Previous | Next

Fall 2001 · Vol. 30 No. 2 · pp. 184–98 

Ordered Cities: Christian Studies and Geography

Greg Epp

I sit on the banks of the Jordan River. In front of me is the land of Canaan: a land which promises prosperity, identity, and freedom. But it is also a land full of Canaanites who are expert warriors and whose numbers are significantly greater than mine. To my back is wilderness. One glance behind conjures up memories of God’s faithfulness: rocks from which I received water, manna I ate, a column of cloud which lead during the day and a pillar of fire at night. The wilderness was a place secluded from other tribes, cultures and beliefs. It was a safe place, a place of community, a place where God established a relationship with a fragmented people and taught us how to live. Looking ahead, across the river, is like taking a step backward. Life must now be redefined. Just as the wilderness land has defined who I am, so too will the land ahead shape and form me into a new kind of person. It is no wonder that I stopped here on the edge of the banks of the Jordan to reflect. After all, deciding to cross or not to cross this river will define who I will become.

Only by recognizing the gift, temptation, task, and threat of land can a community be properly ordered under God and experience the power of the Holy Spirit to bring renewal and hope.

A decision to cross the Jordan River or to stay on its banks is, metaphorically speaking, a decision that faces each of us. Going to university for the first time was a decision that I found very difficult. {185} Behind me were many years in which my parents had supported me, molding and shaping me into the person they wanted me to be. But the thought of living on my own would test everything that I had been taught. How would I live apart from them? What kind of person would I become?

In the same way, planners of urban communities are faced with much the same decision—only on a much larger scale. Governments change, the economy fluctuates, interest rates rise and fall, and previous land uses are replaced with new ones. All of these factors have an impact on the order and structure of urban land. Urban planners are challenged to understand, recognize, and manage these changes so as to secure the economical, social, and physical health, wealth, and well-being of the city.

The purpose of this essay is to bring my university degrees in Geography and Christian Studies together in order that my life might reflect integrity and truth as I employ my skills as a Christian geographer. The thesis which I propose is that an integrative approach to Geography and Christian Studies is normative to work as a Christian geographer. That is to say that either a Christianity that talks about God and not about land, or a Geography which talks about land and not about God, is defective and counterfeit.

The scope of this essay will focus on one specific element of each degree: Urban Studies, in the case of Geography, and a biblical perspective of land which is seen throughout Israel’s history, for Christian Studies. The method by which I wish to develop this argument begins with a definition of geography and a description of its major underpinnings. Next, I will explain the common foundation of both disciplines with respect to their epistemology and their notion of community. This will be followed by a conversation between the biblical interpretation of land and a geographical interpretation of land. More specifically, these two worldviews will be examined in terms of land as gift, temptation, task, and threat. Interwoven in the biblical interpretation of land will be contemporary examples of how land is used (or abused) and proposals for remedying land-related problems. I will conclude with a Christian worldview of land to demonstrate how land should be viewed as a Christian geographer living in community both with humankind and with the earth.


The task of defining geography is a bit like four blind men trying to describe an elephant while each is touching a different part. The study of {186} geography overlaps the study of history, economics, sociology, politics, psychology, environmental studies, international development studies, and so on. A classical definition of geography reinforces its diversity. The word geography was originally penned by the ancient scholar Eratosthenes and is based on the words geo, which means “earth,” and graphein, which means “to write” (Rubenstein, xiii). Therefore, geography is writings about the earth.

Geography can be divided into two groups: Physical Geography and Cultural or Human Geography. Physical Geography studies the distribution of physical features, such as climate, soil, and vegetation. In this sense, it is a natural science. On the other hand, the study of cultural features such as language, industries, and cities is a social science. My own area of focus is Cultural Geography, more specifically Urban Studies. By definition, Urban Studies is the study of cities or towns and their social and economic characteristics. In the past few years I have studied land assignment, the urban land market, inner-city poverty, inner-city decay, urban sprawl, and zoning within a North American context. It is this geographical background which I bring to my Christian Studies degree.


On the surface, Urban Studies and Christian Studies appear to be vastly different. One talks about cities while the other talks about God. Yet both disciplines draw their lifeblood from two common sources: epistemology and community. Urban Studies and Christian Studies are similar in the way in which they understand knowledge and the way in which this knowledge is used to secure the health, wealth, and well-being of cities.

Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that deals with the origins, foundations, and nature of knowledge. Bernard Lonergan, a Roman Catholic philosopher and theologian who served as a teacher to bishops during Vatican II, offers a system by which the epistemologies of Urban Studies and Christian Studies may be compared. Lonergan says that “all conscious and intentional operations of knowing occur by means of a dynamic interlocking pattern of experiencing, understanding, judging, and deciding” (Vertin, 1-36). This is what Lonergan calls our conscious intentionality.

Lonergan explains that the first stage in knowing is experiencing. This empirical level of consciousness is characterized by operations of both the external and internal senses. External senses involve seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting. The internal senses include {187} perceiving, imagining, anticipating, feeling and remembering (Vertin, 1-36). After experiencing comes the intellectual level of consciousness he calls understanding. This level is characterized by inquiry, insight, and conceptualizing.

Following this is the rational level of consciousness characterized by reflecting, grasping the evidence, and judging to test whether our understanding is in fact correct. The last level of consciousness is the responsible level, characterized by deliberating, evaluating, and deciding about what good action ought to be done. Lonergan goes on to say that “we are impelled to move from one level of consciousness to the next by wonder, by our intellectual curiosity, by means of that inborn human need to find answers to questions” (Lonergan, 213). Intellectual curiosity can be illustrated by the diversity of course offerings in a university course catalogue. A pursuit of knowledge and understanding is evident in the abundance of disciplines from Geography to Physics. But absolute knowledge is beyond our grasp.

Lonergan, who is primarily concerned with Christian theology, insists that unconditioned truth (God’s truth) is beyond our ability to know (Lonergan, 213). It is impossible for us to grasp all knowledge because not all the possible questions have been answered. We can only reasonably affirm what is true. What is reached by the process of experiencing, understanding, judging, and deciding is not absolute certainty but is knowledge about truth. It is truth but only a portion of it. Therefore, Lonergan says that the process of experiencing, understanding, and judging is a process of self-transcendence whereby we recognize that what we know is shaped by how we know. Consequently our comprehension of truth is conditioned by the way we learn what we know.


Salah Hathout, Professor of Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems at the University of Winnipeg, writes that at an epistemological level, Geography measures, determines the meaning of, monitors, and manages aspects of the earth’s phenomena (Hathout). In order to understand this process, one can look at a hypothetical example of zoning.

One of the biggest problems plaguing urban planners in North America is the problem of improper development and control of urban land. Zoning is a legal act dictating how urban land is used. An example is the dictation of land use where a smelting plant, which is polluting the air, is located next to a fine textile mill, which needs a clean environment free of airborne pollutants. These conflicting land uses challenge urban {188} planners to determine how best to resolve the problem.

Gathering a sample of soot-stained cloth from the textile mill (measuring or gaining empirical evidence) is the first step in approaching this problem. The second step is to determine the meaning of the problem. It is essential to determine that the cloths were stained because of soot emanating from the smoke stacks of the smelting plant. The third stage is to monitor the problem. Over time, periodic samples of cloth from the textile mill may show traces of pollutants from the smelting plant. Evidence of the effects of airborne pollutants on cloth must be given in order to confirm the hypothesis that it is in fact the smelting plant that is damaging cloth in the textile mill. If in fact there is evidence demonstrating that the smelting plant is staining the cloth, urban planners must then decide how to manage this problem. One possible answer is to ask those who operate the textile mill to relocate their business at some expense to the smelting plant.

This process of measuring, determining the meaning of, monitoring, and managing a problem aligns with Lonergan’s model of conscious intentionality. In both cases knowing is accomplished by gathering empirical evidence, conceptualizing this evidence by way of intellectual consciousness which is then judged by the rational consciousness. A decision is reached by way of the responsible level of consciousness. The process of conscious intentional operations is similar both for an Urban Studies model and for the Christian Studies approach to knowledge.


A second similarity between Geography and Christianity is community, a term rich with meaning. It is therefore important to understand its definition in light of both Urban Studies and Christian Studies.

The biblical view of community can best be represented by the word shalom. Although traditionally translated “peace,” the connotations of this term are actually much broader than the absence of hostilities. Shalom refers to the peace that can only be the result of a properly ordered community. According to prophetic preaching, wholeness or completeness can only be achieved in the absence of sin and evil (Nel, 132).

One of the best examples of shalom is found in Genesis 1:26 where God says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. . . . .” (NIV). All of humanity is created for community because God’s very being constitutes community. God says that humankind is created in our image and in our likeness. God’s very nature is characterized by love and {189} communication between the persons of the Trinity. Furthermore, the notion of Adam living by himself was deemed not good. God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18 NIV), so God made a partner corresponding to him: Eve. And Adam and Eve experienced community in the garden.

