Tributes to Philosopher Once Accused of Heresy

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Politicians and academics have paid tribute to a world-renowned Birmingham philosopher who "would not flinch from controversy" and who was once accused of heresy.

Professor John Hick, seen by many as the most influential philosopher of religion of recent times, has died just weeks after celebrating his 90th birthday.

The former University of Birmingham academic and church minister is remembered for helping to stop South African apartheid-era cricketers playing in Birmingham.

He was also an evangelical who was later accused of heresy by the Presbyterian church.

The author of nearly 30 books, including several bestsellers, Prof Hick died at Queen Elizabeth Hospital on February 9. Though born and raised in Scarborough, Prof Hick became closely associated with his adopted Midland home where he developed his belief in equal Tributes - respect for all world religions.

In 1970, he joined with other faith leaders to successfully object to the apartheid South African cricket team coming to Birmingham.

He later became a founder, as well as the first chair, of the All Faiths for One Race (AFFOR) group and served as a chair on the Religious and Cultural Panel, which was a division of the Birmingham Community Relations Committee.

And his work with the city council in drawing up a curriculum for religious studies meant Birmingham children would learn something of all the world's great religions.

Among those to pay tribute to Prof Hick was former Ladywood MP Clare Short.

She said: "I first met John in the 1970s in Handsworth when we were both working against racism and for respect for all the religions of Birmingham.

"He was a world famous theologian who taught that all the great world religions were an equal route to God. He also enjoyed life and always had a twinkle in his eye."

Prof Hick was the HG Wood Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham between 1967 and 1982, and before that taught at Cambridge.

Dr David Cheetham, co-director of the John Hick Centre at the University of Birmingham, said: "Few philosophers of religion in recent times have had the influence that John Hick has. …