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True God or New Guru?

True God or New Guru?


At first glance this appears to be a topical book dealing with the question of leadership raised by the Jim Jones mass suicide in Guyana last year. Yet Geoffrey Bingham wants to raise the deeper fundamental question of authority in a way that will disturb those who live in this century. He is asking, what is 'really real'? And certainly it is about time we asked that question again.

In one sense the Christian Church has been too successful in convincing the modern world that God is a God of love. The usual definitions of God's love end up with us telling God what he should do because he loves us. God's love is re-interpreted in terms of our love. The common argument against the existence of God uses this sort of approach. If God is a God of love how can there be suffering in the world?

It came as a disturbing surprise recently to discover that the message of the writer of 1 John strikes a more primal note by declaring that Jesus' message was 'God is light'. 1 John 1:5

'This is the message we heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.'

God's love is then carefully defined as the coming of Jesus to bear our sin, and bring us into the fellowship of light. I felt distinctly uncomfortable for it means I need to deal with God on God's terms. If God is light, he calls me in question.

A God of light is decidedly awkward for the twentieth century. If God is light, then there is darkness, and light and love are diametrically opposed to darkness and hate. However we interpret what it said, one cannot escape the polarisation of human reality into the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness unless, of course, one explains away the biblical account. Martin Luther too, was clear there were stark alternatives for experience. He put it a different way. Either my righteousness or Jesus' external righteousness. For him my righteousness is darkness, and Jesus' external righteousness is light.

One of the curliest questions one can ask now is this; 'What is Evil?' Our age has convinced itself evil is the absence of good, the result of not doing something. But to ask the question raises the spectre that evil may well have a malevolent life of its own. Both the affirmation that God is light, and Evil is darkness, pull nervously at the comfortable confidence of our own point of view, neatly shorn of these extremes. Our century is a grey era with the common point of view that there are not stark alternatives, only a range of options. In this book Geoff Bingham simply and directly calls this into question on the basis of the Old Testament and the New Testament message.

The Bible affirms that what the eye sees, either brings light, or leaves in darkness. This is not a matter of education but basic belief. To those who see the light, the truth is obvious. To those in darkness, how can there be anything but darkness. There is then no truth but our own point of view. It is a Catch 22 dilemma. If there is no truth, then one is caught in a world in which it is impossible to believe anything is true except one's own point of view. Pilate's answer to Jesus, 'What is truth?' is still used to avoid the truth.

If there is no truth, then there can be no rightful authority. The twentieth century has retreated from truth but finds itself caught with a dilemma when it comes to authority. Authority seems now to be equated with force, the way individual groups and parties maintain their own control. The options seem limited. To disobey leads to anarchy, to obey leads to restrictive conformity. Both options destroy community life. Only if there is a rightful authority can there be creative life, lived in harmony, with the way things really are.

Here then is a fine exposition of the Biblical message in terms of its most comprehensive concepts, applied to the twentieth century problem of the nature of authority, with clear implications for parents, teachers, leaders and rulers. Whether the reader agrees with this presentation of the Biblical view or not, this book looks squarely at the issues that really matter.

Dean Drayton

True God or New Guru?

Geoffrey Bingham

by Rev. Geoffrey Bingham

Subject: Leadership, Community

Book Code: 148

Pages: 111 pp, Book

Pub. Date: 1979

ISBN: 0 9597018 6 9

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