A Third Culture Kid Theology
: Constructing Trinity, Christ, and Believers’ Identity in Liminality in dialogue with Nozomu Miyahira, Emil Brunner, and Thomas F. Torrance

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This dissertation seeks to present a constructive theology from the perspective of Third Culture Kids (TCKs). TCKs are persons who, due to their parents’ occupation, have spent a significant time of their developmental years outside of their parents’ home culture. While taking part in their parents’ home culture (first culture) and host culture (second culture), their sense of belonging tends to be with others of a similar background (third culture). TCKs, shaped by high mobility and cross-cultural experience, often have a sense of living betwixt and between different worlds and carry with them questions of identity and belonging. This research proposes a theological answer to TCKs’ questions of identity and belonging.
First, the potential role of faith in the development of TCKs identity is examined. Faith provides TCKs with an internal locus of integrity and facilitates the consolidation of a fragmented identity on a higher level. Second, key concepts for understanding the experience of TCKs are identified to serve as themes with which to construct a meaningful theology for TCKs. Transculturality, liminality, non-place, liquid modernity, and constructive marginality and mediation are identified as relevant concepts capable of capturing the experience of feeling both at home everywhere and nowhere. Third, having identified key themes for a TCK theology, three areas of theology are addressed to propose a vision of Christianity capable of resonating with TCKs. The doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the person of Christ, and the doctrine of salvation and human identity in God are contextualized utilizing Nozomu Miyahira’s theology of ‘betweenness’, Emil Brunner’s doctrine of the identity-bestowing ‘Gott-zum-Menschen-hin’, and ‘mediation’ in the theology of Thomas F. Torrance. Each doctrine is reformulated in terms of liminality, non-place, liquidity, and mediation in order to present a coherent theology TCKs can recognize themselves in and identify with.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorPaul Joyce (Supervisor)

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