Theological Conclusion

In the global reality of social and political change the secular, left-wing ideologies of the post-1945 era have withered and died in virtually every nation that received its independence from European empires in those years. In their place have come a series of cultural and social changes, sometimes described as flows. The modern city is not a secular, planned, and socialist settlement but a chaotic growth of ethnic, religious, and cultural migrants. Davey is critical of Castells for failing to give due weight to the vibrancy of religion in the modern city (Davey 2001). Many migrants in pentecostal and other churches have a deep commitment to mission. At the same time there is an exploration of new patterns of worship, authority, and dialogue with other faiths. It is not always a comfortable agenda for Western Christians, and the emphasis on the supernatural can be disturbing. However, there is also a constant struggle for economic and social justice, with the need to build alliances between churches and secular bodies.

At the same time the reformulation of political theory into a more pragmatic approach requires an account which can justify alliances between churches and governments. The key issue here is how NGOs and faith communities can listen to one another without each losing its integrity. Liberation theology in Latin America can be reformulated into a capability approach, deeply indebted to Sen. Such socioeconomic factors provide minimum requirements for personhood. Thus, while one should not overlook other spheres of life, there is justification for particular attention to socioeconomic goods in discussion of an equality of basic capability (Hicks 2000). If one moves back to England, then it is clear that churches will survive in urban areas only if they create partnerships with secular agencies, thus raising again Sen's account of multiple identities and persons belonging to different agencies, all concerned with justice (Atherton 2000). How Christian communities can contribute to the formulation and enforcement of democratic contracts by alliance with secular bodies and NGOs is a constant refrain in this argument. Nussbaum shows, as does South African Joyce Seroke (2000), that religion cannot be regarded simply as a hindrance in achieving a secular, democratic society. What is needed is an alliance between religious bodies, political groups, and NGOs to develop human capabilities in a way that removes obstacles to their expression. In particular, Nussbaum's combination of classical philosophy and an attention to the needs of women is an innovating approach that allows local religious traditions to contribute to the enhancement of human capabilities. Sen equally argues that a theory of justice, which responds to poverty, cannot simply be universalist in the utilitarian or Kantian traditions, but must be fashioned out of local identities.

The global world of the twenty-first century is beginning to take shape. The most appropriate political theology is local, contextual, and found in the cities of the developing world. It will be made up of the interaction of theological and philosophical discourses. Christian communities are caught up in the massive changes created by technology and capitalism. They need to link their commitment to mission to awareness that oppression can be challenged. There are signs that this is beginning to happen. At the same time the philosophical approach pioneered by Sen and Nussbaum needs to be taken further. Churches are as much involved with the nurturing of human capabilities as any other agency.

The solidarities which support justice-making in the global cities of the future draw on ecclesiologies of complex, multiple identities. That is the most important point to make at the end of this essay. Many writers have overemphasized globalization as a force, and the reality is far more subtle and complex than is often allowed for. Nevertheless, the search for such identities will be the crucial task of this century. Churches can often be too accepting of the cultural and national relations in which they are set. They become too easily prisoners of their own culture (Williams 2000). The task which faces churches in many of the new, dynamic cities of the globe allows no such easy resolution of the issue.

There are two challenges for Christianity. One is the change in political thought, which is a shift to pragmatic, ad hoc theories of "what works," allowing no room for theories of human nature, but only appeals to the skills of technical experts in a particular area. This can isolate Christianity as, in the view of its critics, a religion which is insufficiently pragmatic, and too bound up with theories of justice which are dependent on past understandings of the relationship of citizen and nation-state. The second challenge is about the redefinition of mission, in terms of its contextualization. This article has resisted strongly the idea that globalization is a single, unitary process. Instead, there are a series of changes interacting with these challenges to Christianity. There is rapid urbanization across the globe alongside a decline in the power of nation-states to plan in the manner espoused by Western socialists after 1945. In these chaotic, fast-growing cities churches and other faith groups seek to evangelize, but they are repeatedly challenged as to their identity as the cultural identity of their city itself changes. They are also caught up in the struggle for justice. I have suggested that Nussbaum and Sen offer a way through this confused situation with their two key ideas. One is that of capabilities, whereby the struggle for justice allows for capabilities to be developed, without prescribing how these capabilities will be used. This means that there does not have to be a tight definition of what it means to be a person, but rather only an agreement as to what is necessary if one is to achieve one's personal identity, whatever that might be. In this way pluralism is built into the debate. The second idea is that of multiple identities, which again means that a theory of justice can be many sided. Both these ideas relate to the complex reality of the struggle to survive, and be a person, in the modern city.

Finally, global capitalism needs to be reformed. Hicks (2000) puts the point well: If the debt of many nations could be written off, much good would be achieved. The complexity of globalization stems from its reality as a series of local flows of information, capital, and human beings, which place many local cultures under a pressure to change that leads to breaking point. Only 50 years ago political theorists thought of the power of the state as being harnessed to produce a new society: planned economies interconnecting with social development. This was a worthy vision, but it is now dead. In its place is the energy of the global market, which churches struggle to contain so that it does not create yet more victims in its path. At the same time this energy is a challenge to the churches to find again the dynamic of the Gospel, which can speak through the challenges of globalization.


