Yesterday I learned of the death of Michael Green! And unless you come from a church background that is not too dissimilar from my own and have been around for a long time, I would be surprised if you have heard of him. Even though I hadn’t come across him for at least a decade, he made a profound effect on me and I want to say why, realizing I am on solid ground having read several tributes.
One tribute begins: “Canon Michael Green died peacefully on February 6th in Oxford after a short period of hospitalization in Oxford at the age of 88” and points to a link: “Canon Michael Green: a Life in Service of the Gospel” which details some of his career. One particularly moving tribute, which captures some of what I and no doubt many others feel was by noted evangelist Canon J.John, titled: “A fond farewell to a good man“. I became a Christian in 1966. Around 1969, while in the Sixth Form at school, my then RE teacher, who I later learned was in the same Anglican, Evangelical camp as Michael Green, recommended I read his book: “Runaway World”, which I did and I was glad to have done so.
In today’s parlance, Runaway World might be seen as a populist apologetic for the Christian gospel but it made a profound effect on me, and was likely the first book of its sort that I read and was to impact my thinking and approach from then on. I came across Michael Green writings at university and after. These invariably impressed as speaking deep truth in an easy to understand way. He wrote many books after that, some quite a bit deeper, a few I later read, and as I came to learn he made a powerful impact on many, not just as a writer but an evangelist and theologian and one who inspired others and was able to communicate well to the common man. Significant for me, coming as I did from my narrow Brethren background, was that this sound brother was an Anglican.
If he had a mantra, it was to do the work of an evangelist and to communicate timeless truth from an orthodox, conservative evangelical perspective and encourage and help equip others to do so. As I prepared to write this, I checked out some of his teaching on YouTube. One is titled: “Michael Green on evangelism and apologetics – electrify the fence they’re sitting on!” delivered well into his eighties, with impeccable logic and reference to and understanding of the issues raised in today’s culture, in that reassuring, confident, crisp public school accent, yet retaining the common touch, I find among many a great Anglican preacher.
Michael Green certainly impacted many, not just me but those who sought to proclaim the timeless truths of the gospel in today’s anti / post Christian culture, as the tributes show. If there is one accolade he would appreciate more than the many that have come his way, it is that of the Lord he served: “well done good and faithful servant”, because that was what he was. While sad to learn of his death, I am encouraged by his legacy and to follow his example of going into the market place of free flowing and often flawed ideas and share the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If nothing else, Michael Green teaches us to hold our nerve, for not only is the gospel the power of God unto salvation but it can stand up to the most rigorous scrutiny.