BAgrSc (Hons), BD (Hons), PhD
Geoff was born and grew up in Melbourne. After a brief career in Agricultural Science (most of which was in develpoment work in Pakistan), Geoff turned to theology as part of his training for ordination within the Uniting Church in Australia.
After completing a BD through the former UFT in the then Melbourne College of Divinity in the late 1980s, Geoff undertook doctoral study (on Karl Barth) at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Catholic theologian, Nicholas Lash. A period of pastoral ministry in Melbourne was followed by 12 years teaching systematic theology at Trinity Theological College in Brisbane, for the last three of which he was college principal. He took up his current position at Pilgrim in 2013.
Emerging out of his doctoral studies, Geoff’s initial research was engaged with Karl Barth, especially his account of truth extra muros ecclesiae. A period of engagement with the theology of the Uniting Church, especially it’s founding document ‘Basis of Union’ led to a number of papers and books, including Disturbing Much, Disturbing Many: Theology Provoked by the Basis of Union and a short commentary, ‘In his own strange way.’ More recently an interest in the debates about the nature, function and status of Christian doctrine led to the publication of Christian Doctrine: A Guide for the Perplexed.
Geoff’s teaching is mostly focused on the main areas of Christian doctrine. He offers two foundational units, Christianity’s Big Ideas and Culture, Belief and Theology. In addition to units on Christology and Ecclesiology, he teaches reading units in specific areas of Christian doctrine, and co-teaches with Church History colleagues, The Cracking of Christendom: Theological Issues of the Reformation. In all his teaching he seeks to show how, in the words of Christine Helmer, an interest in Christian doctrine leads “not to a closing in, but to an opening out.”
The Guardian, The Conversation, ABC Religion and Ethics, and On-line opinion have published op-ed pieces by Geoff. These include articles on such topics as Scott Morrison’s theology, the diverse Christian responses to the Israel Folau case, and the problems with Greg Sheridan’s defence of Christianity.
For many years, Geoff served on the Working Group on Doctrine of the Uniting Church. He is presently a member of the Standing Committee of the UCA’s National Assembly.