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The neglected context: The growing impact of modernity on the South African population and its spiritual, economic and ecological consequences

Klaus Nürnberger

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 33, No 2 (2012), 11 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v33i2.733

Submitted: 14 April 2012
Published:  06 December 2012


Humanity seems to be drifting like a rudderless raft towards a cataract. The main factors are the growth of the human population, the escalation of material expectations, the exploding discrepancies between affluent and marginalised population groups and the impact of these growth processes on the natural environment. The modern claim to mastery, ownership and entitlement and its spectacular successes has led to unprecedented power without a concomitant growth in responsibility. In spiritual and cultural terms, modernity undermines all traditional certainties, values and constraints. The South African population is engulfed in a messy transition from African traditionalist, to modern and postmodern assumptions. The most reticent citizens are the least competitive and the most marginalised. The Christian faith, rooted as it is in tradition and geared to spiritual concerns, is no match for the power of the modern mindset. To regain its redemptive relevance, it needs fundamental reconceptualisations. The article closes with a few starting points for such a project.

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Author affiliations

Klaus Nürnberger, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Modernity; Traditionalism; Ecology; Economic discrepancies; Contextual theology; Consumerism;


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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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