Lloyd Geering

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Sir Lloyd Geering

Lloyd Geering, 2011.jpg
Geering in September 2011
Born (1918-02-26) 26 February 1918 (age 101)
Rangiora, New Zealand
Alma mater University of Otago
Known for1967 charges of heresy

Sir Lloyd George Geering ONZ GNZM CBE (born 26 February 1918) is a New Zealand theologian who faced charges of heresy in 1967 for his controversial views. He considers Christian and Muslim fundamentalism to be "social evils". Geering is Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. He turned 100 in February 2018. [1]

Heresy belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs

Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. A heretic is a proponent of such claims or beliefs. Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is an impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.

Christian fundamentalism began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries among British and American Protestants as a reaction to theological liberalism and cultural modernism. Fundamentalists argued that 19th-century modernist theologians had misinterpreted or rejected certain doctrines, especially biblical inerrancy, that they viewed as the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Fundamentalists are almost always described as having a literal interpretation of the Bible. A few scholars label Catholics who reject modern theology in favor of more traditional doctrines as fundamentalists. Scholars debate how much the terms "evangelical" and "fundamentalist" are synonymous. In keeping with traditional Christian doctrines concerning biblical interpretation, the role Jesus plays in the Bible, and the role of the church in society, fundamentalists usually believe in a core of Christian beliefs that include the historical accuracy of the Bible and all its events as well as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Islamic fundamentalism Muslims who seek to return to the fundamentals of the Islamic religion

Islamic fundamentalism has been defined as a movement of Muslims who regard earlier times favorably and seek to return to the fundamentals of the Islamic religion and live similarly to how the Islamic prophet Muhammad and his companions lived. Islamic fundamentalists favor "a literal and originalist interpretation" of the primary sources of Islam, seek to eliminate "corrupting" non-Islamic influences from every part of their lives and see "Islamic fundamentalism" as a pejorative term used by outsiders for Islamic revivalism and Islamic activism.



Geering was born in Rangiora, Canterbury, New Zealand, and "embraced" the Christian tradition in 1937. [2] He holds a master's degree in mathematics and a Doctor of Divinity from the University of Otago. He was ordained as a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) in 1943 and practised as a minister in Kurow; Opoho, Dunedin (1945-1950); and St James, Wellington (1950-1956) before turning to theological teaching. He was the Honorary Associate Minister of St John’s Church in Wellington from 1971 to 1983. He was named Honorary Assistant at St Andrew’s in Wellington in 1989. Geering remains on the Register (Fasti) of New Zealand Presbyterian Ministers. [3]

Rangiora Secondary urban area

Rangiora is the largest town and seat of the Waimakariri District, in Canterbury, New Zealand. It is 29 kilometres (18 mi) north of Christchurch, and is considered a satellite town of the city. With a population of 18,300, Rangiora is the 25th largest urban area in New Zealand, and the fourth-largest in the Canterbury region.

Doctor of Divinity advanced or honorary academic degree in divinity

Doctor of Divinity is an advanced or honorary academic degree in divinity.

University of Otago university in New Zealand

The University of Otago is a collegiate university based in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. It scores highly for average research quality, and in 2006 was second in New Zealand only to the University of Auckland in the number of A-rated academic researchers it employs. In the past it has topped the New Zealand Performance Based Research Fund evaluation.

Geering has held the positions of Professor of Old Testament Studies Presbyterian Church Hall Brisbane Queensland, Australia (1956-1960, Professor of Old Testament Studies Theological Hall Dunedin (29 February 1960 - December 1963), and Principal of Theological Hall Dunedin (12 December 1963 - 31 May 1971). In 1971, Geering became the Foundation Professor of Religious Studies at Victoria University of Wellington and held this position until his retirement in 1984 when he was appointed Professor Emeritus. In 1983 he became a Lecturer at the St Andrew’s Trust for the Study of Religion and Society. [3]

In 1967 Geering gained a high profile when he was charged with "doctrinal error" and "disturbing the peace and unity of the (Presbyterian) church". [4] The case was brought before the 1967 General Assembly of the PCANZ, and dismissed without being much discussed. [5] The charges were brought by a group of conservative laymen and a conservative minister. During his church trial, he claimed that the remains of Jesus lay somewhere in Palestine and that the resurrection had been wrongfully interpreted by churches as a resuscitation of the body of Jesus. He also rejects the notion that God is a supernatural being who created and continues to look over the world. [6]

Palestine (region) geographical region in the Middle East

Palestine is a geographic region in Western Asia usually considered to include Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and in some definitions, parts of western Jordan.