It is also important to point out that a community ordered in shalom is not only a community in proper relationship to one another, but also a community in proper relationship to the environment. Lonergan says that the process of knowing involves both an inner and outer response. It not only means deciding what is good but also acting on what has been decided. He goes on to say that “it is because of this human/earth relationship that we are not only individually responsible for the lives we lead but we are also collectively responsible for the world in which we lead them” (Lonergan, 93, 115). For Lonergan, being in love with God or with others in shalom is a prerequisite for being in love with the earth (Lonergan, 229). The shalom community is comprised of those who are in love with God, in love with humankind, and in love with the environment.


Urban planning has a similar goal. Urban planning can be defined as “the planning of scientific, aesthetic, and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities, and services with a view to secure the physical, economic, and social efficiency, health, and well-being of urban and rural communities” (Helm). Despite the fact that Urban Studies defines community amorally or without the order that shalom gives, the goal is a community living in harmony as expressed in physical, social, and economic well-being. This concern can be seen through the history of urban planning. Urban planners such as Ebenezer Howard, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Day Omstead are a few examples of persons who have creatively planned utopian cities during the postindustrial era.

One of the most famous of these planners is Le Corbusier (1887-1965), founder of the contemporary city movement. This movement sought to deal with the decaying inner city of Paris by completely renovating the urban area. In order to accomplish urban renewal, Le Corbusier advocated (a) mass transit improvements, (b) the construction of skyscrapers and superblocks so that land could be used more intensively, and (c) surrounding these superblocks with single family homes to counter urban decay.

The end result of Le Corbusier’s contemporary city movement was failure. This was due to the fact that the structures he created took on a {190} totalitarian form and proved unsuitable for the land around them. However, despite this failure, a better understanding of the processes involved in urban renewal was gained. Le Corbusier’s method of renewal addresses the physical problem of decay but other methods address social decay.

The broken-window theory of George Kelling and James Wilson is a useful model for explaining how social problems can be solved. Kelling and Wilson discovered that if a broken window in a building was left unrepaired, other windows were quickly knocked out. Kelling and Wilson concluded that damage left untended sends a message that no one cares, that no one is in charge and that further vandalism will incur with no penalty.

A good example of this is Bryant Park in New York City. What was once a haven for drug dealers and other lawbreakers became a crime-free tourist attraction. Citizens of nearby neighborhoods decided to form an association and lease the park from the city. After doing so, they tore down iron fencing, high hedges and other barriers which made easy hiding places for criminals. They also remodeled restrooms and kept them clean and safe. Fountains and flower beds were added, and unarmed security guards patrolled the area.

In a similar way, the process of creating harmony out of disunity is the aim of urban renewal. But even though Urban Studies experiences successes along the way, its approach to urban problems is incomplete. Urban Studies fails to take into consideration the root of shalom. That is, Urban Studies fails to understand that harmony is only the result of a community that is properly ordered under God.


The following discussion investigates four clashes between geographical and Christian worldviews in order to highlight the inadequacies of a godless geographical worldview. According to biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann, “Land is a central, if not the central theme of biblical faith” (Brueggemann, 3). The integration between Christian faith and Geography can be seen early in the Bible’s creation account where God creates humankind in his own image in order that they might rule over all the earth (Gen. 1:26). Humankind was not only created to rule over the earth but also to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28; Acts 17:26).

Brueggemann unpacks the meaning of Genesis 1:26 by describing a view of land as seen by the Israelites in the Old Testament. He discusses four views of land: land as gift, as temptation, as task, and as threat. {191} These views should be understood as a series of interlocking blocks that form a solid biblical foundation for how one is to use land.

The Land as Gift

The first facet of a biblical worldview of land is viewing land as a gift from God. The history of land as gift begins with the covenant promise from God to Abram:

I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you. (Gen. 12:2-3 NIV)

In this passage, there is no hint of achievement in the promise. Five times God says “I will.” The destiny of the people of Israel relied solely on their relationship with God. Brueggemann says, “Israel cannot and does not and need not secure its existence for itself” (Brueggemann, 48). While still in the wilderness, Israel received manna, quail, and water. But now God was giving them greater gifts. Now God promised cities, houses, cisterns, vineyards, and trees. The Hebrew word goy is translated as nation (Block, 966). This is the same word that is used in Genesis 10:5 to describe how the sons of Javan were spread throughout the land. The word goy usually has overtones of territorial or governmental unity or national identity with a land all its own (Block, 966).

