Geoffrey Cyril Bingham
Geoffrey Bingham was born in New South Wales on 6th January 1919, the Christian festival of the Epiphany, or the manifestation of Christ to the nations. Geoffrey proclaimed the gospel in twenty-six countries, and made a lasting impact on this nation of Australia. In 2005 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia ‘For service to the community through Christian ministry, encouraging cross-cultural theological education and as an author’.
As a boy, Geoffrey knew he was going to be a preacher of the gospel, even before he was converted to belong to Christ at the age of twelve. Always conscious of ‘the Presence’—the inescapable awareness of God, both in and outside the church building—he loved wandering in the bush around Wahroonga. Here he gained his early appreciation of God’s creation—particularly the birds, the animals, and the human creatures—which was to remain with him all his life. He would later say that the primary thing in all history is creation, as far as God is concerned. God goes to the trouble of redeeming, because He loves His creation, and is determined to bring it to the goal of His plan and purpose for it—the new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells!
With his conversion at the age of twelve, he came into the total forgiveness of all his sins and the joyful freedom from guilt that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. He immediately set about trying to convert his whole family, in what he would later say was a presumptuous way, and he never ceased bringing people to that knowledge of God as Father that comes through our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ’s saving death and resurrection and Lordship over all.
Geoffrey entered Moore Theological College, Sydney, in 1939, but in 1940 he enlisted for Army Service with the Australian Imperial Forces, serving until 1946. He became a physical training instructor and, as a Sergeant, was head of a cable-laying team in 8th Division Signals. He was in Malaya from 1941 and was decorated with the Military Medal and a Mention in Despatches for bravery in the field. Badly wounded, he was a Prisoner of War from February 1942 to August 1945 in Changi and Kranji Prisoner of War Camps on Singapore island. When partially recovered from his heavy wounding he was appointed Librarian in the hospital.
It was here in prison camp that Geoffrey’s faith in God was confirmed, and much of his later theology was forged. Here, among prisoners as well as their captors, he saw human depravity at its worst, and so came to appreciate the depths plumbed by the action of the cross of Christ to redeem us. Ever since, as a keen observer of humanity, and as a participant in human life and action in many different settings, he has made it his business to see that human beings are accorded their true God-given honour and dignity. Along with this has come his fierce opposition to anything that would belittle or demean human persons. Here in prison camp was settled, in the oft-related incident of the rice cakes, his understanding of the eternal law of God as love, and of the universe as a moral entity. It was in Kranji hospital camp that Geoffrey experienced, with a group of men who met together around the Scriptures, the vital reality of true human community in God, that issued freely in practical acts of love. Here, at one time close to death, he heard God say: ‘Thou shalt not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord’.
Geoffrey returned to Sydney in 1945 and on being discharged in 1946 went on to be married to Laurel Chapman of Turramurra. For sixty-three years of married life together, Laurel helped to make possible Geoffrey’s unstinting ministry of preaching, teaching and writing, while exercising her own Christian ministry in the family and beyond. Their six children, eleven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren are listed at the end of today’s order of service. Geoffrey’s teaching, counselling and writing on marriage, human sexuality and family living has been profound and far-reaching.
Geoffrey and Laurel then went farming at Eungai on the north coast of New South Wales to put into practice the love that had come to them in God, particularly as Geoffrey had experienced this in the prison camp community, and to enable Geoffrey to continue his writing. Thirty-four of his short stories were published in The Bulletin, and some were included in other anthologies.
Geoffrey then returned to Moore Theological College where he obtained First Class Honours in the Australian College of Theology Th.L course, Second Class Honours in the Moore College Diploma. He became Rector of the Garrison Church at Millers Point for four years, had a wide ministry in evangelism and teaching throughout Australia, and was the Honorary Vice-Principal of The Sydney Bible Training Institute. His church experienced something like a powerful revival. This came about after Geoffrey was shown by God the emptiness of anything built on the power of personality, and both he and Laurel received an empowering dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Geoffrey’s thoroughgoing teaching on the Spirit of God has saved me and many from the superficialities and pitfalls that can accompany renewal movements.
Geoffrey and Laurel and their growing family then served for ten years in Pakistan with the Church Missionary Society where he was Founder Principal of the Pakistan Bible Training College. He was a delegate to the first World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin in 1966, and in 1968 to the South East Asian Congress on Evangelism at Singapore. He took many clergy conferences in different countries, and lectured in a number of theological seminaries and colleges. It was on one such occasion, taking studies on the Cross at a convention in Calcutta, that Geoffrey was given a rich and lasting apprehension of the personal reality of knowing God as Father. Geoffrey’s subsequent teaching on the Father and His Family has been called his most distinctive contribution to theology, and to people’s lives. Towards the end of his time in Pakistan he witnessed a powerful revival—this in addition to two previous awakenings. These experiences of revival left him with an indelible impression of what true faith and life can be, and never allowed him to settle for anything less in the life of the church.
Perhaps because of this, it was not easy for him on his return to find his place in the life of the church in Sydney, and God had other plans for him. From 1967 to 1973 he was Principal of the Adelaide Bible Institute (later the Bible College of South Australia) in Victor Harbor, where the student body of seventy grew to one hundred and twenty in two years, and his Monday Night Lectures in Adelaide and other ministries of missions and conventions, were palpably fruitful. Many lasting and powerful ministries across Australia and beyond have been the fruit of these years.
Sensing a wider ministry beyond Bible College campus he, in concert with a number of like-minded folk, founded the New Creation Teaching Ministry in 1973, becoming its Executive Director. The present site for New Creation at Coromandel East in the Adelaide Hills was provided in a remarkable way in 1975–76. Missions, teaching series and Bible schools in various venues followed, and others were drawn onto the team as the site grew into a large campus with a fully equipped teaching centre, library, publication, sales and administration facilities, and a print room. Geoffrey’s published books number over two hundred—theology, Bible commentaries, short stories, novels, essays, poetry and hymns—along with materials he had encouraged others to write—all freely downloadable on the website. Thousands of teaching talks have been recorded on cassette, mp3, video and DVD to spread the teaching across the globe. True to the voluntary principle that Geoffrey learned from Roland Allen’s writings, all of this has been funded by God through the unsolicited gifts of God’s people. Wide-ranging as this New Creation Teaching Ministry has been, Geoffrey was never contained by it, but ministered far and wide. Remaining a loyal Anglican minister, he never sought to become a new church, but served across all denominations to supplement and strengthen their ministries.
Adapted from the address 'Life and Ministry' given by Martin Bleby at Geoff's funeral
(For the full text see the link below)
On 3rd June 2009, Geoffrey went to be with his Heavenly Father Whom he loves and proclaimed so eagerly.
His funeral service was held at Holy Trinity Church, Adelaide on 10th June:
Order of service
Life and Ministry
The service is available as a DVD and also as audio files at www.sermonaudio.com/newcreation