Resurrection of Jesus Christian belief that God raised Jesus after his crucifixion

The resurrection of Jesus, or anastasis is the Christian belief that God raised Jesus after his crucifixion as first of the dead, starting his exalted life as Christ and Lord. In Christian theology, the death and resurrection of Jesus are the most important events, a foundation of the Christian faith, and commemorated by Easter. His resurrection is the guarantee that all the Christian dead will be resurrected at Christ's parousia. For the Christian tradition, the bodily resurrection was the restoration to life of a transformed body powered by spirit, as described by Paul and the Gospels, that led to the establishment of Christianity.

Geering is a member of the Jesus Seminar and a participant in the Living the Questions program, an alternative to the evangelical Alpha course, which he views as dangerous indoctrination sadly growing among even mainstream churches.[ citation needed ] He is also a member of the Sea of Faith Network (New Zealand), and St Andrew's On The Terrace as well as Principal Lecturer at St Andrew's Trust for the Study of Religion and Society

Jesus Seminar group of scholars that critically evaluated claims regarding the historicity of Jesus

The Jesus Seminar was a group of about 50 critical Biblical scholars and 100 laymen founded in 1985 by Robert Funk that originated under the auspices of the Westar Institute. The seminar was very active through the 1980s and 1990s, and into the early 21st century.

Living the Questions

Living the Questions is a "DVD and web-based curriculum ... designed to help people wrestle with the relevance of Christianity in the 21st century." Growing out of two United Methodist congregations in Arizona, the curriculum is part of the larger movement of Progressive Christianity and is distributed through the Internet and through several denominational publishing divisions like Cokesbury and Logos Productions. Created to resource moderate to more liberally-minded Christians, Living the Questions (LtQ) offers an alternative to the Alpha Course. As of 2016 the LtQ curriculum is in use in nearly 5000 churches across North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Alpha course

The Alpha course is an evangelistic course which seeks to introduce the basics of the Christian faith through a series of talks and discussions. It is described by its organisers as "an opportunity to explore the meaning of life". Alpha courses are being run in churches, homes, workplaces, prisons, universities and a wide variety of other locations. The course began in Britain and is being run around the world by various Christian denominations.

He was honoured in 1988 as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and in the 2001 New Year Honours as a Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to religious studies. [7] In the 2007 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Member of the Order of New Zealand. In 2009, his status as a Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit was re-designated to that of Knight Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

The 2001 New Year Honours in New Zealand were appointments by Elizabeth II in her right as Queen of New Zealand, on the advice of the New Zealand government, to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by New Zealanders, and to celebrate the passing of 2000 and the beginning of 2001. They were announced on 30 December 2000.

The 2007 New Year Honours in New Zealand were appointments by Elizabeth II in her right as Queen of New Zealand, on the advice of the New Zealand government, to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by New Zealanders, and to celebrate the passing of 2006 and the beginning of 2007. They were announced on 30 December 2006.

Order of New Zealand organization; order of chivalry of New Zealand

The Order of New Zealand is the highest honour in New Zealand's royal honours system, created "to recognise outstanding service to the Crown and people of New Zealand in a civil or military capacity". It was instituted by royal warrant of 6 February 1987. The order is modelled on the British Order of Merit and Order of the Companions of Honour.

Geering is a patron of the Coalition for Open Government.



  1. Boswell, Ryan (26 February 2018). "'I have a great deal of optimism' – famous Kiwi atheist Sir Lloyd Geering celebrates 100th birthday". 1NewsNow. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  2. Morris and Grimshaw, 2008. Page 277
  3. 1 2 "Ministers, Deaconesses & Missionaries from 1840". Register of New Zealand Presbyterian Church. Arden Street, Opoho, Dunedin 9010, New Zealand: Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ). Presbyterian Archives Research Centre, Knox College. Galbraith to Gillies: 164. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  4. Lloyd Geering speaking at Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney, in October 2004: "In 1967, Lloyd Geering's writings on the resurrection of Jesus and the immortality of the soul, resulted in his being charged by the Presbyterian Church with "doctrinal error" and "disturbing the peace of the church" – which is more or less the same thing as a heresy charge – and we'll shortly be hearing about what happened there. Since then, he's gone on to challenge Christian orthodoxy perhaps even more profoundly, by questioning the distinction between the religious and the secular worlds."
  5. Geering says: "But before there had been very much time for any adequate discussion of the real issues, a motion was put to the House, and later carried firmly on the voices – and it said that “the Assembly judges that no doctrinal error has been established, dismisses the charges and declares the case closed”". Lloyd Geering speaking at Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney, in October 2004
  6. The Last Western Heretic, produced in 2007 in New Zealand and Israel, aired on TV ONE, 12 January 2008 (Press release)
  7. "New Year honours list 2001". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 30 December 2000. Retrieved 17 August 2019.

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