Alexa

New Zealand theologian, once tried for heresy, awarded nation's top honor

New Zealand theologian, once tried for heresy, awarded nation's top honor

New Zealand theologian Lloyd Geering, tried for heresy by the nation's Presbyterian Church nearly 40 years ago, has been awarded the country's highest civilian honor.
Geering was appointed a Member of the Order of New Zealand in the nation's annual New Year Honors list, published Saturday.
He was recognized for his contributions to religious scholarship and thought and the community. He is a widely published author on theological issues.
The award is limited to 20 living New Zealanders at any time.
Geering, 88, outraged church conservatives in 1967 with a sermon in which he refused to accept the immortality of the human soul.
He earlier had offended some religious leaders with articles he published in 1966 doubting the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, another fundamental tenet of Christian belief.
He was charged with "doctrinal error" and disturbing the peace of the church in a dramatic two-day trial in 1967 before the New Zealand Presbyterian General Assembly, the church's ruling body.
The General Assembly ruled in a split vote that no doctrinal error had been proved and dismissed the charges against Geering.
A Presbyterian Church minister from 1943 to 1956, he was then appointed principal of the church's theological school, Knox College.
He later became foundation professor of religious studies at Wellington's Victoria University, holding the post from 1971 to 1984.
In other awards, Hollywood star Sam Neill was honored for services to acting and named as a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, the nation's second-highest civilian honor.
Irish-born Neill made his feature film debut, "Sleeping Dogs," in 1977 and his many credits since include "The Piano," "Jurassic Park," "The Horse Whisperer," "The Hunt for Red October" and "My Brilliant Career." Neill is a naturalized New Zealand citizen.
He has received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for his work on television and was named best actor by the Australian Film Institute in 1988.
Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Peter Arnett, who won international recognition for his television reporting from Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf War, was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Arnett, who was born in New Zealand, lives in the U.S.