New Creation Teaching Ministry

Geoffrey Bingham: His ministry was wider than one church

BinghamI was bitterly disappointed that I was not able to make it to Geoffrey Bingham‘s funeral last week. Geoffrey was in many ways, as I’ve noted before, my grandfather in the faith. Certainly no creature has helped me more to see the heart of the Gospel in the Fatherhood of God and the revelation of that Fatherhood in the Cross. Thank God for this remarkable man. A copy of the funeral service has since been made available for download as MP3 or video from here.

Also, the Sydney Morning Herald recently published this obituary on Geoffrey Bingham by Lesley Hicks and John Sandeman:

‘Geoffrey Bingham was an author, soldier, prisoner of war, farmer, Anglican minister, evangelist, missionary, theologian, entrepreneur and down-to-earth thinker about life, love and community.

In the mid-1950s he packed the Garrison Church, Millers Point, on Sunday nights as he preached on holiness, influenced by stories of revival in East Africa brought back by the then Moore Theological College lecturer Marcus Loane, later Archbishop of Sydney.

Eventually, Bingham’s take on holiness changed and he rejected the Keswick-influenced view that a life of victory could be attained by faith. Instead, he adopted the reformed view that Christians will struggle against sin throughout their lives.

Geoffrey Cyril Bingham, who has died aged 90, was born in Goulburn, the sixth of nine children of Horace Bingham, a dentist and later farmer, and his wife Eileen (Dowling). Her father was originally a Tattersall’s bookmaker who was rich, and generous in philanthropy, but the family kept quiet about his earlier occupation.

Bingham grew up mainly in Wahroonga and all his life was conscious of what he called the Presence – the inescapable awareness of God. He began studies at Moore Theological College, but joined the army when World War II broke out, despite inclinations to pacifism.

He was assigned to the 8th Division Signals and left for Malaya in February 1941. A year later, he earned a Military Medal for outstanding courage and leadership under fire as Singapore fell to the Japanese. For the rest of the war, with a badly smashed leg, he was a prisoner in the Changi and Kranji camps.

The experiences of the war, especially the suffering of POWs in the Japanese camps, shaped or broke the faith of Christians who lived through them. Bingham was one whose faith was immensely strengthened and he developed a powerful and practical philosophy of how the law of love, the love Jesus Christ exemplified, could shape human behaviour and create community even amid extreme degradation.

He became camp librarian and shared his faith, focusing on the cross, in a way that inspired his fellow prisoners and gave them hope.

He discovered that even in that food-obsessed environment, close to death from starvation, it was possible, with freedom and even joy, to resist the temptation to claim the best and biggest of the rice cakes on offer and take the smallest.

Back home in 1946, Bingham married Laurel Chapman, a nurse, and farmed for some years before re-entering Moore College. His first (and only) parish was the Garrison Church. He then served with the Church Missionary Society in Pakistan from 1957 to 1966 and founded the Pakistan Bible Training Institute in Hyderabad.

He returned to Australia in 1967 to become principal of the Adelaide Bible Institute (now the Bible College of South Australia) at Victor Harbor. In 1973 he left the college and became an itinerant Bible teacher, and set up New Creation Publications, an independent, non-denominational ministry, with a second-hand duplicator in a borrowed farmhouse. Soon, as New Creation Teaching Ministries, it became the base for the rest of his life’s work.

Bingham’s early war stories, such as The Laughing Gunner, were published in The Bulletin. Short stories, novels, poetry and hymns, Bible commentaries and other theological writings, in total more than 200 books, poured from his pen over the years.

With teams of fellow teachers (now successors) such as Martin Bleby and Ian Pennicook, he established and led missions and annual or weekly preaching and teaching schools – at the NCTM headquarters in Victor Harbor and Coromandel Valley in South Australia, and in Chatswood in Sydney.

He was often invited abroad as well. He preached and taught in Britain, the US, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Thailand and New Guinea.

Bingham remained an Anglican priest and pastor, but his vision and ministry was wider than one church. His influence extended across all denominations, including to the enthusiastic pentecostal churches. He never sought to compete with churches, only to supplement and strengthen them.

