This article focuses attention on the capabilities approach, an increasingly influential approach to human development. The case is made that, in light of its popularity, a Christian public theological engagement with this approach is needed. The various attempts that have been made up until now to engage the capabilities approach from the perspective of Christian theology have been lacking in methodological awareness and clarity. On account of this weakness an explicit methodological framework is developed through a revised form of the method of correlation. For that purpose, the work of Paul Tillich, David Tracy and Dan Browning is put to use. What this revised method leads to in practice is examined through a dialogue with Martha Nussbaum (one of the main proponents of the capabilities approach) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
The Covid-19 pandemic presented enormous challenges for secular and religious institutions as well as religion scholars engaged in the critical study of religion. The unique opportunities for scholars of religion include questions about the very nature of our academic work. Inclusive of scholarly research and dissemination, along with the administrative work and service that facilitates this, is academic work to draw from the rich wellspring of the traditions we study and represent, or does it neglect them in the daily affairs of our work? With a particular regional focus, and despite traditional academic disciplinary conventions within the critical study of religion, this article argues that religious traditions and the critical appropriations of their wisdom and ongoing actions provide an important reckoning with the reality of the ever-changing and often terrible conditions in the contemporary world. They provide a critical feature of what it means to cultivate an ecology of ethical responsibility and care.
The issues of elder sexual abuse and sexual freedom in residential care facilities are complicated by the existence of many residents with cognitive impairments of a kind that compromise their ability to make decisions based on informed consent. The issues of elder sexual abuse and sexual freedom in faith-based residential care facilities, in particular, are further complicated by restrictive, theologically based, ethical principles pertaining to sexual activity – for instance, prohibitions on extra-marital sex and the use of prostitutes by residents. The tension that arises must necessarily deal with the integrity of faith-based aged-care facilities and current legislation that promotes the rights of age-care residents to sexual freedoms. In the midst of much public concern about the level and quality of institutional age care this particular aspect seldom attracts notice. It nevertheless exposes a quandary to do with how ought public theology and ethics respond.
Mainstream theological discourses on economic issues tend to concentrate on the disparity between the poor and the powerful. The focus of this writing is on a segment of society often overlooked in such a contrasting approach, namely those who can be identified neither as the poor nor the powerful. Picking up on small business to represent the ‘in-between,’ this article suggests a theological reflection concerning the works of God with those who should be called ‘the small’. It starts with describing the contemporary situation faced by small business, particularly in Asia. The situation is analyzed using the business ethics’ stakeholder approach. The theological response follows the method of a public theology by interacting Christian resources with the situation of small business in relation to their stakeholders. The result is a new construction of public theology starting with the notion of God’s preference for the small.
The Christian Scriptures present an idealized vision for human flourishing that includes material and economic justice, as well as relational, spiritual wholeness. This binds Christians to a non-negotiable responsibility to work to prevent and alleviate poverty as an act of participation in God’s redemption of creation. Key to this work is an appropriate and accurate understanding of human flourishing (and its corollary, human poverty) as multi-dimensional. Consequently, any Christian theology that seeks to address the prevention and alleviation of poverty must also explore the necessary issues from a multi-dimensional perspective. While there are diverse ways in which Christians can participate in this divine work, a Christian vision for the alleviation and elimination of poverty must have a focus on long-term structural solutions to injustice, and the importance of community and relationship. This article gives particular attention to a Canadian context. (150 words only)
This article addresses the dualistic worldview surrounding climate change to be found among evangelicals in the United States. Since the majority of the traditionalist American evangelicals identify themselves with the Republican party, their views towards climate change tends to be highly skeptical: they tend to favour policies that protect the free-market economy. The Cornwall Alliance and its evangelical constituency, in particular, has provided a ground for a critical discussion concerning an association of Christian faith with conservative political ideologies from a particular biblical viewpoint. The key framework in the Alliance’s theological claims against environmentalism in general is an assumed dualism. This interpretive lens increases political bias/prejudice thereby impeding constructive discussion and a much needed co-operation between parties in the era of climate change.