A Role of Reformed Theology in LatinX Contexts

As a Presbyterian in a predominantly white anglo-saxon church, it is easy for me to forget about pioneers of ethnic minority theologians and biblical hermeneutics. So I’ve been challenging myself to explore more of Gustavo GutiĆ©rrez, the father of LatinX Liberation Theology. It’s been a challenge because my mind is still set in the theological language of systematic theologians.

And perhaps it is too soon in my formal theological career to say that reformed theology is still important in latinX contexts. But, I’m certain that it is important for two reasons. The first is that the indegenous populations of the Latin Americas have mostly lost their indegenous belief system. In the case of Mexico, my ancestry, colonial empire destroyed much of the literature and belief system in place. In a time of “Renaissance Europe” the Catholic church assumed a complete authority over the populations of Mexico.

For many of us mestizos, that is mixed european and indegenous populations, we only knew Catholic doctrine and dogma. Even, if we were never exposed to it formally by attending church. The eradication of the indegenous belief system leads me to my second point. LatinX theologies are formed on the basis of Catholic theology.

In his speech “Toward a Theology of Liberation”, GutiĆ©rrez uses a defining marker of Catholic faith that the role of the incarnation is salvation. Now, I may be getting into muddy waters because I did use the term “incarnation” instead of Jesus. Still, the eschatological implications of the incarnation are not solely reflected on the paschal mystery.

In my limited reformed perspective, the incarnation is more than just the cross. In fact, I strongly support the idea of a “Risen Christ” versus the “Suffering Christ” on the crosses I wear. I’m good at creeds. Christ sits on the right hand...to judge. Perhaps that is where I still believe that reformation still needs to occur.

Scott Geller in his TEDx talk at Virginia Tech emphasized what I believe is the centerpoint of reformed theology. It's a talk on "the psychology of self-motivation" where he brings out some powerful "c-words" that exemplifies what it means to find self-motivation. And the "c-word" that struck me, is community. Geller makes the point in his final story that to be in community is to need each other. A powerful message of how the trinity is not an isolated three-persons entity. It is an entity of need for each other.

LatinX culture exemplifies community to a large degree. If the community of the trinity is an action of love. Sometimes, the community in latinX contexts is a community of perseverance. We prevail: always. It’s our motto, “si se puede!” (Translation: Yes, it can be done.) Using Geller’s idea of community, how even more astonishing will it be to say, “si podemos.” (Translation: Yes, we can.)

Yes, we can work toward a paradigm of community instead of a personal salvation.

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