I am wrapping up the New Zealand part of my trip. It has been eye opening.
Preached today three times at an enjoyable Anglican church in Christchurch today, after two days at the University of Otago. Did a seminar on Luke-Acts Friday in Christchurch. Being in a city still reeling from the effects of a pair of earthquakes has been not even two years ago has been an experience. Everyone has an earthquake story. Houses still stand empty, neither reprired not knocked down as negotiations with insurance companies continue. It is a city on hold. I have never been in a place with such ongoing drama and pain since New York and 9/11.
New Zealand has a minority of Christians of any stripe. Conservatives are mixed in all the groupings. In that way, it is more like the UK than any other place I have been. There is still a sense of need for biblical teaching here. There is skepticism about academics (read as boring and irrelevant) and there is tension and uncertainty because of the theological range within all the groups. It is a tricky mix.
My time here has gone very well with lectures on the historical Jesus and Luke-Acts being well received. There also is discussion of dispensationalism in some groups, as the view has a decidedly negative reputation in most circles (although what is understood about it is mostly a century old and thus quite out of date), but there is a willingness to discuss issues tied to the future for Israel. Those conversations have been most interesting. My wife regards this trip as one of the most fascinating and complex we have undertaken. I think she is right. Many wonderful believers are working under very difficult conditions. We leave the country tomorrow for two final weeks in Australia in Sydney and Melbourne. The country will be in our thoughts and prayers.