Towards a theology of labour : a theo-historical enquiry of the interface between the English speaking churches and labour (1985-1995).
This study critically examines the relationship between the English-speaking Churches (ESC) and labour organizations in South Africa between 1985-1995. Following Richard Osmer’s model of practical theological interpretation, this study analyses the historical context of oppression in South Africa as a hermeneutical key to assess the role of the ESC and their relation to labour. Drawing from the Bible, other sources in the Christian tradition and the work of four contemporary theologians, the study identifies building blocks for a contextual theology of labour in an attempt to close the gap between theory and praxis. Particular attention is devoted to identify organisations committed to worker struggles during the period under review and their contributions to the relationships between Church and labour is assessed. The study explores why the ESC failed to translate their resolutions on labour into concrete actions or effective and coherent programmes alongside workers. Furthermore, the exploration offers insights and identifies ways to build healthy church and labour relations in contemporary society. The concept of human work as participating in God’s creative and continuing work of liberation to build a more just world is critically examined. This study claims that work gives meaning to life and is part of God’s salvation plan. This study concludes by connecting faith to the world of work and argues that churches can offer valuable and unique perspectives on work. Practical ways are suggested for the Church to contribute towards a genuine theology of labour and support the rights of workers.