Deuteronomy 8:7-10 cites specific implications of God’s covenant with Israel:

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you. (NRSV) {192}

In both of these cases, land is a gift given from God to his people. There is nothing that Israel can do to earn it. The Promised Land is freely given by God.

By contrast, urban planners approach land quite differently. Land use in North America is defined in terms of individual ownership or property rights. Much of current thinking about land use and property rights has been shaped by the seventeenth century philosopher John Locke. Locke claimed that ownership of property is the most important of three inherent God-given rights, the other two rights being the right to life and the right to liberty (Long Jr., 49). Only now are we seeing the fallacy in this statement.

The individual’s right to own and manage land often contributes to an imbalance of power and privilege within a community. An example of this can be seen by the recent actions of a land owner in Essex County, Ontario. The land owner requested a zoning variance from the municipal government to construct a golf course on his wooded lot. When the municipal government refused, the land owner was angry about the infringement on his property rights. He then independently clear cut several acres of prime wooded property.

Much effort had been put into maintaining forested areas in Essex County due to the fact that it has one of the lowest percentages of forest cover in all of Canada. The deforestation of land has dramatic effects on the environment. Deforestation causes increased levels of carbon dioxide since trees and other vegetation are known to absorb this gas. Deforestation also affects the local climate by reducing the evaporative cooling that soil and plant life perform in the environment. Less evaporation means that more of the sun’s energy is able to warm the earth’s surface and, consequently, the air above leads to a rise in temperature. Furthermore, deforestation decreases biodiversity, the number of plant and animal species in an area.

In any case, the local community responded in outrage to the destruction of the land owner’s wooded lot. This is a sad example of how individual property rights, exercised as uninhibited rights to land ownership and management, are detrimental to the well-being to the community as a whole.

The Land as Temptation

The view of land as temptation also provides people with dangerous alternatives. Brueggemann says that land which is the source of life has the power to seduce (Brueggemann, 53). It could seduce Israel into entering a life apart from Yahweh. This can be done by securing its existence {193} by surrounding itself with so much material wealth that it loses sight of the ultimate Creator and Gift Giver. The only tools that Israel had to resist this temptation were memory and obedience to the covenant.

Deuteronomy 6:12 says, “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (NIV). By not remembering Yahweh and creating a life outside the covenant, Israel would no longer live under grace but become controller and manager of its own destiny and achievement. Not remembering would mean breaking the covenant relationship with God. If Israel would develop this orientation, then God would be intolerant and bring destruction upon them:

If you do forget the Lord your God and follow other gods to serve and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you will surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord is destroying before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God. (Deut. 8:19-20 NRSV)

The concept of land as temptation is also evident in modern society. North American cities have experienced capitalistic development. By strict definition, capitalism involves the complete separation of economy and state, just like the separation of church and state (University of Berkeley). Capitalism is a social system based on private ownership by means of production which entails a completely uncontrolled and unregulated economy where all land is privately owned. Urban planners regularly see the fallout of the capitalistic concept of land as temptation. This occurs when developers buy up large tracks of land around the periphery of a city and then construct commercial and residential buildings speculating that other development will follow.

These developments occur at the expense of riper (vacant yet more expensive) land that is located closer to the city center. Little consideration is given to its effect on the inner city. The result is urban sprawl. When other development does occur, developers receive huge capital gains on their speculation, but the costs to the city and to taxpayers are enormous. Taxpayers must pay for the provision of roads, utilities and emergency service despite the fact that there is vacant land closer to the city-center. Therefore, the consequence of land as temptation is to get caught up in wealth, to forget about the broader society, and ultimately to forget God.

The Land as Task

Thirdly, with land comes responsibility. From the moment that the Israelites enter the Promised Land there are conditions. Joshua 1:7-8 says, {194}

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded you; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success. (RSV)

Joshua says that honoring the Torah will lead to “success” and “prosperity.” Success and prosperity according to Torah law come with three conditions (Brueggemann, 62-67). First, Israel is to have no other gods except Yahweh. Second, Israel is to maintain the covenant relationship with Yahweh by managing the land but refusing to possess it. Both of these points are intertwined. If one fully controls the land then it is easy to imagine that the land has been generated by the community and can be used for its own purposes. This is not only idolatry, but it abuses the land and everything on it.

