Michael Green (theologian)
Early life, education and ministry
Green's mother was Australian and his father was Welsh. He became a committed Christian through the ministry of E. J. H. Nash (known as "Bash"). He was educated at Clifton College and Exeter College, Oxford (Bachelor of Arts 1953, Master of Arts 1956) and subsequently at Queens' College, Cambridge (Bachelor of Arts 1957, Master of Arts 1961, Bachelor of Divinity 1966) while preparing for ordained ministry at Ridley Hall. He has been admitted to the degree of Doctor of Divinity by the Archbishop of Canterbury (1996) and the University of Toronto (1992). He was ordained deacon in 1957 and priest in 1958.
Green was an assistant curate of Holy Trinity, Eastbourne (1957–60), a tutor at the London College of Divinity (1960–69), Principal of St John's College, Nottingham (1969–75) and Rector of St Aldate's Church, Oxford and chaplain of the Oxford Pastorate (1975–86). He had additionally been an honorary canon of Coventry Cathedral from 1970 to 1978. He then moved to Canada where he was Professor of Evangelism at Regent College, Vancouver from 1987 to 1992. He returned to England to take up the position of advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York for the Springboard Decade of Evangelism. In 1993 he was appointed the Six Preacher of Canterbury Cathedral. Despite having officially retired in 1996, he became a Senior Research Fellow and Head of Evangelism and Apologetics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford in 1997 and lives in the village of Marston near Oxford.
Green is married to Rosemary and they have four adult children, Sarah, Jenny, Tim and Jonathan.
Apologetics and evangelism
Green has been a prolific writer, with much of his work written for a popular reading audience, although he has also contributed to academic studies. Many of his best known books discuss the twin topics of evangelism and apologetics.
One of Green's objectives has been to equip lay Christian believers in their grasp of the gospel message and to then have confidence to converse with others about faith matters. These practical objectives are clear in books such as Evangelism, Now and Then and Sharing Your Faith With Friends and Family. At a technical level Green has contributed an academic study of the praxis and theory of evangelism in Evangelism in the Early Church. This work explores the development of evangelism through the New Testament texts and from the early Church Fathers. He has built on those foundational studies in his advocacy of evangelism at a parish church level, both through his personal ministry and in his book Evangelism Through the Local Church.
Green's apologetic work has generally focussed on popular misconceptions and objections held by non-Christians. In books such as You Must Be Joking, World on the Run and Why Bother With Jesus, he deals with attitudes of religious indifference and scepticism. He also addresses a variety of objections concerning religious hypocrisy and religious pluralism as well as popular questions of doubt and unbelief. He has also examined the evidences for the life, death and resurrection of Christ in Man Alive and again in the revision of that book, The Day Death Died.
Green has also explored academic challenges to faith, such as in the collection of essays he prepared as a reply to Don Cupitt's work on The Myth of God Incarnate. In that analysis Green and his colleagues addressed the problems of myth and history as propounded in modern biblical scholarship, especially concerning the relationship between the events of Jesus' ministry and teaching and the doctrine of the Incarnation.
Green's recent work, The Books the Church Suppressed: Fiction and Truth in The Da Vinci Code, is an argument for orthodox Christianity against Gnosticism as presented in The Da Vinci Code. Green here links Gnosticism with a decline in society. He also claims that Gnosticism leads to a decline in morality, so that by ordaining a homosexual bishop, the Episcopal Church of the United States has itself shown Gnostic tendencies. He has considered aspects of apologetic methodology and strategy in his co-authored work with Alister McGrath.
Aside from his apologetic writings, Green has also addressed issues of discipleship in the Christian life, ministry and leadership in the church, the doctrine of baptism, pneumatology (study of the Holy Spirit) and demonology. He has also written non-technical commentaries on certain books of the New Testament.
Adventure of Faith is his spiritual autobiography.
