This chapter is a critical literature review of recent social science research describing and analyzing the participation of Christian churches in various phases of the human rights movement in Latin America. Spanning the period from 1964 to the present, such human rights activism took place in the contexts of authoritarian rule, civil war, democratic transitions, and the consolidation of democracy. The chapter focuses on the influence of Christian church leaders, laity, organizations, and resources on the origins, growth, and maturation of human rights-oriented social movement organizations (SMOs). Drawing on Douglas McAdam, Sidney Tarrow, and Charles Tilly’s work on political process theory, this literature emphasizes the invaluable role of religious organizations in providing space, resources, protection, and framing to nascent human rights movements in the region during the 1960s-70s. Even so, the literature also grapples with the diverse range of political stances taken by Christian church leaders and activists, both within and across national-level cases. With the maturation of the movement and the transition to democracy, political process theory remained relevant, but failed to capture some of the key challenges and opportunities experienced by Christian activists, as opposed to social activists in general. Thus, scholarship shifted focus to organized religion’s capacity to build social capital and sustain meaningful Christian social and human rights activism.
David G. Horrell
Paul saw himself as apostle to the Gentiles, and his mission consisted in founding communities of believers in cities across the Roman Empire. This chapter first outlines recent scholarship on the nature of these communities, considering their character, socio-economic composition, and likely meeting places, and asks in what sense we should consider them ‘Pauline’ communities. Suggesting that Paul’s letters may be seen as instruments of community formation, the chapter then turns to examine the kind of ethos Paul hoped these communities would embody, and the ways in which scholars have studied what is generally labelled Paul’s ‘ethics’. In terms of the broad contours and moral principles that shape this ethic, it is suggested that a primary focus is on corporate solidarity ‘in Christ’. Despite Paul’s emphasis on the distinctiveness and purity of the Christian communities in the midst of a ‘sinful’ and hostile world, it is also important to notice how far Paul’s ethical instruction exhibits points of common ground with both Jewish and Graeco-Roman ethics, and how far Paul himself calls for a stance of ‘doing good to all’. Finally, ‘other-regard’ is proposed as the second meta-moral principle in Paul’s ethics, a stance grounded in the example of Christ, whose self-giving for others forms the paradigm to which believers should conform.
In the 1960s, young Latin American theologians proposed that the circumstances of their continent—overwhelmingly poor and Catholic—raised questions that required their own theology. These questions arose from a pastoral context, but had political implications. They have pursued these questions through different contexts, especially the military dictatorships and the conflicts in Central America. In the 1980s, dozens of theologians worked together to develop major themes in theology (God, Christ, church) from a liberation standpoint. In the changed context of the twenty-first century, some theologians have continued their work, and have been pleased with the direction of the papacy under Pope Francis.
After a brief overview of the social context and role of marriage and sexuality in Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures, the chapter traces the impact of the Genesis creation narratives, positively and negatively, on how marriage and sexuality were seen both in the present and in depictions of hope for the future. Discussion of pre-marital sex, incest, intermarriage, polygyny, divorce, adultery, and passions follows. It then turns to Jesus’ reported response to divorce, arguing that the prohibition sayings should be read as assuming that sexual intercourse both effects permanent union and severs previous unions, thus making divorce after adultery mandatory, the common understanding and legal requirement in both Jewish and Greco-Roman society of the time. It concludes by noting both the positive appreciation of sex and marriage, grounded in belief that they are God’s creation, and the many dire warnings against sexual wrongdoing, including adulterous attitudes and uncontrolled passions.
Decisive for Luther's understanding of the praxis of Christian piety was the proclamation of the gospel of justification by faith. Trust in Christ, his gift to believers, elicits their prayer and worship through the engagement with Scripture in their prayer (oratio), meditation (meditatio), and daily struggles (tentatio/Anfechtungen). The Lord's Prayer served Luther as the model for all prayer, which believers practise because of God's command and the promise he gave to hear. The worship service, 'the place of justification', centres on God's Word, coming in proclamation and sacraments. The impact of Luther's faith-centred form of piety deserves further study.
This chapter investigates the theological justifications for violence within the sources of the Christian traditions, and also reports the symbolic representations of violence in the history of the tradition. It then presents a consideration of some specific issues that have provoked Christian people, to condone or even resort to violence while believing themselves faithful to Christian teachings and values. The chapter introduces the theological justifications of St. Paul, Jesus of Nazareth, just war, Crusades, inquisition and heresy trials, and missionary movements. Christian people have acted in ways opposed to violence, and have also warranted violence over the centuries by referring to scripture and by developing theological interpretations. Additionally, they preserve connection to its history of involvement of violence in a variety of symbols, rites, and rituals. In general, Christian people are moral agents who have to make decisions about how to act and how to act religiously.