I just learned about this false teaching via an article by Christopher J. Katulka in the July/August 2012 Israel My Glory magazine.
I’m already familiar with Liberation Theology, and have taken a class on Black Liberation Theology. Liberation theology is essentially Marxism and the social gospel rolled into one, and then it gets labeled by whichever victim group espouses it with their own particular slant.
PLT is the theology taught to, and preached by Palestinian Christians. The chief proponent is Dr. Naim Ateek, and this teaching is causing quite a rift between Israeli Christians and Palestinian Christians.
As much as Black Liberation Theology is cultish, so is Palestinian Liberation Theology. Ateek’s teachings include the claim that the Torah to be a “Zionist text” and he also has problems with other OT books which confirm God’s land covenant with Israel. Katulka says of Ateeek, “He speaks of peace and nonviolence but makes no apology for Palestinian terrorism. In fact, much of his rhetoric regarding Israel is indistinguishable from that of a Palestinian Muslim.”
When I learned that Dr. Ateek is an ordained Episcopal priest, that immediately told me why he was socialist as well as liberal in his theology. In the 1990s he also helped to found the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (Sabeel Center) in Jerusalem.
Ateek says Palestinians have been disenfranchised under “the colonialist Zionist Israelis,” and that Zionist Christians have a “dangerous theology.” It appears to me that Dr. Ateek needs to study more history and less socialism.
Katulka tells us that, “Today PLT is the primary doctrine of Palestinian Christians, rooting and grounding them in a highly politicized form of Replacement Theology.” He also tells us that “Dr. Ateek and the Sabeel Center have used the Palestinian dismissal of the Old Testament as an opportunity to propagate PLT, which desires to de-Zionize the Bible in order to promote and anti-Israel agenda.”
To better understand PLT teachings, Katulka cites the Sabeel Center’s definition of PLT:
Palestinian Liberation Theology is an ecumenical grassroots movement, rooted in Christian Biblical interpretation and nourished by the hopes, dreams and struggles of the Palestinian people.... In a situation where justice has been long neglected, Palestinian Liberation Theology opens new horizons of understanding for the pursuit of a just peace and for the reconciliation proclaimed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By learning from Jesus - his life under occupation and his response to injustice - this theology hopes to connect the true meaning of Christian faith with the daily lives of all those who suffer under occupation, violence, discrimination, and human rights violations. Additionally, this blossoming theological effort promotes a more accurate international awareness of the current political situation and encourages Christians from around the world to work for justice and to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
The blatant abuse of Scripture to support this cultic - as well as unChristian - theology, it atrocious. The total lack of any historical knowledge about the events which have taken place over the past 65 years is also demonstrated by the claims that there is even such a people group identified as “Palestinian,” a group which did not exist until long, long after Israel became a nation. Israel is not an “occupier,” nor are they the ones keeping the area a hot-bed of violence.
PTL is nothing more than a cultic teaching which reinterprets the Bible to suit their socialist agenda, as well as their Replacement theology. It is regrettable that a liberal Episcopalian priest has brainwashed the Palestinians who are searching for the real Christ of the Bible. We can just pray that these people will one day learn the truth and come to saving faith in the Christ of the Bible instead of a false christ of man’s making.