Walter Altmann, World Council of Churches, Liberation Theology and Soviet Ghosts

Walter Altmann, Lutheran advocate of Liberation Theology

To have a prominent leader of the powerful liberal World Council of Churches complaining that an article against Liberation Theology has impacted negatively his activities is no small honor to a conservative.

On a 30 May 2018 Facebook post, Rev. Walter Altmann, a former Moderator of the World Council of Churches, protested against an 2006 article titled “Soviet Ghosts Haunt the World Council of Churches,” written by Mark D. Tooley and published by FrontPage Magazine.

Perhaps, because Tooley’s article was in English, it would have had no impact in Brazil if it had not been translated into Portuguese.

I translated it and published it in Brazil in 2007. Since then, Altmann, who is a former president of the Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession in Brazil (ECLCB, the largest Lutheran denomination in Brazil), has seen, as he told in his Facebook post, his own Facebook friends publishing my translation of Tooley’s article in his own Facebook page!

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So at last he unburdened his heart to his Facebook friends, saying:

When one intends to accuse another person of something that he is supposed to have committed, an elemental ethical principle is to give the person beforehand the opportunity to clarify and defend himself, for whoever makes the accusation public, if unfounded, will have incurred in slander and defamation. And, certainly, you have broken the biblical commandment to not bear false witness against anyone.

Well, it happens routinely for one of my ‘friends’ to pass on as an indisputable truth the claim that I was a ‘Soviet agent’… They do so by reproducing a slanderous article, from a page of Washington’s extreme religious right, translated into Portuguese in 2007, by Julio Severo…

Altmann’s Facebook post is interestingly titled “EU – FANTASMA SOVIÉTICO?” (AM I A SOVIET GHOST?)

In this point, I can clarify and even defend Altmann. He is not a Soviet ghost! In fact, Tooley’s article never said that Altmann was a Soviet ghost and did not target him mainly. It targeted the World Council of Churches (WCC), making it very clear that its reference to Soviet ghosts meant the Soviet influences in movements and conferences supported by WCC.

If Altmann’s friends are using my translation of Tooley’s article to request a biblical accountability from him, why doesn’t he listen to their plea?

Even if Altmann had never been the Moderator of the World Council of Churches and even if he never attended conferences influenced by Soviets, his spiritual problems are not solved.

In October 1999, when he was the president of the Latin American Council of Churches, Altmann met communist dictator Fidel Castro and gave him his book “Lutero e Libertação” (Luther and Liberation). So, even without Soviet ghosts, the hard truth is that Altmann, in his activities and books, has been an advocate of the Liberation Theology, which Luther never advocated.

In 2009, Mark D. Tooley published his article “Resurrecting Liberation Theology: The World Council of Churches tries to revive Marxism in religious garb,” in FrontPage Magazine, where Altmann was quoted as saying in a WCC publication:

“Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, twenty years ago, many critics have been quick to sign liberation theology’s death certificate. Most of them did so because they understood it to be an apology of bygone Soviet-style socialism. It seems, though, that this death certificate has been issued prematurely.”

According to Altmann, as quoted by Tooley,

“Liberation theology is spiritually grounded on — and gets its motivation from — the life changing encounter with Christ as liberator and with our neighbors,” whose suffering results from “systemic injustices and oppression.”

Alas for Altmann, I translated and published Tooley’s article in Brazil!

Even though Liberation Theology is not Protestant, because of his ecumenical involvements through WCC he eventually adapted it to the Lutheran perspective. The Protestant version of Liberation Theology is Theology of Integral Mission. The Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession in Brazil is prominent in both liberal theologies, thanks to leaders like Altmann.

So am I accusing Altmann of being a former Soviet agent because he advocates Liberation Theology? No. Even though the KGB used Liberation Theology for its own advantage, it was not produced by the KGB. Such mistaken propaganda was probably created by a former communist who for years has been sponsored by the CIA. As recognized by a Brazilian traditionalist Catholic in the article “Liberation Theology, a KGB Invention? That Is Way Too Simple…,” Liberation Theology was born in the Catholic Church before the KGB.

If Altmann had got involved only in the Gospel, by proclaiming it, healing the sick and expelling demons — just as Jesus and his disciples did —, he would never have had time or interest to get involved in a political theology that uses the Gospel to proclaim Marxism and make Christians sick and demonized.

Ecumenism drew Altmann away from Jesus’s Gospel and brought him near “Christian” Marxism, or Liberation Theology.

Even if Soviets had never used Liberation Theology, it is not Christian, because it uses the Gospel as a left-wing political platform.

Liberation Theology is not spiritually grounded on Christ as liberator, as Altmann alleged, making Christ a political liberator at the service of the leftist ideology. He bore false witness. Is Christ a Deliverer? Certainly. He delivers people, even Christians, from diseases and demons. And Christians who preach Liberation Theology are spiritually oppressed and need to be delivered from demons.

I have publicly clarified that Altmann is not a Soviet ghost. But he was involved with Soviet ghosts and he was certainly influenced by the Catholic liberal theology through ecumenism.

So if these public accusations are based on Altmann’s public activities and writings, why does he insist on saying that these accusation are “unfounded” and that Tooley and I have “incurred in slander and defamation”?

If he actually believed in his own unfounded accusations, he would have long ago pressed charges against us.

Altmann should stop whining about the consequences of his ideological choices.

He should be kept accountable for having borne false witness against the Gospel of Jesus Christ by using it to promote Liberation Theology.

The Gospel belongs to Jesus Christ. Liberation Theology belongs to the Catholic Church. And Marxism belongs to Karl Marx. So give back to the Catholic Church what is Catholic Church’s. Give back to Marxism what is Marxism’s. And give back to Jesus Christ what is Jesus Christ’s.

The Lutheran Church does not need Liberation Theology imported, through ecumenism, from the Catholic Church. It needs deliverance from the demons of Liberation Theology and Marxism. It needs a charismatic renewal from the Holy Spirit.

Christians who live Spirit-filled lives do not need to be filled with liberal theological garbage.

Portuguese version of this article: Walter Altmann, Conselho Mundial de Igrejas, Teologia da Libertação e Fantasmas Soviéticos

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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