Original Research - Special Collection: Christian Leadership

Does the Christian church have any guidance to offer in solving the global problems we are faced with today?

D. Etienne de Villiers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 2 | a5852 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i2.5852 | © 2020 D. Etienne de Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 October 2019 | Published: 03 June 2020

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D. Etienne de Villiers, Department of Department of Systematic Theology and Church History, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

In his book, 21 Lessons for the 21st century, the historian Yuval Noah Harari devoted a chapter to the question of whether traditional religions could provide any guidance in solving the momentous global problems confronting us today. He drew the rather negative conclusion that they do not have any constructive contribution to make in solving these problems. This article made an original contribution to scholarly research by, from the perspective of Christian Ethics, subjecting this recently expressed view of Harari to critical scrutiny and by exploring the guidance the Christian church could offer in solving global problems we are faced with today, such as nuclear war, ecological collapse and technological disruption. These research objectives were realised by addressing four questions: (1) does the church have a responsibility to provide guidance in this regard? (2) What is the nature of the guidance the church ought to provide? (3) What are the factors hindering the church in providing such guidance? (4) Which conditions need to be fulfilled for the church to provide meaningful guidance? The answers provided to these questions were substantiated by drawing on the findings of published Christian ethical and social scientific research. The conclusion drawn from the article is that the church could today provide meaningful moral guidance in solving global problems. It should then, however, depart from an unbiased understanding of the message of the Bible and effectively deal with certain hindrances preventing it from providing adequate moral guidance.

Keywords

Church; Global problems; Christian ethics; Moral guidance; Responsibility of church

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