Heroes of the Faith

Sacred places 'signposts to sacred nature of life'

Nigel Jackson considers the life and writings of Martin Palmer, a notable explorer of the significance of the sacred in Britain and in China.

By Nigel Jackson

September 9 2019Pilgrimage and the sacred: these are two of the fundamental aspects of religion generally and of Christianity in particular. My admiration of, and gratitude to, writer, theologian and broadcaster Martin Palmer (an Anglican born in 1953) began with his best-selling book The Sacred History of Britain (2002).

This has several aspects: historical, literary and geographical, as well as theological. He provides a painstaking account of the ups and downs of the island peoples and their various modes of practising religion throughout the centuries.

In one important respect Palmer deviates from orthodoxy in that he is a follower of Pelagius, the Romano-British theologian of the fourth century who was “the main opponent of Saint Augustine of Hippo, the great Church father who, to all intents and purposes, defined Catholic theology until the end of the 20th century”. He likes the Pelagian perspective which primarily “sees humanity as blessed by God”, so that “we all have the possibility of being good”... 

Nigel Jackson is a member of the congregation of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Upwey.

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