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Perspectives from Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism

Christianity FAQ



  What Do Our Neighbors Believe?  

CHRISTIANITY Islam | Judaism
What places are important for the religion?
by Kendra Hotz

Christians acknowledge one God as creator of all that is and believe, therefore, that all things point toward their creator. The world, as John Calvin put it, “is the theatre of God’s glory.” For this reason any place may become the arena for God’s self-revelation and, in a sense, all places are sacred. Nevertheless, Christians recognize certain places where God has become known in special ways, and these places take on special significance for Christians.

The most important of these places is the space designated for the worship gathering of the community. Often Christians set aside a space, a sanctuary, which is used exclusively for worship. In other instances, the space may be used for other purposes when the congregation is not at worship. In the early church, and in many places throughout the world today, Christians gathered in members’ homes for worship. In all cases, the designated space is honored as the space where Christians gather to worship with the expectation that God will meet them in that place and become known to them as the scriptures are read and as the bread and cup of communion are shared.

Certain cities where central events in the history of the faith have taken place also hold special significance for Christians. Cities and towns where important events in Jesus’ life happened—such as Bethlehem where he was born, Nazareth where he was reared, and Jerusalem where he concluded his earthly ministry—have become pilgrimage sites.

Constantinople, now Istanbul, houses the ecumenical patriarch for the Eastern Orthodox churches. Rome, the seat of papal authority, is of special importance to Roman Catholics. Protestants look to Wittenburg, a city in Germany, where Martin Luther sparked the Protestant Reformation when he posted his famous “95 theses” on the church door, inviting debate about the nature and extent of papal authority.

Copyright ©2006 Kendra Hotz

Kendra G. Hotz serves as Adjunct Professor of Theology at Memphis Theological Seminary. She formerly taught at Calvin College. Hotz is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and coauthor (with Matthew T. Mathews) of Shaping the Christian Life: Worship and the Religious Affections (2006) and coauthor of Transforming Care: A Christian Vision of Nursing Practice (2005).

Excerpts from What Do Our Neighbors Believe?: Questions and Answers on Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Howard Greenstein, Kendra Hotz, and John Kaltner are used by permission from Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky. The book will be available for purchase in December 2006.


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