Theology of Poverty


This course is primarily designed for MBA students in Eastern University’s School for Leadership and Development but is cross-listed as a Palmer Theological Seminary course as well.  The goal of the course is to give current and future church leaders and development practitioners a broad frame of reference on Christians’ involvement in poverty-alleviation and development efforts around the world.  We will study the history and “theology of poverty” in dialogue with the field of development studies and its constituent social scientific approaches.  The course will encourage reflection about the interrelationship of spirituality, worship, and the challenge of poverty.  We will trace the history and theology of the church’s responses to poverty beginning with the early church and extending to the contemporary period.  The geographical and policy focus is on poverty outside the United States.  Domestic poverty concerns are addressed in other Palmer Theological Seminary courses.  This course will include one full day field trip to the United Nations in New York City to discuss many of the topics of the course with persons who work at the United Nations – religious NGOs, denominational representatives, the United Nations Development Program, and others.  This is required of all participants in the course. 


Daniel G. Groody. Globalization, Spirituality, and Justice. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2008.  Admittedly, the title of this book is one with a very large scope.  The issues Groody deals with, however, suit the content of this course very well.

Bryant Myers. Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development. Second edition.  Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1999.  This book has been widely read by evangelical development practitioners around the world in the decade since it was published. * A revised edition of this book is scheduled for release in November 2011.  It was previously scheduled for release in July 2011.

Claire E. Wolfteich. Lord, Have Mercy: Praying for Justice with Conviction and Humility. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 2006.  Although mostly written with an eye toward the North American context, this text offers a unique approach to the challenge of poverty and justice;  Wolfteich asks how one ought best pray in light of particular cases of injustice. 

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