Peter Lineham

Associate Professor, History

Religion won’t die but it will be remade.

So says Massey University Professor of History Peter Lineham. He should know.

He has been studying the history of religion for over 36 years, is one of New Zealand’s leading commentators on religion, and has spoken on the topic at events all over the world.

Brought up as a Protestant, it was while studying for a Master of Arts at Canterbury University that Peter began researching the history of his church – just for fun.

He then went to the University of Sussex in England to complete his doctorate in history, and while he was there he wrote and published his first book about the Brethren religion.

With more than 4200 religions and cults throughout the world it’s not surprising that he finds it fascinating: never a dull moment when you are delving into the culture, psychology and the needs and wants of people from all over the world. The combination of strong personalities, interesting ideas and intense emotions and experiences makes for stimulating study!

He has written a number of articles and books including No Ordinary Union, Bible and Society and Transplanted Christianity, and has also supervised hundreds of student research papers.

The key religious trend that he’s noticed is the dramatic drop off in worshippers (particularly in New Zealand) with many groups and cults closing their doors in the last few decades.

In his view, religion will not die, but it will be very different in the future from what it is today. There is always going to be more to discover.

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