Theological Perspectives on Place and Power

DATES

16-17 April and 14-15 May 2018

VENUE 

The module will be delivered in Birmingham

MODULE DESCRIPTION 

placeandpowerPlace and space are fundamental aspects of our daily experience and include the complex interaction of cultural, social, material and spiritual components. In human geography there has, since the 1970s, been a ‘cultural turn’ so that understandings of place are seen as fundamental to conceptions of identity, otherness, difference and marginalisation. Surprisingly, these developments are not in general well referenced in the various disciplines of theology, Biblical studies and mission studies; an omission which needs urgently to be redressed, especially if the Christian community is to develop a deeper understanding about how to engage in issues of deprivation and marginalisation in humanising, non-coercive ways.

This module will critically review the main theological approaches to place. It will show how reading of New Testament texts from the perspective of place can shed new light on the way that Biblical narratives portray Jesus’ ministry and subsequently the mission of the church as engaging with the ‘powers’. It will explore how Jesus’ presence evoked a new kind of spatiality – one which might be conceived of as a ‘redemptive place’ – and how, by drawing on contemporary notions of place, the experience of the Kingdom of God might be thought in terms of ‘third-space’.

Having established theological perspectives on place the module will explore how this enables us, through the application of ethnographic methods, to understand our own places more deeply and as a consequence how such understandings might critically shape our approach to mission. In particular we will investigate how the social construction of certain individuals and social groups as “out-of-place” has been seen to result in attempts to “purify” urban spaces via various forms of social exclusion and in the light of this we will use the lens of ‘redemptive place’ or ‘the kingdom as third space’ to critically review a number of contemporary approaches to mission.

For an informal conversation about study contact Mike Pears, Director of Urban Life, mpears@urbanlife.org

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