The third aspect of Torah law is the Jubilee Year. The Jubilee year sets a boundary to our best, most intensive efforts to manage life and organize land for our security and well-being. It is a reminder that land is given for our use and not for our ownership. The Jubilee year implies that human society does not rest on buying, selling, owning, or collecting, but it rests on God’s faithfulness to his people. Keeping the Jubilee means land returned to its original owner (Lev. 25) and the canceling of debts (Deut. 15:1-15). Therefore, Jubilee is a way of protecting the people who are exploited or oppressed through the structures that people create.

On the other hand, Urban Geography tends to be driven by capitalism and the economy, and geographers have seen the problems that this has on urban land. One such problem is poverty and homelessness in the inner city. The paradox is that the poor live on the most expensive land: slums situated amongst skyscrapers. The poor cannot afford the same transportation costs as the rich who work in the inner city, commuting from the suburbs in the outlying area. The poor are forced to live in compact, subdivided housing in the inner city in order to compete with the commuters for accessibility to employment. Attempts have been made by geographers to remedy this problem but with little success.

The deterioration of urban neighborhoods is aggravated by blockbusting and redlining. Blockbusting occurs when a real estate agent buys {195} a residential property in a middle class neighborhood and rents it to a low socioeconomic family or to members of an ethnic minority in order to bring down the value of houses around it (Rubenstein, 527). The effect of this is the availability of more land to sell and make a profit from. Redlining refers to lines drawn on maps by banks indicating which areas they refuse to loan money to (Rubenstein, 527). As a result, families who are trying to fix up their homes have difficulty borrowing money. This eventually leads to the house being condemned. The list of land use abuses in urban settings goes on. But the idea of viewing land as task speaks to these issues and calls one back to Torah law.

The Land as Threat

The fourth view is viewing land as threat. Land threatens our way of thinking and our way of life. For Israel, it seemed crazy to enter the land of Canaan. Their explorers described it as

a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim); and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. (Num. 13:32-33 RSV)

God had promised Israel this land, yet they still wanted to settle for something short of the Promised Land. The only way in which Israel could enter the land was by utter trust in Yahweh. Only then were they able to conquer the Canaanites and fulfill the covenant that Yahweh had given them.

Urban geographers try to solve urban problems by measuring the problem, determining the meaning of the problem, monitoring the problem, and managing the problem. This methodology of understanding is similar to Lonergan’s, except for the fact that Lonergan says unconditioned truth is beyond our grasp of knowing. Geography does well to employ these steps to solve urban problems. However, Brueggemann uses these four facets of land to say that humanity cannot solve urban problems on its own.


After reviewing Brueggemann’s work with land in the Bible, it is apparent that urban geographers cannot adequately resolve urban problems with a godless approach to urban development. One is then left to ask two questions. First of all, how can I become a better geographer by {196} integrating Geography and Christian Studies? And second, what does Christian Studies have to offer Geography?

First of all, it is important to note that one does not need to be a Christian geographer to be a good geographer. There are many geographers who know more about the biblical worldview of land than some Christians. However, a Christian geographer has values which are essential to Geography. As noted at the beginning of this essay, both a Christianity that talks about God and not about land, and a Geography which talks about land and not about God, are defective and incomplete. Geography by itself fails to acknowledge that the world is ordered under God not humanity.

This problem is best explained using C. S. Lewis’s analogy of “men without chests.” In order for Geography to adequately address urban problems, the “ ‘head,’ or the seat of reason, must rule the ‘stomach,’ or the passion through the ‘chest,’ which is one’s will or moral imagination” (Lewis, 35). This means that in many cases, the right answer is known, for example, that exploitation of land is wrong. Yet there is no desire or will to follow this, the head’s convictions.

Again, it is important to emphasis that not all non-Christian Geographers desire to do what is wrong. However, when a person devotes his or her life to serving God, the Holy Spirit empowers them to do what he or she cannot do alone. This is at the heart of Christianity. The Holy Spirit not only provides Christians with the knowledge of right, it also gives Christians the power to do it.

By the same token, a Christianity that does not concern itself with Geography is also inadequate. Christians are called not only to a relationship with God and with others but also with the land. A Christianity that does not acknowledge this fact does not ground itself in God’s law. Such a rejection of the responsibility or task which comes with living on the land jeopardizes shalom.

Second, one thing that Christian geographers offer that secular geographers cannot offer is hope. Indeed, there are many problems with cities, but the reversal of their destruction can only be achieved by God’s response in light of our action. There is no disputing the fact that humankind has the responsibility of following God’s law. But the end result of following God’s law may not always be rewarding. One could list examples of people or organizations which have tried to live according to God’s laws and still experienced failure. And it is in the midst of failure and loss that God works best.