Green was a good-natured victim of hoax letter writers, the Reverend Toby Forward and the Reverend David Johnson, writing under the pseudonym Francis Wagstaffe. They describe him as "the famous evangelist and mild arsonist" in letters to Euston Films, Roy Jenkins and Hodder & Stoughton. They received a letter from Green in which he admitted, "I had a fairly wild time before becoming a committed Christian: that included things like a little mild arson, but not fornication!" (p. 71) There was a serious point behind his repudiating any involvement with fornication: as Rector of St Aldate's, Oxford, he famously had a sofa in his study, "where scores of people knelt to entrust their lives to Christ!" (ibid.)
- See Toby Forward and David Johnson, eds, The Spiritual Quest of Francis Wagstaffe (Leominster: Gracewing, 1994), pp. 70, 71, 72-3, 74, 98, 123, 196.
- Randle Manwaring From Controversy to Co-Existence: Evangelicals in the Church of England 1914-1980 (Cambridge: CUP, 2002) 58
- Called to Serve, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1965.
- Man Alive, Inter-Varsity, Leicester, 1967.
- Runaway World, Inter-Varsity Press, London, 1968. US Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 74-78819.
- Evangelism in the Early Church, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1970.
- New Life, New Lifestyle, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1973.
- I Believe in the Holy Spirit, William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1975.
- You Must Be Joking: Popular Excuses for Avoiding Jesus Christ, Hodder & Stoughton, 1976.
- (ed), The Truth of God Incarnate, Hodder & Stoughton, 1977.
- Evangelism, now and then, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1979.
- Why Bother With Jesus? Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1979.
- Church and Homosexuality, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1980 ISBN 0-340-25483-1
- The Day Death Died, InterVarsity Press, Leicester, 1982.
- Freed to Serve, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1983.
- The Empty Cross of Jesus, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1984.
- World on the Run, InterVarsity Press, Leicester, 1985.
- Second Epistle of Peter and the General Epistle of Jude, 2nd edition, InterVarsity Press, Leicester/William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1987.
- Baptism, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1987 ISBN 0-340-41056-6
- I Believe in Satan's Downfall, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1988 ISBN 0-340-42543-1
- Evangelism Through the Local Church, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1989 ISBN 0-340-52916-4
- Exposing the Prince of Darkness, Servant, Ann Arbor, 1991.
- The Dawn of the New Age, Darton Longman & Todd, London, 1993.
- My God, Oliver Nelson, Nashville, 1993.
- Springboard for Faith (with Alister McGrath), Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1993.
- New Testament Spirituality (with R. Paul Stevens), Eagle Publishing, 1994 ISBN 0-86347-113-7
- Who Is This Jesus?, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1998? ISBN 0-340-72225-8
- The Message of Matthew (Bible Speaks Today Series), InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, 2001 ISBN 0-8308-1243-1
- But Don't All Religions Lead to God?: Navigating the Multi-Faith Maze, Baker, Grand Rapids, 2002 ISBN 0-8010-6439-2
- After Alpha, Kingsway Publications, 2003 ISBN 1-84291-024-8
- Thirty Years That Changed the World: The Book of Acts for Today, William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2004 ISBN 0-8028-2766-7
- St.Thomas Becket, Gracewing, 2004 ISBN 0-85244-590-3
- Avoiding Jesus: Answers for Skeptics, Cynics, and the Curious (Southern Icons), Baker, Grand Rapids, 2005 ISBN 0-8010-6561-5
- Sharing Your Faith With Friends and Family, Baker, Grand Rapids, 2005.
- The Books the Church Suppressed, Monarch Publications, 2005 ISBN 1-85424-698-4
- Lies, Lies, Lies!, 2009 ISBN 978-1-84474-391-9
- Compelled by Joy, 2011 ISBN 978-1-84474-542-5
- Adventure of Faith: Reflections on 50 Years of Christian Service, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 2001 ISBN 0-00-710542-8