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University of Waterloo
Religious Studies
RS 121
Adam Stewart

Module 4: Gutiérrez: Idolatry, death, evil A: - Gustavo Gutiérrez, 1928, philo, psych and theology - Roman catholic priest - Roman catholic theology very traditional in the period he lived, strong border between catholics and non - non catholics “not saved” - clergy, Christ, church, spiritual, celibate, men, religion, spirituality and soul dominant while devil, world, flesh, mortal body, sexual, laity, women, politics and economics are subordinate/bad - church concerned about saving the soul of the poor, not with how to improve their quality of life, spiritual matters > economics/politics - 1970 wrote “theology of liberation”- moved away from thinking about economics/politics and something that had to do with the world/spirit, people began to look at the body and soul together - new mood: redefinition of everything: what it meant to be saved, to be good, to be Christian and the goal of Christianity b: - Hebrew scriptures: the negation of god is not defined as atheism but as idolatry - Idolatry: acceptance of something that is absolute, as finite - Classical definition: worship of idols of false gods/pagan gods  a way of the church creating a boundary b/w the church and the world (us vs them) - Devil ruled world and therefore was considered to be behind the pagan gods - Anyone outside the church was considered a pagan- “the devil in disguise” - Guiterrez: idolatry is a permanent temptation open to every civilization, including Christianity  the worship of something finite (scriptural definition) 2 dimensions: 1. cognitive/belief dimension: emperor Constantine took Christianity and elevated it to the official religion of the roman empire in an effort to unite the empire, from that point on, Christians have really emphasized orthodoxy- right thinking and communities have been defined by their beliefs - not every religious communities does that, hindus accept many diff ideas and definitions of god, instead they emphasize orthopraxis: acceptance of certain practices like the caste system - emphasis on belief of creating borders: catholics vs protestants 2. practical dimension: idolatry is the first and foremost a behavior/practice - key question: whom in practice do you serve? - Shifts focus from ideas to practice - Good samaritian: good not by ideas but by actions - Trust and submission: trusting something other than god and subjecting one’s life to the dictates of that object - Work of human hands: Yahweh is described as the created of all things, yet we worship something as absolute that is the work of our own hands  Karl marx, the revolution becomes the idol/absolute - Demand for human victims: lives of the poor are offered as sacrifices to the “idol”, the god of idoltarty is a murderous god- blood is shed for the desire for money, the poor as defined by gutierrez are those who suffer at the hands of the system, in some cases it really means their lives  industrial rev: wages dropped below the sustenance level for many people C: - use of slavery from gold mines of early latin America - bartolome de las casas: chaplain in the invading armies and later became a slave owner- wrote “las casas: in search of the poor of jesus Christ” - when he came to the new world, adopted to the Spanish world view: Indians were idolaters and had no rights, Spanish had rights to this land and gold, real work of evangelization of the Indians - later observed the Indians were not idolators- were were worshiping the god of life - Spaniards had the right ideas of god but worshiped the god of death - Idolatry disguised as evangelization- people were evangelizing the Indians, bringing them to the true god C1: - did not accept the treatment of the Indians - born in 1484 - became an encomendero - tan his planatation as pleasantly and generously as he could to the indians - tried to create a peaceful colony in Venezuela - became a Dominican priest himself - disputation of Valladolid: las casas and juan gines held a debate on the right of the Spanish to conquer the Indians- declared that jesus himself is biased for the poor and that the conquest was totally illegitimate because he saw the Indians of “poor” of jesus - dussel said there was a culture in society- argued that this is a world describing interation b/w culture and society - dessel stated that only an “other” could cause a breach in the syste - for las casas, the “other” was the indian and the Spaniards could not be saved until they recognized the humanity of their slaves - once one took the humanity of the Indians seriously they couldn’t go back to the negative world - las casas awakening: Indians are human beings as they are the loved ones of god, what’s evil here is not a question of individual morality it is a question of social sin - you cant be a “good” slave owner because slave owning is wrong - at one point he proposed the spainards consider importing black slaves from Africa because he saw this as less objectionable than indian slavery- in the end he realized that blacks also
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