Ask a Liberation Theologian…

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Today we pick up our “Ask a” series again with “Ask a Liberation Theologian…” 

I wanted to feature liberation theology because I hear people reference it now and then, but I really don’t know much about it, and I suspect I’m not alone. I also suspect it’s one of those fields of theology that is often misunderstood, particularly at the popular level. 

Generally speaking, liberation theology interprets the teachings of Jesus in terms of liberation from poverty and injustice, emphasizing the Bible’s teachings regarding freedom for the oppressed and Jesus’ mission to “teach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed…(Luke 4:18).  Liberation theology found some of its first expressions in Latin America and among African Americans, but now includes a range of expressions, including feminist and womanist theology. 

I also wanted to feature liberation theology because I wanted to find a way to introduce you to Monica Coleman. A scholar and activist, Monica is committed to connecting faith and social justice. An ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Coleman has earned degrees at Harvard University, Vanderbilt University and Claremont Graduate University. Coleman is currently Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions and Co-Director of the Center for Process Studies at Claremont School of Theology in southern California. She is also Associate Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University.

As a survivor of rape, Coleman became committed to speaking out against sexual violence in 1996. She founded and coordinated “The Dinah Project,” an organized church response to sexual violence, at Metropolitan Interdenominational Church in Nashville, TN. Her expertise in religion and sexual violence has taken her around the country to speak at churches, colleges, seminaries, universities, and regional and national conferences.

Coleman’s writings focus on the role of faith in addressing critical social issues. She gives hope and inspiration in her most recent book, Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression-a 40-Day Devotional.  Coleman writes about church responses to sexual violence in The Dinah Project: a Handbook for Congregational Response to Sexual Violence. In Making a Way Out of No Way: a Womanist Theology, Coleman discusses inter-religious responses to the joys and pains of black women’s lives. She is the co-editor of Creating Women’s Theologies: A Movement Engaging Process Thought and editor of the forthcoming Ain’t I a Womanist Too?: Third Wave Womanist Religious Thought.

Monica blogs on the intersection of faith and depression at Beautiful Mind Blog and writes a biweekly column, “Women, In Flesh and Spirit” at Patheos. She teaches weekly Bible study in her local church, and speaks widely on religion and sexuality, religious pluralism, churches & social media, social justice, mental health, and sexual and domestic violence. 

You know the drill: If you have a question for Monica, leave it in the comment section. At the end of the day, I’ll pick the top seven or eight questions and send them to her. We'll post Monica’s responses next week.  Be sure to take advantage of the “like” feature so that we can get a sense of what questions are of most interest to readers.

(You can check out every installment of our interview series—which includes “Ask an atheist,” “Ask a nun,” “Ask a pacifist,” “Ask a Calvinist,” “Ask a Muslim,” “Ask a gay Christian,” “Ask a Pentecostal” “Ask an environmentalist,” “Ask a funeral director,” and  many more—here.)

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