The Liberating Dimension of the Kingdom of God – Evangelical community, civil society and political action – part 1

Chapter 4 of Carnival Kingdom is a contribution from Latin America. In the re-building of Peru following the devastation of the years of terrorist activity (‘the Shining Path’), Dario Lopez and other theologians have been at the forefront of the churches’ engagement with civil society – this included dealing with social and political injustices as part of the reconciliation process.

Summary of the chapter:-

“Active citizenship informed and motivated by a theology which values and
defends the life of every human being as the creation of God and which deepens
biblical justice is vital if we want to contribute to a radical transformation of the
structures of power and inequality. Dr Darío López Rodríguez presents the
relevance of such a citizenship from the context of poverty and marginalisation
in Peru.”

Here are a couple of snippets from the chapter posted up on the facebook page last week:-

“In my pastoral pilgrimage over 20 years, I have learnt that one can weave a theology of life from the periphery of society, which expresses itself as non-violent active resistance to the forces of anti-life which act with impunity in Latin American societies due to the abuse of power, injustice, corruption and high levels of poverty. This is a theology which values and defends the life of every human being as God’s creation, and which deepens when the justice of the Kingdom of God is proclaimed in a context of institutionalised injustice. The thread of this theology, anchored in the good news of the Kingdom of God, is the preferential love of God for the poor and the excluded. Preferential love is a universal theme in the Scriptures which present God as the go’el of the underprivileged, who defends the helpless, includes the excluded, humanises that which society treats as an object, and gives dignity to those people treated as leftovers by the powerful.”

“From my perspective, then, the good news of the Kingdom of God has a liberating dimension which must translate into social and political action for the benefit of the helpless of society and for the common good. As a consequence, the inclusion of churches in civil society and the public presence of believers in the political terrain should not be considered a circumstantial or peripheral matter; rather, they are visible and concrete expressions of those churches’ own understanding of what it means to be the people of God in mission at a particular time in history.”

Dr Dario López Rodriguez was born and raised in Lima, Peru, and grew up in abject poverty. Since 1992, Dr. López has been the pastor of the Mt. Sinai Church of God, located in the marginal district of Villa María del Triunfo, in Lima, Peru. His pastorate has been characterized as one of Pentecostal passion for wholistic ministry, including personal, social and spiritual transformation. Throughout his ministry, Dr. López has kept the biblical concern for needy children and marginalized women at the center of his pastoral and prophetic work. Presently, the Mt. Sinai church, with approximately 200 members, serves over 350 poor children each day with elementary education and meals. The ministry has also included a new church plant in an area of even greater poverty. Several of the women who have been discipled under Dr. López’ ministry have become actively engaged as leaders in grassroots community organizations for social change and have marched on the Palace of Government, demanding the passage of laws favouring poor children and families. Dr. López has served as General Director of the Association of Evangelical University Groups in Peru, as President of the National Evangelical Council of Peru, and has taught at a number of Latin American seminaries and universities. He has recently served on several governmental commissions dealing with issues of children’s rights and religious equality. Holding a Ph.D. from the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies/Open University of England, where he completed a thesis on the topic of Evangelicals and Human Rights in Peru, he is the author of twelve books and numerous journal articles. His hard-hitting book, La Misión Liberadora de Jesús (The Liberating Mission of Jesus, translated by Rick Waldrop), serves as a textbook.

In part 2, I’ll post up some more snippets!

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