Geering ends career with Study Trust

At 96, Geering ends career while things gpoing well

geering2.jpgProfessor Sir Lloyd Gearing became a national figure in the 1960s when he was tried and acquitted on a charge of heresy by the Presbyterian Church. Now 96. he delivered The last lecture of his long and distinguished theological career at St Andrew's on the Terrace this week, The emeritus professor of religious studies at Victoria University was involved with the Jesus Seminar. a group that assessed the historical evidence for Christ, among many other contributions to academic debate and religious thought.

How does it feel to be giving your final lecture?

In some respects I'm sorry, but age catches up with you.  It's better for me to stop while things are still going well.

What was the last lecture on?

I tried to link it with the start of the St Andrew's Trust for the Study of Religion and Society [at St Andrew's on The Terrace], when I spoke on the Image of the City.  I talked about the way the whole idea of the city has evolved since the agricultural revolution 1000 years ago, to now.

How have your views changed with age?

They've changed all through my life ... You gradually come to have a much wider horizon. Today we're becoming very global and we're just as interested in disasters overseas as we are in something locally. That's all happened in my lifetime.  There wasn't even any radio, let alone television, when I was young.

Does the growth of fundamentalist religion worry you.

Very much so. This century is a great test for the future of the human race. We're all becoming interdependent and that's brought a fresh clash of the great cultures. The conservative backlash now known as fundamentalism, is afraid of the future. It wants the security of the past. So the tensions are going to increase.  There's no easy way of overcoming them.

Do you believe the person we call Jesus existed?

Oh yes.  By and large, the evidence of his historical existence is pretty good. But we know we little about him. The Jesus Seminar gave me a more positive view than I had before. I'd gradually come to the conclusion we know practically nothing about Jesus. Through their work I became convinced we do know ... they speak of it as the footprints and voiceprints, and that's something.

What does the Presbyterian Church think of you these days?

I don't really know. I feel a bit sidelined. I'm still a Presbyterian Minister and, at the 70th anniversary of my ordination, the presbytery here had a celebration.  The church at large tends to ignore me.

What are your views on gay marriage and some of the debate we've had in New Zealand recently?

Well, I'm pretty liberal on that. I can understand why the church is divided on the issue, but they were divided on slavery 200n years ago. They've got to work their way through it

Which was the best lecture you've ever given?

The ones dealing with religion and science. My recent ones on evolution = I did two series - moving from biological evolution to the evolution of thought. Those were as good as any I'd given.

What do you think of Richard Dawkins? Is he overzealous?

I'd think too narrow-minded. I'd agree with a fair bit of what he says but you've got to look at it in a longer context. The concept of God has been extremely important and is the basis of two great civilizations, out of which  came the whole basis of empirical science. Some philosophers have said science would have never gotten off the ground without the idea of one God holding it all together.

What was the last film you saw>

Wadjda, the first film produced by a woman in Saudi Arabia.

What sort of music do you like to listen to?

Oh, classical music. Beethoven.

What five people, living or dead, would you like to have for dinner?

Einstein, Jesus, Shakespeare - a great thinker - Queen Boudicca, and Queen Elisabeth I.

Beer or wine?

Red wine,. Cabernet sauvignon


Interview: Alex Fensome

Used with permission of the Dom Post 10/5/2014


Posted on 10/05/2014 by Alex Fensome, DomPost

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