Theology and Development

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BRENT FRIESLAAR

April 8, 2012
FACILITATOR: REV. DR. ISAIAS CHACHINE
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Theology and Development|
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Theological Reflection - Amartya Sen and Elaine Graham, Heather Walton and Frances Ward|

This paper will deal with the importance of Theological reflection and it will argue that theological reflection is the responsibility of all individuals in the human race. In response to Amartya Sen’s work in Development as Freedom as well the treatment of theological reflection and the analysis of methods by Elaine Graham, Heather Walton and Frances Ward, this paper will attempt to unpack what the term ‘development’ means with a view to offering a theological response to the concerns articulated by Sen in his book. This theological response will be rooted in Scripture while at the same time it will keep in its perspective what Christian discipleship means against the example of the life and ministry of Jesus. A key issue that needs to be addressed at the outset in this paper is the importance of theological reflection and development in theological seminaries. If the prime focus and purpose of a theological seminary is to prepare men and women for the ordained ministry and thereby equipping them to respond to the issues, dilemmas and realities of the world, then a course like Theology and Development is an essential course to have as part of a seminary’s core curriculum. If only biblical criticism, biblical interpretive skills, doctrine and liturgy is taught, then how will those being prepared for ministry be equipped with the necessary skills to translate what doctrine and scripture is saying to the issues, concerns and hopes of the communities they are sent out to serve? I propose that, as an intergrative approach, the course of Theology and Development should draw on all the disciplines of biblical interpretation, doctrine, ethics, transformation in a community, mission, Christian education, leadership and management and liturgy and worship. These are all essential elements that will enable the men and women in seminaries to engage theologically with the issues in the world. That is why I believe that it is right for the College of the Transfiguration Grahamstown to have this course in its curriculum and that it draws on all the disciplines mentioned above; as can be seen in the course outline for 2012. I am working here on the premise of the Charge to the Deacons, in particular. In An Anglican Prayer Book 1989, we find a key statement in the Charge to the Deacons. The statement charge reads: “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are to serve all people, and to seek out particularly the poor, the weak, the sick and the lonely”. Furthermore it also charges the deacons to “interpret to the Church the needs, concerns and hopes of the world.” A crucial question then arises, how is the Deacon to perform this work without the tools of theological reflection? How is the male or female deacon to translate the needs, hopes and concerns of the world to the church? How is he or she to serve, truly serve, all people and to seek out the poor, the sick, the weak and the lonely? I believe it is only through the tools of engagement which a course like Theology and Development can provide to form, inform and transform the students of the seminary and in so doing, they can become truly effective agents of transformation in the communities in which they find themselves. But, as Graham, Walton and Ward cautions, there are limitations of theological reflection. In a study among ordinands in the UK, it was revealed that they found the process and discipline of theological reflection ‘mystifying,alienating and non-specific rather than relevant or accessible’. (Graham, Walton, & Ward, 2005, p. 6). They continue by quoting other scholars who have suggested that programmes which were meant to enable Christians to engage in theological reflection were often ill-resourced and poorly designed. Graham et al quotes Stephen Pattison who used a...
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