Constructing an oikotheology : the environment, poverty and the church in South Africa.
Warmback, Andrew Edward.
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South Africa is a country of great natural resources yet suffers from high levels of poverty. This study looks at the relationship between the environment and poverty in South Africa and the role of the church in this context. There is a focus on the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA) and on one of its dioceses, the Diocese of Umzimvubu. While the church in South Africa has been conscious of its responsibility in eradicating poverty, it has not expressed a strong concern for the environment, less still has it been conscious that this concern is closely connected to the task of eradicating poverty. The metaphor of the oikos (or household) of God is explored as a metaphor that may be usefully employed to help describe the relationship between the environment and poverty. It is proposed that an oikotheology be constructed to enable the church to engage with both the ecological and the economic aspects of the environment. This study asserts that the preservation and enhancement of the environment impacts positively on the alleviation of poverty. What is also needed, and often neglected, is to ensure that the resources of the environment are accessible to all and equitably distributed. Theological resources that articulate an oikotheology for the South African context are explored, and possible actions for the church promoted.