A Christian theology of place
The contention of this thesis is that place is much more important in human
experience and in the Christian scheme of things than is generally recognised.
I first survey the manner in which place has been progressively downgraded in
Western thought and practice in favour of a concentration upon space and time. I note
that during the latter part of the twentieth century scholars in a variety of disciplines have
suggested that place is much more important than this prevailing discourse would
suggest. Few theologians, however, recognise the importance of place. I suggest that, in
this respect, theologians owe more to the mores of modernity than to a thorough
engagement with the Christian scriptures and tradition.
Second, I embark upon such an engagement with the scriptures. My findings
suggest that their witness confirms that, from a Christian perspective, place is vital.
With this in mind, my third step is to propose that the best way of understanding
the role of place in a manner consonant with the Biblical narrative is sacramentally.
Fourth, I test this hypothesis by examining the Christian tradition's approach to
pilgrimage and investigate how it might be applied to holy places and churches in
Finally, I conclude that a renewed appreciation of place by theologians and
churchpeople, which their scriptures and tradition invite, would enable them to offer
much to a society still trapped in the paradigm of modernity which underestimates place,
with dehumanising effect.