Infinite God, Finite Resources (2011)

A Wellington Theological Consortium’s 2011 Colloquium, held at St John’s in the City, Saturday 6 August 2011.

Papers presented

 ‘The environmental crisis’, by Raymond Pelly

Approaches the environmental crisis that we as world citizens face from three angles: biblical, political and theological/ethical.

‘Economic Growth, Biophysical Limits & Christian Ethics’, by Jonathan Boston

This session explores recent debates among ecologists and economists over the nature of our planet’s biophysical limits and the implications of these limits for economic growth and human activities. In particular, is exponential economic growth possible on a finite planet? It then considers the contribution of key Christian doctrines and ethical imperatives to this debate, and offers some reflections on how Christian thinking might help inform the choices facing humanity.

Jonathan Boston is Professor of Public Policy in the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington. During 2008-11 he was director of the Institute of Policy Studies. He has published widely in the fields of public management, tertiary education, social policy, comparative government, New Zealand politics, and climate change policy, including 27 books and over 180 journal articles and book chapters. Recent books include Public Policy: Why Ethics Matters (Canberra, ANU E Press, 2010), and Ethics and Public Policy: Contemporary Issues (Wellington, Victoria University Press, 2011), both co-edited with Andrew Bradstock and David Eng.

Growth, justice, and development’, Gerard Burns

The presentation looks at those three concepts and practices, some examples of growth and development, and the possibilities for an economic system that operates justly.

Gerard Burns is a member of the board of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Catholic agency for justice, peace and international aid. As an ordained priest he has ministered in New Zealand, South America and Timor Leste. He is presently engaged in ministry among Maori and in administration work in the archdiocese of Wellington.  He has a Masters degree in international relations and has particular interests in the Christian contribution to political, social and economic development.

The economy of God and Jesus’ missional imperatives’, Gavin Drew

Broadly considers the economic imperatives for followers of Jesus entailed in Jesus’ self-understanding and missional trajectory to which the New Testament – framed by the Tanakh – bears witness, and indicates what those imperatives might mean for the practice and prophetic witness of local congregations.

Gavin Drew is a member of the Wellington Theological Consortium Council. He has degrees in theology, philosophy, and religious studies, and professional qualifications in education. He works part-time as an adult literacy tutor with Literacy Aotearoa, and undertakes voluntary work for a number of enterprises.

Panel discussion & Closing

The colloquium closed with a panel discussion featuring Lisa Beech, Petrus Simons, Simon Smelt, Charles Waldegrave

Lisa Beech is Research and advocacy coordinator at Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand. Her work includes applying principles of Catholic social teaching to current social and political issues.  This can take the form of Catholic submissions to Select Committees, drafting statements for the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference on social justice issues, or working with people in parishes who are considering how to take action on issues which concern them.  She also writes the annual Social Justice Week booklet and material for parishes.  Prior to working for Caritas, her background included a wide range of community work with low-income workers and beneficiaries, and study in music and journalism.

Petrus Simons was born in 1938 in Zeeland-Flanders. He worked in a trading company for 11 years until, in 1967, he migrated to New Zealand. He studied at Victoria University, Wellington, and worked as an economist from 1972-2003.  In 2007 he was awarded a PhD in philosophy at North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa, on a thesis ‘Tilling the good earth; the impact of technicism and economism on agriculture’. He is a Lutheran and married with two children.

Simon Smelt grew up in central London.  He came to faith through his first wife, Roselynn, a New Zealander with whom he moved to New Zealand in 1986.  He married Jane after Roselynn’s death.  Simon has degrees in economics and sociology and a PhD from the London School of Economics. He is an economic consultant who has worked with various government agencies, the Australian National University, and the World Bank.

Charles Waldegrave is an Anglican priest and psychologist.  He is one of the three cultural Coordinators at the Family Centre and leads the Social Policy Research Unit there. He is a joint leader of a number of large research programmes including the New Zealand Poverty Measurement Project and the New Zealand Longitudinal Study of Ageing.  He has published extensively in social policy and therapeutic journals in New Zealand and internationally.