The theology of place

One of the main books that underpins my project is John Inge’s A Christian Theology of Place. This quote sums up the main purpose of the whole project.

But just as God can be encountered in the person of Jesus Christ, the scandal of particularity, so he chooses to make humself known to humanity in and through particular places. These encounters, as all sacramental encounters, lead to a transformation of the place as well as the individuals and communities associated with them. The role of such places is to root believers in their faith and point them towards the redemption of all places in Christ.

Inge, J. (2003) A Christian Theology of Place p86

What do I take from this?

  • Encounters with Jesus Christ are central to Christianity
  • It is possible to meet God in a particular place
  • These encounters leave a mark on the place and the people
  • Let’s assume that our churches are all places where people have, in the past, met God
  • The purpose of our church buildings is therefore to take the fruit of these encounters and help others to find a firmer (stronger?, deeper?) faith.
  • Places of encounter with God are still earthly places and in need of redemption
  • This redemption comes through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ
  • Church buildings need, therefore, to point unequivocally towards Jesus Christ

Further thoughts

The concept of “redemption” is not well understood in the general population and needs unpacking and/or explaining.

Is the assumption that people have encountered God in our church buildings a valid assumption?

How can we share the stories of encounter with God with those who come into our church buildings during the week? Technology is our friend here – perhaps we can film some stories and have them ready to share.