Date of Award

1-1-2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Anne Harris

Abstract

John Smith is best known as the charismatic leader and president of God's Squad Motorcycle Club, which seeks to proclaim and incarnate the Christian gospel in Australian outlaw motorcycle subculture. Smith is in fact an evangelist and public figure in his own right. As well he is a teacher and social commentator whose prophetic statements and interpretation of events had an impact in his own culture and abroad. He is also a media spokesman and unofficial 'priest' for thousands who feel themselves alienated from institutional expressions of Christianity, and the pioneering founder of alternative church congregations. This biographical and theoretical study focuses on the transformational nature of Smith's charisma: his vision of the gospel as a radical and morally transforming influence. And his drive to see God's Kingdom brought to bear on earth as in heaven. It addresses the nature of the gifts that have enabled this maverick religious leader to influence the lives of many in one of the most secular cultures in the world, and to win the admiration of more orthodox church leaders who would like to have been able to bridge sub-cultures as Smith has done. It questions how his charismatic gifts function, and to what end. The study also demonstrates how Smith's gifts and character have both enabled and impeded him in the process of applying his vision. Drawing on interviews with Smith and those who have known and worked with him, as well as on Smith's own writings, talks and broadcasts, his life and career arc examined in the light of current theories pertaining to charismatic and transformational leadership. In addition the significance of his life as a leader, pioneer and minister is assessed.

Included in

Christianity Commons

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