This is the study of how theology can contribute its insights and perspectives to the current debate on how economic development should be conducted. It argues that the philosophy of economics is underpinned by the notion of scarcity as a point of departure for the solution of relative scarcity. This notion has guided the major economic systems - capitalism and socialism - around the world. In spite of unprecedented wealth in the last two hundred years, especially in developed countries, relative scarcity characterised by, inter alia, poverty, unemployment, and homelessness, continues in the modern world unabated. In addition, scarcity-guided economic systems have contributed to massive environmental degradation on a world scale.With the fall of socialist command systems, the market economy as the surviving economic system has, in many ways, contributed to the disruption of the moral fibre of society due to its exclusive emphasis on market virtues. The impact of the notion of scarcity can be illustrated in the specific case of Zambia with regard to its economic evolution and local ecclesial participation in this revolution. Zambia's political economy in all its phases in the period 1964 to 1999, was founded on the notion of scarcity. Apart from the well-known failures and weaknesses in the implementation of economic development programmes, the adherence to scarcity contibuted to the compromisation of social and enviromental imperatives. During the period under review, Zambian churches did not provide an alternative basis for economic development. They were content to contribute their pastoral and social tasks to society and to the economic development of Zambia within a social environment which was defined by the ethos of scarcity. In the light of the inadequacy of scarcity, this thesis argues that Christian theology needs to develop a new point of departure and model for economic development founded on stewardship. In order to do this well, Christian theology needs to spell out clearly relevant moral criteria. These moral criteria need to be expressed within the philosophy of stewardship as a feasible framework for economic development. Stewardship is not simply another moral criterion, but a workable Biblical metaphor and mechanism that calls on all humans to begin to manage well the resources of the earth for the sake of the human family and non-humans. Even though there were certain aspects of stewardship in the implementation of economic development programmes in Zambia, too little was done to achieve a social context defined by the ethic of stewardship. In this regard, Zambian churches should re-assert themselves and promote new values for economic life by appropriating this framework within their ecclesial structures. This ecclesial appropriation ought to be extended to their local economies, local businesses and to the state as a whole. This study humbly contributes to the emergence of stewardship-guided economic processes and systems which respect the interests of human communities and the environment as the basis of all life.
Thesis (PhD(Dogmatics and ethics))--University of Pretoria, 2007.