Theology names a productive area of CLP’s work, both in what we learn from grassroots struggles and in our own attempts to work this systematically into theological categories and arguments. Our work through CLP informs and reflects a broadly theological frame, which includes a commitment to the preferential option for the poor. This leads us to affirm that that the concrete struggles of those who do not count, mark the sacramental presence of God in the world and the opportunity of salvific, universal grace. CLP has thought of its work as concerning the relationship of people, church and land. Taking the option for the poor gives renewed force to the question: ‘Who is the church?’ For many people, the institutional church is not present in their lives and suffering but appears rather as a servant of power. The ‘people’s church’ (irrespective of denominational belonging) nevertheless remains very much part of their lives and CLP has created a variety of spaces for reflection through which people can explore and make explicit their own theologies.
At the same time, CLP remains cognisant of the social power of the institutional church and of the fact that it is not monolithic – there are spaces where it can and does shift. It has seen the God of the powerful in the institutional churches confronted with the scarred and weeping face of God in the shack settlements and believes something true and powerful emerges from this confrontation.