Toward a Chewa ecotheology with special reference to the thought of Ernst M. Conradie

Chitheka, Bossman Suzumile (2015-03)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study concerns the possibility of the Nkhoma Synod C.C.A.P. formulating its own ecotheological views as a way toward motivating its members to participate in addressing the ecological crisis in the Malawi. First the major issues in the study are introduced, namely what the ecological crisis is and what its causes and consequences are, globally as well as in Malawi. The other issue is whether the Nkhoma Synod may learn from existing ecotheological reflections, specifically those of Ernst M. Conradie and whether, in the process, elements of African culture (specifically that of the Chewa, who form the majority of the constituents of the Synod) that resonate with Conradie’s work may be taken into account to make the Synod’s ecological message more understandable and effective among its members. With regard to the causes of the ecological crisis, natural causes are identified, but it is shown that the current crisis is particularly the result of human action. Malawi, a very poor country, is shown to already be negatively affected by the crisis in different ways and on almost all levels of society. The reflection on the ecotheological thought of Ernst Conradie takes as point of departure his understanding of the term “church” as a locus of ecotheological reflection and action. Conradie’s theological understanding of the causes and consequences of the ecological crisis is explained and special attention is given to the most recent emphasis in his work, namely his understanding of the culture of consumerism as the root cause of the ecological crisis and what the theological implications and solutions to this may be. With a view to ascertain what Chewa culture may contribute to efforts by the Nkhoma Synod to formulate ecotheological principles for its members, the meaning and characteristics of culture are discussed as well as the important issue of what the relationship between it (culture) and theology/faith may be. Different elements of Chewa culture are then identified and explained, especially ecological sensitive elements in it. Finally these elements are brought into conversation with Conradie’s thought in an attempt to find ways in which the ecological sensitivities in Chewa culture may strengthen efforts by the Synod to motivate its members towards ecological responsibility and action on the basis of their faith.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die vraag wat staan teen die agtergrond van hierdie studie is die wenslikheid en moontlikheid al dan nie van die formulering van eie ekoteologiese insigte deur die Nkhoma Sinode C.C.A.P. in Malawi in die lig van die ekologiese krisis wereldwyd en in Malawi. Die kwessie wat eerste bespreek word is wat die ekologiese krisis is en wat die oorsake en gevolge daarvan is. ’n Ander kwessie is of die Nkhoma Sinode kan leer by bestaande ekoteologiese sienings, spesifiek die van Ernst M. Conradie en of dit, in die proses, elemente van Afrika-kultuur (spesifiek dié van die Chewa, wat die meerderheid van die Sinode se lede uitmaak) wat resoneer met Conradie se insigte in ag kan neem ten eiende ’n eie effektiewe en verstaanbare ekologiese boodskap te formuleer. Met betrekking tot die oorsake van die ekologiese krisis, word beide natuurlike en mensgemaakte oorsake uitgewys. Malawi, ’n baie arm land, word reeds negatief geraak deur die krisis op verskillende wyses en op bykans alle vlakke van die samelewing. Die bespreking van die ekoteologiese insigte van Conradie neem as vertrekpunt sy verstaan van die term “kerk” as locus van ekoteologiese refleksie en aksie. Conradie se verstaan van die teologiese oorsake en gevolge van die ekologiese krisis word verduidelik en aandag word veral gegee aan die mees onlangse klem in sy werk, naamlik sy verstaan van verbruikerskultuur as die kernoorsaak van die ekologiese krisis en wat die teologiese implikasies daarvan mag wees. Ten einde vas te stel hoe Chewa-kultuur mag bydra tot die Nkhoma Sinode se pogings om ’n eie ekoteologie te formuleer, word die betekenis en eienskappe van kultuur bespreek asook die belangrike kwessie van die verhouding tussen kultuur en toeologie/geloof. Verskillende elemente in Chewa-kultuur word dan geidentifiseer, veral mbt die eko logiessensitiewe aard daarvan. Uiteindelik word hierdie elemente in gesprek gebring met Conradie se insigte in ’n poging om maniere te vind waarin die ekologies-sensitiewe elemente in Chewakultuur mag bydra tot die pogings van die Nkhoma Sinode om die lede daarvan te lei tot groter ekologiese verantwoordelikheid en aksie gegrond op hul geloof.

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