It was with a sense of sadness that I heard of the death of Michael Green.
I admired his passion for the gospel. I first came across Michael in my first year at Cambridge – I think it must have been the Lent Term of 1964. He was taking the CICCU (Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Mission). In those days it was, however, an unconventional mission. For instead of a series of gospel addresses in a church, Michael gave lectures on the Christian faith in a large lecture hall. This was my first introduction to apologetics, and I was most impressed. As a young minister I particularly appreciated Man Alive, Runaway World and Why Bother with Jesus? – they provided me with a range of anecdotes and facts, which I used in my evangelistic preaching.
I admired his intellect. Most evangelists rely on wit and the gift of the gab to put over their message. Michael, however, had a mind, which he used in the service of Christ. Unusually he had a Cambridge BD, which at Cambridge was not a first degree, but rather a research degree, somewhat akin to a PhD. His book Evangelism in the Early Church, was a fruit of his scholarship.
I admired his ability as a writer. As a young preacher in the heady days of charismatic renewal I particularly appreciated To Corinth with Love, a lively exposition of Paul's letters to Corinth, which formed the basis of many a sermon. Michael was unashamedly a populist, but it was populism rooted in scholarship. Would that more members of the academy could provide helpful books for preachers!
I admired his approach to ministry. Michael had been Principal of St John's College, Nottingham, which under his leadership became for many evangelical Anglicans the place to prepare for ministry. Later as Principal of Spurgeon's College I often drew upon his wonderful guide to ministry, Freed to Serve.
There were times when I took issue with Michael – not least his book, Baptism, which to the disappointment of Baptists was an eloquent defence of infant baptism. From my perspective Michael's scholarship failed him at that point!
Nonetheless, Michael Green was a great servant of God. I for one thank God for him.
Rev Dr Paul Beasley-Murray is a Baptist minister, author and ministry consultant. He blogs at Church Matters.