Towards A Politics of the Pure in Heart: Theological Reflections on Identities in Tension in Zambia

  • Keith Scott

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This work is a search for a theology which will offer a resource capable of informing the church's mission in Zambia as it engages with the particular problem of identity.

The theology which we will attempt to construct is what Robert Schreiter terms a “local theology”, a means of making the church's missionary response to the Good News “as concrete and as lively as possible”5. Our method is therefore a contextual method, coming to an understanding of the specific circumstances of Zambian life and formulating our theology as a second act. We will discuss the issues raised by this method below. First, however, we will make some effort to clarify the thesis we propose to test.

Any analysis of a society requires an interpretive perspective. A fuller discussion of the need for and the difficulties raised by any such perspective takes place below. We
will for the moment simply state that as our interests are in the area of conflict and identity we have chosen to found our understanding of the conflicts in Zambia upon the work of René Girard. We do so in the initial belief that Girard's work, which is focused upon conflict and identity formation, will provide an effective and appropriate means to come to an adequate understanding of the conflicted aspects of Zambian life. This, however, cannot be simply stated and passed over; it is part of our thesis and must also be tested. Our method of constructing theology entails that our theology
emerges out of our understanding of the context. Our choice of Girard's work as a foundation upon which to build our understanding of Zambia inevitably shapes the theological outcomes. We therefore state our thesis as follows: it is possible to construct an adequate and effective theology based upon an adequate and effective understanding of the conflicted aspects of Zambian society based upon the “revelatory
anthropology”6 of René Girard. We shall attempt to assess how far we have proved this to be a valid thesis towards the end of this work.

In the course of exploring this thesis we shall ask a number of questions as to how the identity of Zambia as a nation arose, the tensions which have strained that identity in the early years of the 21st century, the ability of that identity to resist those
tensions and where, should Zambia continue along the path we discern, those tensions will lead in the short to medium term future. Prior to exploring these questions there are a number of further matters which we must clarify, the first of these being the nexus of issues related to doing theology.
Date of AwardSept 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorJacob Thomas (Supervisor) & Ian Dickson (Supervisor)

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