Divine Self-Enrichment and Human Well-Being: A Systematic Theological Inquiry, with Special Reference to Development and Humanitarian Aid

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Christian involvement in international development and humanitarian aid is prolific. It is premised on improving human well-being. With well-known notions of ‘love thy neighbour’ and a history and tradition of caring for the poor it seems obvious why churches and Christians are involved in ‘development’ and ‘humanitarian’ work. But is it that obvious? What is the rationale for Christian involvement in the contemporary dominant development paradigm, and not merely engagement in charity, preference for the poor, or liberation movements? As a secular agenda increasingly determines the development space, the question of what difference ‘faith’ makes to Christian faith-based development organisations (FBDOs) becomes both significant and urgent. Arguably many Christian FBDOs have acquiesced to secular pragmatic rationales to undergird the formulation of their work. Much less referenced is the role of theology as an explanatory and pragmatic influence. In many ways therefore FBDOs are devoid of the influence of ‘faith’, or more particularly, the influence of a robust theological foundation. This thesis addresses this deficit by locating a Christian rationale for human well-being in relation to the doctrine of the triune God. Specifically, this theological inquiry examines the triune God’s work in, and for, creation with a view to identifying the characteristics and dynamics of divine well-being through the intra-trinitarian movement of gift and receipt. This gifting and receiving within the Godhead is identified as ‘Divine self-enrichment’ — defined as God enriching God in the perfection and fullness of God. The mode through which Divine self-enrichment occurs is essentially kenotic. The thesis provides an extended inquiry into the theological logic of kenotic-enrichment, and its implications for human well-being. In particular, the thesis argues that the pattern of kenotic-enrichment is to be discerned in the dynamic economy of God in creation and human life. When humanity exhibits characteristics of kenotic-enrichment identified in the economic Trinity, there we see intimations of the work of God. In this sense, the archetype of divine enrichment is antecedently operative in the creation; where kenotic-enrichment conditions created well-being. The thesis, therefore, argues that a theology of triune self-enrichment provides an alternate, and complementary, theological paradigm for Christian rationale and praxis of international development and humanitarian aid.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Pickard, Stephen, Principal Supervisor
  • Cameron, Andrew, Co-Supervisor
Award date01 Aug 2018
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


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