Original Research - Special Collection: Engaging Development

The elephant in the room: The need to re-discover the intersection between poverty, powerlessness and power in ‘Theology and Development’ praxis

Nadine Bowers Du Toit
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 4 | a3459 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.3459 | © 2016 Nadine Bowers Du Toit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 May 2016 | Published: 30 September 2016

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Nadine Bowers Du Toit, Department Practical Theology & Missiology, Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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South Africa remains a divided community on many levels: socially, racially and socioeconomically. This is no more evident than in the recent protests – most notably waged on university campuses and on the streets in the past year. This, the article argues, is closely related to the need to reclaim the notion of power by those who feel they remain relegated to the social and economic peripheries after over 20 years of democracy. While ‘theology and development’ praxis has been most closely associated in a post-apartheid era with welfare and charity approaches or pragmatic interaction with state and civil society (both of which have been critiqued), what has not been sufficiently addressed is the notion of power which once dominated ecclesiastical discourses. This is the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’, which the article argues must once again be revisited and re-engaged – both within scholarly reflection and within church practice – in order to address these divides.


church; power; poverty; Theology and Development


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1. Leveraging social capital of the church for development: A case study of a farming community in Wellington
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HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 75  issue: 4  year: 2019  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v75i4.5528