Early in 2017, a theologian and writer died, in his mid-fifties, on the brink of international significance.
Mike Ovey was my colleague, boss – and most importantly, my friend. He was also the most brilliant person I think I have ever known. He had recently become the Principal of Oak Hill College, in London, had books in the queue for publication, and a waiting list of speaking invitations.
Then it ended.
In this book IVP has pulled together Mike’s most important papers and articles, put them in one cover, and added articles by Mark Thompson, the Principal of Moore College, Sydney, Dan Strange, the Acting Principal of Oak Hill, London, and Peter Jensen, retired Archbishop of Sydney.
I’ve added a pen portrait.
As I have re-read Mike’s work, I am once again dazzled by the breadth of his reading, and the acuteness of his analysis. Whether he is writing about idolatry, truth, political trends or detailed exegesis, he can move from rarified argument to current reality in a heartbeat. He was passionate about truth and its alternative lies, God’s kingdom and the rebellions that resist it, true worship and the idolatries that replace it. Above all, he was passionate about orthodoxy, and identifying its death-giving opposites.
Mike was ‘A Theologian of Ideas’ – I think he was unique in that field – not just unusual, but one-of-a-kind.
There is a school of essay-writing called ‘The History of Ideas.’ Mike was ‘A Theologian of Ideas’ – Nietzsche, Anselm, Aquinas, Augustine, Berlin, Aulén, Disney, Foucault and Durkheim – they all strut their scintillating stuff, and come under his discerning eye. I think he was unique in that field – not just unusual, but one-of-a-kind.
And as the book progresses, he moves up to a platform in Jerusalem, and then finally in Nairobi, as he held a global meeting of 1500 Anglican leaders spellbound with his dissection of the West’s malaise.
That paper, the climax in this collection, was called by one theologian, ‘the finest single lecture I have ever heard.’ Time and again I’ve stopped reading and thought, once again, that what Mike wrote about is reflected in today’s news stories.
You can order here (UK) or here (US) – I may be biassed, but as I’ve edited this collection I have come to think that this is the most significant new book I have read for many years.
PS – If you have a blog and would like a review copy, email me with your address and I’ll see what I can do.
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