liberation theology and the second is "the social setting that is a departure for this Christological reflection. Faith in this sense is always a process of engagement with the historical moment one finds oneself embedded; and thus, it seeks to develop strategies and implement action to overturn the forces of oppression for the downtrodden. Furthermore, Boff argues that the role of the theologian who has taken himself or herself out of the socio-historical moment is dishonest and false.

Boff is clearly an advocate for a process orientated Christological view that changes or adapts as history is lived in the moment under the weight of its ever-changing circumstances. Obviously, this is problematic for those who cling rigidly to their orthodoxies, dogma, and monolithic Christology wedded to the status quo. Conversely, Boff's Christology is dynamic and alive, thus pitting itself or pressing against the monolithic patriarchal forces, which contribute to oppressive and narrow conditions asserting the status quo at all costs.

As Boff tells us - and this runs as a foundational claim throughout his book - every Christology, "Is relevant to its own way depending on its functional relationship to the socio-historical situation; in that sense it is a committed Christology. So let us set down the basic affirmation: As an ordered and elaborated knowledge of the faith, Christology takes shape within the context of a particular moment in history; it is produced under specific modes of material, ideal, cultural, and ecclesial production, and it is articulated in terms of certain concrete interests that are not always consciously adverted to.

Hence the real question is who or what cause is served by a given Christology. Without the liberating voice of Jesus the Christ directly working to overturn systemic and economic oppression, Jesus' earthly life is rendered illegitimate and invalid since any Christology not so engaged is dishonest and false to Jesus' own life and praxis. Cleary, Boff is attempting to include political discourse as primary goal of his Christology asserting that any apolitical Christology is dishonest to the life of Jesus.

If, as Boff suggests, that Jesus is liberator, he most certainly comes to liberate the poor from oppression and domination. But the freedom Jesus' seeks to invoke is the freedom from the absence of love that the downtrodden were subject to endure in their daily lives in the ancient world.

Peter Lampe, English Publications

Jesus was a teacher extraordinaire who sought to include into his loving embrace all those who were excluded from love by the religious authorities who held a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. For Boff, the aim of church authorities, and theologians in particular, ought to bring about the Empire of God by working diligently to overturn the dominating forces responsible for economic marginalization of the poor.

In this sense, Boff's Christology liberates us from more than just sin missing the mark , but seeks to liberate us all from social, economic, and abusive systemic forces of oppression to which we knowingly or unknowingly participate. Without this dimension of liberation seeking to improve human dignity, no dignity is possible for anyone as long as some are left to endure and suffer without basic life necessities.

Without this liberating praxis tied to social structures, all are diminished -- even those who benefit from the system. In other words, all have claim to dignity, oppressor and oppressed alike! Any Christology that does not engage social praxis in the historic moment it finds itself, is nothing more than a sterilized shell lacking power or authority. The impotent Christology's found in most of our churches these days is quickly becoming ever more irrelevant to the historic mandate of Jesus of Nazareth. These diluted theologies which have become watered down and emasculated; often take on the look of a privatized spiritual hubris devoid of any meaningful connection to the downtrodden.

When this happens the historic Jesus is rendered illegitimate since it no longer is recognized as a font for action or personal transformation. Boff engages in the socio-historical analysis of the machinations of power by offering a critique of his own circumstances as a voice from the economic margins. In this regard, Boff offers two methods of analysis: Arising out of the Marxist critique, the dialectical model is more engaged and activist in scope and praxis; seeking to rock the boat of entrenched elites grown too comfortable with their personal privilege, and dominance over others.

In this regard Boff tells us: Similar criticisms can be made of the imperial and monarchical Christ's crowned with gold or of Christ the warrior king; these images hearken back to the glorious kings of Spain and Portugal.


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It begins in solidarity of the ghettos and shantytowns that litter the landscape of the enfranchised and asks disturbing questions meant to unsettle the elites and evoke action through a stinging observation when he says: It is liberative praxis that counts. It does not seek to make one or another improvement while maintaining the same structure of relations based on force reformism.

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Peter Lampe, English Publications | German for Neutestamentler

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