Brueggemann says that “things which seem hopeless. . . . .are the very region of God’s new action” (Brueggemann, 133). Jeremiah 30:18-19 {197} says that love everlasting abides when temple, city, and king are all gone. The only thing which remains is God’s covenant. Therefore, humanity resides in the tension of living out God’s commandments and experiencing God’s grace in the midst of a world under Satan’s rule. By no means does this mean that God cannot work on earth. God’s gift of land to the Israelites is an example of God overturning evil to accomplish good. However, it does mean that humanity will not experience the complete fullness of God’s kingdom here on earth. For only God can judge how his kingdom is revealed on earth. Therefore, the task of humanity is to put their trust in the eternal Creator who has the power to bring hope out of hopelessness.


A biblical perspective on land reconstructs our own ideas of how the land should be and dismantles the structures that we create in order to restore creation to the way that it was intended to be. Each facet of Brueggemann’s biblical theology of land illuminates the human desire to be like God and reorders humanity to its rightful place under God. By not viewing land as gift, one is lured into thinking that land can be owned. Similarly, by not recognizing the temptation that comes with land, one is ignorant of the power land has in seducing one into thinking that humanity can make a life for itself apart from Yahweh. Furthermore, by not accepting the responsibility or task that comes with land, one may think it is morally right to exploit land and everything on it. And finally, not viewing land as threat persuades one to think that humanity can manage land as well as, if not better than, God.

Each of these fallacies reflects our desire to become like God. Our desire to become like God is the same desire that caused Adam and Eve to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:1-7). This initial sin not only separated humankind from God but also affected all creation including the environment (Gen. 3:17-19). In order to reverse this process, humanity must order itself under God as God intended. Only then will humanity experience shalom.

In conclusion, an integrative approach to Geography and Christian Studies is normative to Christian faith. This discussion has revealed that although Geography shares a common foundation of epistemology and community with Christian Studies, by itself it is inadequate for creating a truly harmonious community. Only by recognizing the gift, temptation, task, and threat of land can a community be properly ordered under God and experience the power of the Holy Spirit to bring renewal and hope. {198}

Again I stand on the banks of the River Jordan. Behind me are four years of Christian university life which have been like the manna or quails of the Israelites, nurturing me to the person that I would become. Ahead of me is uncertainty. The giants of the future are large and numerous and my own tendencies to own and manage infect every part of my being. But amidst all of this uncertainty there is a strong inner cry, a cry to remain faithful and obedient to God, the Author and Creator of the earth.


  • Block, Daniel I. 1997. Nations/nationality. In New international dictionary of Old Testament theology and exegesis, vol. 4, 966-72. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • Brueggemann, Walter. 1946. The land. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress.
  • Hathout, Salah. 2000. Introduction to remote sensing and geographic information systems. Durban, South Africa: Premier Publishing House [CD-ROM].
  • Helm, Christine. 2000. Canadian institute of planners [database on-line] (Ottawa, ON, accessed 12 January 2000); available from; Internet.
  • Lewis, C. S. 1947. The abolition of man. New York: Macmillan.
  • Lonergan, Bernard. 1972. A second collection, ed. William F. J. Ryan and Bernard Tyrell. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster.
  • Long, Edward LeRoy, Jr. 1997. To liberate and redeem: Moral reflections on the biblical narrative. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim.
  • Nel, Philip J. 1997. SLM. In New international dictionary of Old Testament theology and exegesis, vol. 4, 130-35. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
  • Rubenstein, James M. 1994. The cultural landscape: An introduction to human geography. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • University of Berkeley. 2000. Open Computing Facility [database on-line] (Berkeley CA, accessed 10 December 2000); available from; Internet.
  • Vertin, Michael. 1994. Lonergan on consciousness: Is there a fifth level? Method: Journal of Lonergan Studies 12, no. 2 (1994): 1-36.
The original version of this essay was written for Concord College’s capstone course, Senior Integrative Seminar. Students enrolled in this class are asked to integrate their Christian faith with their university education so as to bring integrity and truth to all parts of life.
Greg Epp recently graduated from Concord College with a Bachelor of Christian Studies degree, and got his B.A. from the University of Winnipeg with a major in Geography. His future goals are to complete a one-year Geographical Information Systems certificate and to work as an urban planner at the municipal level.

Previous | Next