Empowering hope? : Jürgen Moltmann’s eschatological challenge to ecclesiological responses in the Zimbabwean context of poverty

Banda, Collium (2016-03-01)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study wrestles with Jürgen Moltmann’s eschatological concept of the ‘church of hope for the poor’ within the Zimbabwean context of poverty, in search for an empowering and liberating ecclesiological ethical framework of responding to poverty. The first section of the study analyses how the notion of the church of hope for the poor is conceptualised in Moltmann. The section argues that in Moltmann’s eschatological vision the church of hope for the poor emerges from at least three notions: the historicity of the trinitarian God of hope, the kingdom of God that promotes the restoration of life and the communality of the church of hope. The central argument is that, for Moltmann, eschatological hope stirs and empowers the church that believes in the triune God of the exodus and is waiting for God’s life-loving and life-promoting kingdom to use its communal nature to defend the poor. Using Moltmann’s categories of the church of hope, the second section assesses the dominant church responses to poverty in Zimbabwe. The section highlights that in the colonial period, the church combined the preaching of the future hope with addressing the poverty of the local people, but also aided their oppression and segregation by the colonial administration. The slow rise of critical theological education among the indigenous ministers heightened the irreconcilability of the Christian hope for the future and present poverty, which resulted in the challenge of socio-economic marginalisation in the colonial era. However, in present liberated Zimbabwe, the church that challenged the impoverishing nature of oppressive colonial structures has either aided similar oppressive structures by the present ruling elite or seems too powerless and disinterested to oppose those structures that perpetrate poverty. The last section formulates an eschatologically informed ecclesiological ethical framework of liberating and empowering the poor to respond to poverty meaningfully. It establishes an eschatological basis for the church’s prioritisation of responding to poverty. Using the metaphor of the church as an African kraal, Moltmann’s notions of the historicity of the God of hope, the kingdom of God and the communality of the church of hope are unpacked as resources for empowering the church to engage with the Zimbabwean context of poverty. Imaged as the African kraal, the church is affirmed as a place where communality functions as a resource of empowering the poor, where the historicity of God is a place for human capacitation of the poor, and where the kingdom calls for a public theology model that rejects the church’s co-option by the ruling elite who oppress the poor and powerless. Thus, eschatological hope calls the church to play a critical and empowering role in a context of poverty.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie stoei met Jürgen Moltmann se eskatologiese konsep van die ‘kerk van hoop vir die armes’ binne die Zimbabwiese konteks van armoede en soek na ʼn bemagtigende en bevrydende ekklesiologies-etiese raamwerk wat reageer op armoede. Die eerste afdeling van die studie analiseer hoe die idee van ʼn kerk van hoop vir die armes deur Moltmann gekonseptualiseer word. Dié deel betoog dat Moltmann se eskatologiese visie van die kerk van hoop vir die armes uit minstens drie begrippe vloei: die historisiteit van die drie-enige God van hoop, die koninkryk van God wat die herstel van lewe bevorder, en die kommunaliteit van die kerk van hoop. Moltmann se sentrale argument is dat eskatologiese hoop die kerk wat glo in die drie-enige God van die eksodus beweeg, bemagtig en laat wag op God se lewegewende en lewe-bevorderende koninkryk deur haar kommunale aard te benut om die armes te verdedig. Die tweede afdeling assesseer die dominante kerk-reaksies tot armoede in Zimbabwe volgens Moltmann se kategorieë van die kerk van hoop. Dit beklemtoon dat die kerk in die koloniale tydperk die armoede van plaaslike mense aangespreek het deur die prediking van toekomstige hoop, maar ook hul onderdrukking en segregasie deur die koloniale administrasie ondersteun het. Die geleidelike opkoms van kritiese teologiese opleiding onder die inheemse leraars het die onversoenbaarheid van die Christelike hoop met huidige en toekomstige armoede beklemtoon, wat gelei het tot hul uitdaging van sosio-ekonomiese marginalisasie in die koloniale era. In die huidige, bevryde Zimbabwe het die kerk wat die verarmende aard van onderdrukkende koloniale strukture uitgedaag het egter soortgelyke onderdrukkende strukture van die huidige regerende elite ondersteun deur magteloos of belangloos voor te kom om strukture wat armoede bewerkstellig teen te staan. Die laaste afdeling formuleer ʼn eskatologies-geïnformeerde ekklesiologies-etiese raamwerk vir die bevryding en bemagtiging van armes as ʼn sinvolle respons tot armoede. Dit vestig ʼn eskatologiese basis vir die kerk se prioritisering van ʼn reaksie tot armoede. Deur die metafoor van die kerk as ʼn Afrika-kraal te gebruik, word Moltmann se idees van die historisiteit van goddelike hoop, die koninkryk van God en die kommunaliteit van die kerk van hoop ingespan as hulpbronne om die kerk te bemagtig in die aanspreek van die Zimbabwiese konteks van armoede. Met die beeld van ʼn Afrika-kraal, word bevestig dat die kerk ʼn plek is waar kommunaliteit funksioneer as ʼn hulpbron wat armes bemagtig, waar die historisiteit van God ʼn plek is vir sorgsame bemagtiging van die armes en waar die koninkryk ʼn oproep maak tot ʼn publiek-teologiese model wat die regerende elite se koöptering van die kerk om die armes net verder te onderdruk en te ontmagtig, verwerp. Eskatologiese hoop doen dus ‘n beroep op die kerk om ʼn kritiese en bemagtigende rol te speel in ʼn konteks van armoede.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98641
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