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Michael Green: By his friends, edited by Julia Cameron

15 November 2019

John Pritchard learns about Michael Green as his friends knew him

MICHAEL GREEN was a man of great energy and undiluted passion for Christ. His death this year left an enormous crowd of people with fond and significant memories (News and Gazette, 15 February). Some of those have been collected in this book.

The mass of reminiscence from these 35 friends has been well organised into themes, such as Michael as an evangelist, a writer (he wrote more than 70 books), an apologist, and a theological educator. But it also gives accounts of his early years at Oxford and Cambridge (two firsts and a blue in fencing), in the army, and then in his curacy and teaching, as well as the years of plenty when his work-rate left everyone standing.

The mood of the book is adulatory, of course; it’s by his friends. But there is honesty, too, from his son Tim about the strains in the family in the years at St Aldate’s, and how they came through the stronger.

Chapters of particular interest are those that give the family perspective, the shape of a typical student mission, and a talk that was written but never given for a Birmingham university mission.

If Michael had given that talk, it would have been as an 89-year-old. The last dozen years of his life saw a resurgence of university evangelism in “events weeks” in the UK and across Europe. His mentoring of a network of young evangelists for European universities became a key strategy.

He would send me a one-page summary of these missions and what he learnt from them, and I would marvel at his enthusiasm and energy.

Michael Green with his father, Ted, on the latter’s 100th birthday in 1985. From the book

There are common themes — Michael’s sharp mind (he was on the Doctrine Commission in his thirties), his warmth and humility, and the huge smile. We learn, too, of his love of sport, particularly cricket and field sports. We see him on the Springboard initiative, and in Africa, the Far East, and the United States. We see him shining with his love of Christ.

We also see him facing death with enviable trust. His last message to Tim Green in Malaysia said: “I am at peace, and the Lord is with me, and I have a pile of books which is disappearing into different consultants’ hands, and so the work continues. I feel a bit like Paul, you know. I have finished the race. I have fought the fight. And I am happy.”

A fine end to a fine life.

The Rt Revd John Pritchard is a former Bishop of Oxford.

Michael Green: By his friends
Julia Cameron, editor
IVP £16.99
Church Times Bookshop £15.30

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