Steve de Gruchy on subjects vs objects of history

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The Rev. Dr. Steve de Gruchy (top left), with ministry students at the South Africa Synod House of Formation of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa on February 3, 2010, a few weeks before he died.

The assumption underlying much of our theologizing about development is that Christians must do good things for those who are poor, less privileged, marginalized or helpless…However, I am convinced that underlying this approach is the assumption that there is a divide between Christians and the needy that reflects a divide between actors and beneficiaries, agents, and clients, doctors and patients, and ultimately the subjects and objects of history. This is what leads me to ponder: ‘whose faith and whose works?’…are we not simply mirroring the power dynamics that lie at the heart of the experience of poverty, and hence reinforcing the very problem we think we are solving?

-Steve de Gruchy, “Of agency, assets and appreciation: Seeking some commonalities between theology and development,” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 117 (November 2003): 21-22.

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Read the full article (or open in 2 parts here)

Photo source: United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, South Africa Synod Bulletin, March 2010, pp. 3 and 8.

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