Atherton, J. (2000). Public Theology in Changing Times. London: SPCK.

Ballard, P., and Couture, P. (1999). Globalization and Difference: Practical Theology in a

Global Context. Cardiff: Cardiff Academic Press. Barnet, R. J., and Cavanagh, J. (1994). Global Dreams: Imperial Corporations and the New

World Order. New York: Simon & Schuster. Bauman, Z. (1998). Globalization. Cambridge: Polity. Bosch, D. J. (1996). Transforming Mission. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.

Budde, M. and Brimlow, M., eds. (2000), The Church as Counterculture. Albany: State University of New York Press. Bueno, R. N. (1999). "Listening to the Margins". In M. W. Demster, B. D. Klaus, and D.

Petersen (eds.), The Globalization of Pentecostalism. Oxford: Regnum. Cadorette, C. (2000). "Legion and the Believing Community". In M. Budde and M. Brimlow (eds.), The Church as Counterculture. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Castells M. (1997). The Information Age, 3 vols. Oxford: Blackwell.

Cohen, B. (2000). "Money in a Globalized World". In N. Woods (ed.), The Political Economy of Globalization. London: Macmillan. Coyle, D. (2000). Governing the World Economy. Cambridge: Polity

Davey, A. (2001). Urban Christianity and Global Order. London: SPCK.

Garrett, G. (2000). "Globalization and National Autonomy". In N. Woods (ed.), The Political Economy of Globalization. London: Macmillan.

Gascoigne R. (2001). The Public Forum and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gorringe, T. (1999). Fair Shares: Ethics and the Global Economy. London: Thames & Hudson.

Goverde, H. (2000). Global and European Polity? Aldershot: Ashgate.

Green, L. (2001). The Impact of the Global: An Urban Theology. Sheffield: New City.

Gunnell, B., and Timms, D. (2000). After Seattle: Globalization and its Discontents. London: Catalyst.

Hay, C., and Marsh, D. (2000). Demystifying Globalization. London: Macmillan.

Hicks, D. (2000). Inequality and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jungja Ma (1999). "Pentecostal Challenges in East and Southeast Asia". In M. W. Demster, B. D. Klaus, and D. Petersen (eds.), The Globalization of Pentecostalism. Oxford: Regnum.

Kaul, I., Grunberg, I., and Stern, M. (1999). Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press/United Nations Development Programme.

Landes, D. (1998). The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. New York: Little Brown.

Lloyd, J. (2001a). "Blessed Are the Pure in Heart". New Statesman, 23 April, 8-10.

Lloyd, J. (2001b). "How New Labour Wrestled with a World it Never Made". New Statesman, 30 April, 9-11.

Madeley, J. (2000). Hungry for Trade. London: Zed.

Micklethwaite, J., and Wooldridge, A. (2000). Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalization. London: Heinemann.

Nussbaum, M. C. (2000). Women and Human Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ohmae, K. (1990). The Borderless World: Power and Strategy in the Interlinked Economy. London: Collins.

Reich, R. (1992). The Work of Nations. New York: Vintage.

Rugman, A. (2000). The End of Globalization. London: Random House.

Samuel, V. (1999). "Pentecostalism as a Global Culture". In M. W. Demster, B. D. Klaus, and D. Petersen (eds.), The Globalization of Pentecostalism. Oxford: Regnum.

Sassen, S. (2000). Cities in a World Economy. London: Sage.

Schaeffer, R. (1997). Understanding Globalization. London: Rowman & Littlefield.

Sedgwick, P. (1995). God in the City. London: Mowbray

-(1999). The Market Economy and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University


Selby, P. (1997). Grace and Mortgage. London: Darton, Longman & Todd.

Sen, A. (1999a). Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

-(1999b). "Global Justice". In Kaul et al. (1999).

Seroke, J. (2000). "The Church - Advocate of Democracy". In L. S. Mudge and T. Wieser (eds.), Democratic Contracts for Sustainable and Caring Societies: What Can Churches and Christian Communities Do? Geneva: World Council of Churches.

Shriver, D. W. (2000). "The Taming of Mars: Can Humans of the Twenty-First Century Contain their Propensity for Violence?" In Stackhouse and Paris (2000).

Smith, M. P. (2001). Transnational Urbanism. Oxford: Blackwell.

Stackhouse, M. L., Dearborn, T. and Paeth, S. (2000). The Local Church in a Global Era.

Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans. Stackhouse, M. L. and Paris, P. J., eds. (2000). God and Globalization, vol. I: Religion and the Powers of the Common Life. Harrisburg: Trinity. van Leeuwen, M. S. (2000). "Faith, Feminism and the Family in the Age of Globalization". In Stackhouse and Paris (2000). Williams, R. (2000). On Christian Theology. Oxford: Blackwell. Woods, N. (2000). The Political Economy of Globalization. London: Macmillan.

0 0

Post a comment