The Suffering Reality of the Oppressed in God-The World's Future and Its Implications for Dalit Theology

Article excerpt

The following essay by Moses Penumaka was originally printed in the August 2012 issue of Currents in Theology and Mission, a Festschrift-issue honoring Ted Peters, Professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union. Due to technical issues, the footnotes were inadvertantly lost. we apoligize to Dr. Penumaka for this error and reprint his work here in its entirety.

Where freedom freely strolls in fields yielding not to the rule of hardened heart, Prefers to be poor to being a tongueless tool, Where people love orphans more than their own children, Kindly tell me where it is: I want to meet those brothers.

Joshua Gurrum in Gabbilum

Theodore Frank Peters is a systematic and philosophical theologian, a scientist, teacher, pastor, mentor, and most of all a "simple human being" with honesty and integrity in the church, and the academy. Peters' theology is centered in God's grace and hope revealed through Christ's suffering, death, cross, and resurrection. Peters maintains the integrity of the various theological, philosophical, and scientific disciplines with which he facilitates a serious and systematic conversation. As a systematic and philosophical theologian, he is deeply committed to Christian doctrines. As a scientist, he is passionate about scientific imagination and exploration. Peters taught theology, research methodology, and skills of being and becoming excellent teachers. I am one of the many students who had the privilege to work with him and I consider it a great honor for me to be one of the contributors for this festschrift. Ted Peters' theology and science projects might seem "wacky" for some, but for the professionals, they are filled with wit, humor, deep theological and scientific insights, and creative imagination. For example, The Evolution of Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Life: Where in the World is God? is a perennial theological and existential question Peters attempted to address from an evolutionary, theological perspective at the Seventh Annual Goshen Conference on Religion and Science. In one of the lectures he said:

  Beginning with the cross one might ask: can what we have learned
  about God's love and grace through divine revelation in the cross
  apply to our expanding knowledge of nature's evolutionary history?
  Because the story of Jesus is the story of God's incarnation
  entailing the taking up of the human experience of injustice and
  suffering into divine life, would it follow that in nature God
  identifies with the victims of unfitness? Would it follow from
  Jesus' Easter resurrection that we have reason to believe the
  future will be different from the past, that eschatologically the
  lion will lie down with the lamb? Yes. (1)

Of course, Peters affirmatively says yes. The question "how" always remains hypothetical until the voices from the margins, the voices of the victims, the women, the dalits, the aboriginals, the homeless, "the victims of the unfitness" share their experience. This paper attempts to address the question "how" from a dalit theological perspective.

Inappropriateness of Orthodoxy

Liberation and contextual theologies emerged as a response to the inappropriateness of the dominant religious orthodoxy and lacuna created and perpetuated by or-thopraxis. Liberation theologians reflected on praxis, resistance, spirituality, mysticism, contemplation, and so on in the light of the Scriptures and the struggles in their contexts. Personal struggles, stories, and experiences of being dalits, women, crucified, wounded, oppressed, poor, victims, and marginalized became the loci and impetus for liberation theology. Two most important aspects that liberation theology addresses are the poor andthe praxis. As a rare and outstanding poet, emerging from the oppressed dalit (meaning "oppressed, broken, or marginalized") social background, Joshua Gurram developed a radical social and theological critique of dominant Hinduism in Andhra Pradesh, India. …