Original Research - Special Collection: The Reformation, Transformation and Change Agency

Can Christians really make a difference? A response to the call for change to make the world a better place

Erna Oliver, Vusi Tshabele, Floris Baartman, Alfred Masooa, Lorna Laister
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 3 | a4351 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i3.4351 | © 2017 Erna Oliver, Vusi Tshabele, Floris Baartman, Alfred Masooa, Lorna Laister | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 October 2016 | Published: 26 April 2017

About the author(s)

Erna Oliver, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Vusi Tshabele, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Floris Baartman, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Alfred Masooa, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Lorna Laister, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

Christianity changed the world for the better through the development of education, charity organisations, art, music, law and medical care among others. However, not all changes initiated by Christianity were positive. The Christian religion was also responsible for division, death, destruction and war. Focusing on the positive changes, nearly 500 years after the reformation though, it seems as if Christianity has lost its renewing and transformative powers. It seems as if society, politics and the economy are pressurising Christianity to conform to the world and not the other way round. Therefore, the research focuses on the question whether Christians can bring about positive change and transformation to the current problems in society. What can Christians do to provide a religious response to current persistent societal problems? Change agents – people who drive positive change – are capable and competent, make use of networks, are visible and contactable and are often also outsiders in the communities they serve. Examples of the work done by change agents – Christians within their local communities – through small-scale community projects are showcased here to suggest possible ways forward for dealing with persistent problems from a Christian point of view.

Keywords

Christian Religion; Change agent; Second reformation; social change; spiritual leader; transformation; community engagement; Ubuntu

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