Journey sits down with Rev Dr Geoff Thompson to discuss his new book on the Basis of Union and its relevancy to issues alive in the church today.
A new book by Rev Dr Geoff Thompson exploring the Uniting Church in Australia’s foundational document, the Basis of Union, recently brought the former principal of Trinity Theological College back to Queensland to launch the publication at Indooroopilly Uniting Church.
Although he now calls Melbourne home, for Geoff it was always a natural choice to include a launch in the sunshine state.
The book, Disturbing Much, Disturbing Many: Theology provoked by the Basis of Union, is dedicated to Trinity’s staff, faculty, librarians and students between 2001 and 2013, and Geoff says the whole of the Queensland Synod enriched his life, and that it was here he learnt to be a teaching theologian.
Speaking on the book’s intended audience, Geoff admits, “Firstly Uniting Church folk. To be honest it’s mostly pitched at people who already have some theological understanding or people who have begun to ask theological questions. I would hope that the book is sufficiently accessible for them too.
“One of the really important things I want to say about the book is that it’s not an exercise in retrieval of the Basis. There’s some books that have been written which expound the Basis, and tell us its history.
“What I’m trying to do is say this is the theology we’ve got, and to ask what do we do with it. I try to use the Basis as a springboard for thinking about and engaging some of the issues that are alive in the church today.”
Given the Basis of Union points to Jesus Christ as the foundation of the church, Geoff notes this has “profound implications for a whole range of theological topics”.
“The ones [theological topics] that I’ve actually addressed in the book are spirituality, the bible, baptism and the Eucharist, sexuality, scholarship; all of these things around which we have quite conventional ways of talking.
“The conviction that grew on me as I was writing the book was that it’s often thought that when you talk about the centrality of Jesus Christ you’re making a very conservative statement, reinforcing the status quo. I’m increasingly convinced, however that not only does that starting point always call into question the status quo, it’s also something that’s very fruitful and productive. I hope that by re-familiarising ourselves with that starting point we can become a church that sees the world more clearly through that filter.”
Disturbing Much, Disturbing Many can be purchased from Morning Star Publishing. Visit morningstarpublishing.net.au/product/disturbing-much-disturbing-many It is also available for loan at Trinity Theological Library.