Geering, Spong — utterly wrong

If you don’t want to read the next 1000 words, here is my argument in a nutshell:

Current contempt of religion is just a culturally conditioned product of a particular time & place. It will pass.

Geering’s attempt to discredit the Scripture and the Resurrection has failed. It was embraced by liberal academics, and admittedly found much popularity amongst those with an axe to grind. Unfortunately for Geering, (but happily for humanity) God still undeniably intervenes in very personal ways in people’s lives, and shatters materialist preconceptions.

Sure, it was good that Geering enabled people to be honest about their unbelief and discard the ritualistic trappings of religion. I don’t think Christianity operates too well in the confines of a hierarchy and tradition. It’s a living, vital, experiential faith. And that’s why postmodern man isn’t at church on Sunday. He still thinks of Christianity as some musty old ritual. However even at the shopping mall, the mighty fortress of materialism, you may find a “Cosmic Corner” shop, or some kind of alternate medicine practitioner, and tons of New Age literature. People haven’t abandoned God, they are bored with a tedious, academic liberal church that has lost faith in itself. But Spirit-filled churches that hold to the faith, and love the Lord, and speak the truth, are growing vigorously, even here in Helengrad.

A couple of very fair reviews can be found at “Sea of Faith” :

[In Geering’s book] God is dethroned, humanity is enthroned, we live a secular, rational existence. The post-modern however is not so celebratory in the triumph of a western rationalist ethos, noting that progress and liberal values often become enthroned in the place of the now departed God — religion reappears with a secular, liberal face. Does Jesus lead so inexorably to a western liberal position? How can western liberals be so sure that they know that 2000 years of Christianity was misguided and that the truth is now abundantly [and finally] clear?I stated the problem is with the bibliography because the narrow focus of reading, the almost total disengagement with continental theory and theology, the implied dismissal of late modern/post-modern theology and thought is a great pity because as Lloyd has consistently shown, he has a rare gift to take other’s thoughts and insights and refract them in an accessible way. To a degree he has done this with this book — but in doing so he has merely written the book he should [by this logic] have written back in the 1960s [or early 1970s at a pinch]. Geering on Vattimo, Virilio, Nancy, Derrida, Baudrillard, Mark C. Taylor, Caupto, Kristeva, on Bauman, Milbank and Ward to name but a few would be interesting. For in philosophy God has come back — not the God the modernists sought to dethrone but a God on the other side of the dethroned God, a god that challenges the claims of secular modernity as yet another form of religion. The trouble secular moderns have with such claims is that they read such writers in the secular equivalent of religious literalists — and so dismiss them as ‘gobbledygook’ in much of the same way religious literalists dismiss any reading that does not fit their selected expectation.

Perhaps in the end the publishers did understand the real intention of this book. To argue for Christianity without theism is a different thing than what occurs here. For while this is an attempt to have Christianity without God — it really, at heart is a call for Christianity without Christ. As such it needs to be placed on the bookshelf somewhere between the 1960s ‘death of Godders’ and Fukuyama’s End of History.

In conclusion the irony is that while for many people Geering will be seen to have now, finally, ‘gone too far’, the reality is in fact that he has not gone ‘far enough’, being stalled in a version of 1960s triumphant modernity while the world is attempting to move on from (and in) a desecularizing postmodernism.

Many who applaud Geering’s attempts to spurn the Spirit and secularize the Church, have simply traded the unquestioned authority of Scripture for an unquestioning faith in certain scholars.

In developing his ideas Geering was heavily influenced by three major ideas. The first: according to 20th century analysis of language (which in turn is based on the ideas of Emmanuel Kant) is that we construct our own world, influenced by language and culture. The second is a progressive view of history strongly influenced by the axial theory of Karl Jaspers. The third theme is projectionism influenced by Freud and Feuerbach in which humans are assumed to project onto God our deepest longings and desires…

The belief in a supernatural god, a spirit realm and in Jesus as being both fully human and divine is, according to such thinkers untenable in the 21st century.

Yet contrary to the assertions of Geering that supernaturalist belief is declining, most people still cling to “premodern” beliefs in some kind of spiritual entity. And the Christian community is not fading away, but in many parts of the world, particularly in Africa and South America is growing strongly.

Geering, despite his undoubted intelligence, represents the last gasp of liberal theology. Christianity without God is not Christianity. By denying the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, Geering is stripping Christianity of its power, reducing it to a variant of secular humanism. Such a movement is doomed to die for it shares with humanism its fundamental weakness, namely the inability to regenerate the human heart. Nor is it particularly new. It is based on a radical nominalism, a heresy that has been in existence for centuries.

Geering, like his fellow liberal theologians is a study in the failure of the human intellect, when it divorces itself from the God who created it. All its utterances become nothing more than a clanging cymbal, full of noise signifying nothing.


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