In 2005 he was appointed a member of the Order of Australia.

Geoffrey Bingham is survived by Laurel, five of their six children, 11 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren’.

New Creation Teaching Ministry 2008 Ministry School

New Creation Teaching Ministry recently held their 2008 Ministry School. The theme was The Wisdom of God and the Healing of Man’. Most talks are now available for download as MP3s, pdfs and video, and the program can be downloaded here.

One of the things I most miss about Australia is being able to get along to this annual school – a smorgasbord for the soul in ministry.

Schools coming up include …

  • Sydney Spring School, Chatswood, NSW – 5-6 September, 2008
  • Theme: To Love the Lord Your God
  • Download brochure
  • Southern Highlands Spring School, Mittagong, NSW – 12-13 September, 2008
  • Theme: To Love the Lord Your God
  • Download brochure
  • Summer School 2009, Victor Harbor, South Australia – 4-9 January, 2009
  • Theme: The Glorious Image of God
  • Download brochure

Around …

Ben has reminded us that it’s Milton’s 400th birthday.

Byron continues his great series on Jesus and climate change.

Jim reflects on what Courage for truth as an act of witness might mean.

New talks from the New Creation Teaching Ministry – Summer School 2008 have been added.

There’s also an interesting piece in today’s Washington Post on Brahms by Anne Midgette. She writes:

My antipathy for Brahms was never a matter of strong conviction: rather, a gradual observation that his music was not “taking” in the same way as the works of Beethoven, Bruckner or Mahler. Where as a teenager I delved repeatedly into the Beethoven symphonies, finding new treasures and obsessions on each hearing, the Brahms set remained curiously opaque, as impervious to my repeated essays as the monolith in the movie “2001,” so that I kept forgetting, each time I approached it, that the music was actually familiar.

Looking back, I think this naive perception was reacting against the same thing that Brahms lovers invoke when they say you can listen to his music over and over and never get tired of it. Brahms certainly offers more ideas per square inch than many other composers, deconstructing fragmentary themes or rhythmic patterns with sophistication and nuance. As soon as Brahms puts an idea on the table, he begins playing with it in a process that Arnold Schoenberg dubbed “developing variation,” merging two classical forms in a long process of aural working-out. It is no accident that some of his best and most popular works are variations: the Op. 24 Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, for piano, or the beloved Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a, which Mahler called “an enchanted stream.”

But there is not always a lot of room, in these intense perforations, for air to get in. I have tended to respond to the compulsive part of Brahms, the composer who took 14 years to complete his first symphony, and wrote 20 string quartets before allowing one to see performance. To me, I think, it has communicated some of the aura of the cult of classical music: an intense self-satisfaction, an overworked, even overstuffed quality that reflects both the composer and the period in which it was written. And I am certainly not alone in finding the best Brahms performances to be those that let in some light — like the piano concertos with Leon Fleisher and George Szell, a staple of the repertory.

It had not struck me, until I read Jan Swafford’s excellent Brahms biography, that this overwork was part of an act of deliberate concealment (even variations, after all, are a process of concealment as well as transformation). As Brahms chewed over his pieces, he was also deliberately creating a facade to present to the world — and trying to conceal traces of his own human fallibility. As a result, I think I have had trouble finding him over the years. Even his own instrument, the piano, is seldom allowed to stand alone in his works; it is often veiled by other instruments, however essential its role.

Finally, a reflection on Why we travel…

New Creation Teaching Ministry – Summer School 2008

For over three decades, the dedicated folk at the New Creation Teaching Ministry (based in South Australia) have served the Church through Teaching Missions, Winter Schools , Weekly Classes, Monthly Pastor’s Studies, a week-long Ministry School and a popular Summer School, all with a view to building up the people of God in the grace of, and for the service of, the gospel. Almost all the materials produced – including full book manuscripts – are made available for free download from their website.

Having recently concluded their 2008 Summer School, they are now making the talks available for MP3 download. I will link to these here as they become available.

The theme this year was ‘The Healing of the Nations’, and programs can be downloaded here.