Coming Back to Earth: From gods, to God, to Gaia

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The mainline churches in the Western world are declining, concludes Lloyd Geering, because they are “all out of step” with the modern secular world. This is not so much a result of the supposed renegade behavior of the secular world as the failure of the church to take the next steps in its path of faith. Abraham left his idols behind to go out into the unknown. In contrast, the churches reveal a lack of faith by insisting on an infallible Bible and a set of unchangeable doctrines tailored to an obsolete worldview.

In Coming Back to Earth, Geering calls upon us to complete the work of the Second Axial Age by bringing the sacred—banished to an imaginary heavenly realm in the wake of the First Axial Age—back to earth.

According to Lloyd Geering the doctrines of Incarnation and Trinity, which began as attempts to reflect the indwelling of God in human beings, were soon distorted to proclaim the reality of a sacred realm in the heavens. But the collapse of supernaturalism, he says, has produced a new and different pattern of reality: the self-creating universe, the self-evolving human species, and the emerging global consciousness. In light of these changes, he asks, Is Christianity going anywhere ? His answer, simply put, is that Christianity will not survive unless it can be harmonized with the secular global world. He further observes that all religious traditions must incorporate a concern for the present ecological crisis, And, he insists, any credible faith tradition must embrace a secular or humanist spirituality.

Geering concludes that the most credible scenario for Christianity s future depends on accepting the Gaia concept as a powerful modern myth that will sustain individual humans spiritually, and our planetary home ecologically.

“Coming Back to Earth is a very fine, very important book, and I hope it is read widely. You have outlined, in a quite convincing way, the kind of transformation Christian faith must make today in face of the ecological crisis—the most important problem humans have ever had to face.” —Gordon Kaufman, Mallinckrodt Professor of Divinity, Emeritus, Harvard University

“Geering writes in simple and compelling language, conveying a complicated set of ideas in the most accessible way.” Sofia

Click here for a free, online study guide.

Watch a documentary about Lloyd Geering on YouTube.

For a list of other Polebridge books by Lloyd Geering, click here.

Read Lloyd Geering’s article on How Did Jesus Become God and Why which appeared in Westar’s membership magazine The Fourth R in 1998.

Review & Commentary

One thought on “Coming Back to Earth: From gods, to God, to Gaia

  1. Review

    Coming Back to Earth, the latest book by Prof. Lloyd Geering, is like a travel guide written for any modern-day religious pilgrim. With nary a stumble, Coming Back to Earth skillfully led this every-day spiritual traveler safely across the religious/theological divide between the Heavens fantasized by the Ancients and the heavens digitized by the Hubble.

    In typical (and classic) Geering style, his book makes for easy reading, and therefore, easy understanding of some of the most conflicting and compelling issues confronting religious thought and behavior worldwide.  This writing focuses on and articulates an inclusive 21st century world-view of religious reality that offers the hope of global re-approachment.   

    This small book (218 pages) systematically sheds the straight jacket of Pre-Enlightenment thinking and embraces Post-Enlightenment realities while honoring the sacredness associated with both the fundamentalist and the secularist.  Geering’s book is sensitive to the sharp divisions across the world’s religions and he is careful to offer views that work to mediate religious and cultural chasms.

    With the subtitle “From gods, to God, to Gaia” Geering reveals the simple trajectory of the text.  I was particularly drawn to the Gaia Theory – the planet earth exhibits many characteristics of a living system – and how he sees Gaia responding to human intervention: extinctions, global warming, pollution, and famine.  Geering provides a constructive commentary on this global crisis in his concept of the “greening of Christianity.”

    While Geering’s mind seems expansive beyond limits, his writings distill the essence and this book is no exception. Whether cleric or lay, Coming Back to Earth has the ability to focus the reader on the long-term survival options available to humanity.  No matter one’s religious background (or absence thereof) no thinking person will have the same world-view on page 218 as was held on page 1.

    I have one last observation. If epiphany = a moment of sudden and great revelation, then Coming Back to Earth = epiphany…in spades.

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