Here is the English abstract of Dr. Mansour Motamedi’s presentation in the 2nd pre-con meeting of the conference “Theology of Pilgrimage" which was held by Astan Quds Razavi’s Foundation of Islamic Researches on June 14, 2023, at Mashhad, Iran.
Controversy over Pilgrimage in Christian Theology
The major books written on the topic of pilgrimage in Christianity are mainly dedicated to the two Catholic and Orthodox denominations. Pilgrimage is not an independent concept in the two Testaments, but rather an implicit notion in the journeys of the prophets or explanations of worship. Islamic scholars have also stated that pilgrimage is mentioned in the early Islamic texts not as an independent concept, but in the form of Hajj. It can be said that pilgrimage in Christianity began in the fourth century AD. In Christianity history, two types of pilgrimage are distinguished from each other: physical pilgrimage as a movement from one place to another, and spiritual pilgrimage. The theological basis for both types of pilgrimage returns to the Christian beliefs about the martyrdom and Ascension of Jesus Christ. The spiritual pilgrimage is based on the Christian belief that after death, Jesus ascended with his body, and therefore his body is not in a specific place to be visited. The basis of physical pilgrimage is the belief of Christians that visiting the place where Jesus lived improves their relationship with God. Thomas à Kempis, a 15th-century theologian, rejects physical pilgrimage. Martin Luther, the initiator of religious reform in Christianity, who himself used to go on pilgrimage, criticized physical pilgrimage in his later works in addition to criticizing the church, bishops, and the Pope. Some Christian theologians and writers after the religious reforms wrote books rejecting pilgrimage in allegorical and implicit language. These works, including the book "The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come" by John Bunyan (a reformist theologian), reject physical pilgrimage. John Bunyan's book can be considered a statement of faith for religious reformers following Luther. They translated this book into other languages, including Persian.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi