Believing not belonging, Mike Grimshaw

New World, New God: Rethinking Christianity for a Secular Age
Ian Harris
Mākaro Press, $30.00,
ISBN 9780994137869

In 1967, Lloyd Geering, Principal of Knox Theological Hall and Old Testament lecturer, was tried for heresy by the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand – and liberal, mainstream Christianity was never the same. Geering’s heresy was, in the language of the church, actually two different charges of doctrinal error, from two opponents (who did not agree on much). Geering was at this time, as he has told me, actually just “an old-fashioned liberal”, but one with a broad interest across many issues of science, religion, humanism and biblical studies. Moreover, what he stated, regarding both the resurrection in 1966 and the immortality of the soul in 1967, had scarcely made a ripple when said by others overseas. But Geering’s problem was threefold: he made his statements in New Zealand; he made them as Principal of Knox Theological Hall; and, perhaps most importantly, he stated them clearly, in a manner perhaps too many could understand. The result was that issues of liberal, modern Christianity, or what as it was increasingly termed at the time “secular Christianity”, were debated both within and outside the churches, in workplaces, bars, families and the media.

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