Original Research

Theological basis of community development: A public inquiry from a practical theological view

Patrick Nanthambwe
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 44, No 1 | a2750 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v44i1.2750 | © 2023 Patrick Nanthambwe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 October 2022 | Published: 09 March 2023

About the author(s)

Patrick Nanthambwe, Unit for Reformed Theology and Development in South Africa, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Development has become a central topic in theological discussions on a global scale. Poverty and underdevelopment have been the subject of ongoing discussion in theological circles over the role of the churches in addressing these issues. Hence, the controversy regarding theology and progress has emerged. While it has been widely understood in theological discussions that theology must confront public challenges, few works have evaluated the grounds that compel a theological reflection on development. To this purpose, there is a crucial point that must be investigated about theology and development: how substantial are the arguments for the theology and development debate? Furthermore, how are such arguments biblically supported? This essay evaluates the arguments for a theology of development through the lens of public practical theology in order to provide answers to the problems posed above. Through literary analysis, the study proceeds to analyse the basis for theology and development from a biblical perspective, so demonstrating that God’s aim for his creation is development that strikes a balance between economic, environmental, and social elements. This article contributes to the conversation of the necessity of theological reflection on development.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article contributes to the discussion between theological disciplines and development studies to provide a greater understanding of the significance of this debate to the church’s engagement with public issues such as development. The findings of this study are unquestionably valuable for churches in developing a public practical theology and enriching theological thought and church practice through community development.


theology; theology and development; development; community development; public practical theology; church


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