If you have followed me on social media for a while, you know that I have a weekly segment called Thursday Theology, where I provide quotes from important theological thinkers past and present. A theologian I quote often is Michael Green. One of his apologetics books, Runaway World, had a big influence on me as a young Christian and whet my appetite for further apologetics study. I went on to read many of Green’s other books on theology and apologetics that helped ground me in the faith. He was very gracious in writing an endorsement of my book Classic Christian Thinkers: An Introduction even when he was soon to have heart surgery.

What follows is a brief biography of Green along with four of his provocative quotes on theology and apologetics that I’ve used in my social media Thursday Theology segment. I also react to these nuggets of wisdom by elaborating so we can feel their force.

Who Is Michael Green?

Michael Green (1930–2019) was a British evangelical theologian, apologist, evangelist, and Anglican priest. He was educated at both Oxford and Cambridge and had a long, distinguished career and ministry. Green served in various ecclesiastical and educational posts through the years, including professor of evangelism at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada and head of evangelism and apologetics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.

1. On God’s Providential Preparation

“What with Jewish faith, Greek language, and Roman Empire, the world was uniquely ready for the coming great one.”1

God providentially prepared the world for the coming of the Savior. The religion of Judaism revealed Yahweh as the Creator and Savior of the world and Jesus was Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. Koine Greek became the universal language, allowing the gospel to be communicated clearly. And the Roman Empire’s Pax Romana (“peace of Rome”) gave the Western world stability so the gospel could easily spread.

2. On the Person of Jesus

“The character of Jesus is immensely attractive. It embodies all that we ourselves would, in our best moments, like to be. . . . And the claims of Jesus are so startling that they stop us in our tracks and challenge us to make up our minds about this most remarkable person.”2

The most appealing part of Christianity is clearly the person of Jesus Christ. Whereas people fail to live up to moral standards, he exemplifies perfectly the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. He also makes extraordinary claims about being God in human flesh. And the best evidence that God exists and cares for human beings is found in the life of the lowly yet magnanimous carpenter from Nazareth.

3. On the Credibility of the Gospels

“[N]o books in all the world’s literature have been subjected to such thorough and persistent scrutiny over a period of hundreds of years, as the Gospels.”3

Green is correct in noting the extraordinary critical examination that has been brought to bear on the four Gospels of the New Testament. And yet these ancient biographies of Jesus have held up amazingly well. Such intense testing of the Gospel narratives shows how historically trustworthy and reliable they truly are.

4. On the Persuasive Power of Christian Evidence

“The evidence for the Christian case is very strong. Though incapable of compelling faith, it is quite sufficient to warrant it.”4

There is a difference between evidence on one hand and volitional persuasion on the other. The apologetics case for the truth of Christianity is indeed probative. It does not compel a person to believe, but provides plenty of evidence to justify the truth claims of Christianity. St. Augustine believed that reason does not cause faith, but reason everywhere supports it.

Michael Green was a careful scholar who wrote clearly and with an engaging style. A truly prolific author, he wrote more than 50 books. His diligence has provided all of us with plenty of doctrinal wisdom to consider.

Reflections: Your Turn

Are there Christian theologians that you’ve learned from? Who are they? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

Endnotes
  1. Michael Green, Who Is This Jesus? (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 1992), 34.
  2. Green, Who Is This Jesus?, 17.
  3. Green, Who Is This Jesus?, 154.
  4. Michael Green, Runaway World (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1976), 36.

 

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.



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