Bringing the crucified down from the cross: Preferential option for the poor in the South African context of poverty

Olehile Buffel


This paper makes an argument for the need and relevance of liberation theology and particularly its preferential option for the poor in the context of poverty. Post colonial and post-apartheid Southern African (and most if not all African) countries are still impoverished, with millions of the their citizens still living in dehumanising poverty despite the political liberation in the hands of the African rulers who replaced colonial and apartheid masters. Despite liberation and the dawn of democratic governments in Southern Africa millions of people are still suffering as a result of poverty. While the former colonies have been bequeathed some negative legacies that refuse to disappear, the main concern is that African leaders have failed to use the political powers at their disposal to bring about economic liberation and to transform the socio-economic and political structures that are responsible for the continuation of poverty. In the midst of these conditions that ensure the perpetuation of poverty and associated suffering theologians and pastors are disturbingly quiet and also failing to facilitate theological reflections in the context of poverty, to the extent that one is forced to ask some hard questions: On whose side are the pastors and theologians? On whose side is God? If as liberation theologians correctly argue that God is on the side of the poor, can theologians afford to be on a different side? Can they afford to be on a different side as they do theology, particularly as they do theology of missions? They are challenged to appropriate Jon Sobrinos theology of the crucified peoples and therefore make efforts to contribute to bringing the crucified down from the cross as they minister and as they reflect theologically.


Preferential option; poverty; liberation theology; crucified peoples; suffering; oppression; socio-economic structures; humanisation

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