A British Response To Liberation Theology

Andrew Grinnell (Durham) and Ian Duffield (UTU)

It was great to have Anna Rowlands, political theologian and lecturer in Catholic Studies at Durham University, and some of her PhD students with us this week, as well as some other PhD students who are also practitioners in urban ministry.

This was the second conversation as we looked at Liberation theology – in the broadest sense – in Britain.

We took as our question for the day, ‘What is a British response to Liberation Theology?’ All participants were invited to tell as story of a time when they experienced a marginalised community, in Britain, do/express their own theology.

Hearing stories is often a better way of mapping the terrain than a pinned-down definition and that was certainly the case for this group.

We then had two presentations. Our own John Vincent introduced the idea of Liberation theology in the City with a challenge to academia that if you’re not on the margins ‘you don’t get to do liberation theology’ and a call to the church to discover radical discipleship.

Andrew Grinnell gave us a presentation on his work setting up Poverty Truth Commission in Leeds which he sees and ‘the most theological’ thing he’s ever done. You can find out more about Poverty Truth Leeds here.

The discussion that followed was hugely energising, despite a long day. Although we didn’t reach any consensus (surprise, surpise!) we did agree on the urgency of the task to not pay lip-service to listening intentionally and deeply for God’s wisdom in our most ignored and under-valued neighbourhoods.

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