Development as religious and secular concept

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Title: Development as religious and secular concept
Author: Österinen, Kaisu
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Teologinen tiedekunta, Systemaattisen teologian laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology, Department of Systematic Theology
Helsingfors universitet, Teologiska fakulteten, Institutionen för systematisk teologi
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2016
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: The Religious Roots of Europe
The Religious Roots of Europe
The Religious Roots of Europe
Abstract: This study looks at the way in which the good works inspired by religious motives are related to the secular understanding of development. The aim is to better understand how development workers with religious worldview define the concept of development and how their faith influences their thinking. Faith is understood as the source of values based on which the ideas of development are shaped. The task is approached by interviewing the Finnish staff members of a Pentecostal development organization, Fida International. Their staff members’ understanding of development is studied. Development as a religious concept is formulated based on the interviews. The background chapters give the context of the study by introducing the debate and connections between the concepts of religion and development. Also an introduction of the capability approach developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum is provided since in this study it represents the secular understanding of development. The key concepts of the approach: functionings, agency and development are used to analyze how religious values influence the understanding of development. Chapter four introduces the research material, the methods and the process of analysis. The data consist of 16 interviews carried out in East Africa by the author in the spring of 2016. In chapter five the results of the analysis are presented. The valued functionings that emerge from faith were: fulfilling God’s call, living out one’s faith, deliverance and trusting God, spiritual growth, freedom from guilt through God’s forgiveness and mercy, and achieving balance and harmony. The results are brought together to formulate a definition of development as religious concept. Chapter six reflects on the results in relation to the literature focusing on the religious perception of development. The elements that faith brings to the secular understanding of development are intertwined around the holistic approach in which the economic, political, social and spiritual dimensions of development cannot be viewed separately. Therefore, the relationship between God and the human becomes central. The human finds his ultimate purpose and thus the aim of development within God in his Kingdom. Therefore, faith widens the time perspective of development from this life into eternity. According to the interviewees of the study God has called the human to love him by loving his neighbors. Solidarity, equality and just world become the aim of development within the time frame of this life. To reach there, to have Shalom in this life already, was seen as too idealistic. Therefore, the aim of the man-made development process within this time frame emerges with the ultimate aim of development, the life in God’s Kingdom in the eternity.
Subject: capability approach
religious worldview

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