Sunday, January 08, 2017

A Tribute to Mike Ovey. We need more Mike Ovey's

Today I woke up to the news that Mike Ovey had died. He was a great man whose life deserves far more than I can write here, but I would like to say a few words for why I am struggling with this news.

1. He had a brilliant mind that the church badly needs.
He taught me for three years during which he helped my brain work in a new way. He had a gift for getting to the heart of arguments, and following their trajectory. He used his intellect to look at every day problems in a way that many don't. For example, read his paper on victimhood, or his recent paper in Themelios on fear. We badly need this level of thinking in the church. We need more Mike Ovey's, not less. I just have to trust in God's loving wisdom, that in his economy Mike's entering glory makes sense

2. He wasn't Predujice, Paternalistic or Condescending.
As a council estate Christian I'm used to being treated a certain way by Middle Class church leaders. Not so with Mike. I always felt respected by him. Although he towered above me in intellect, he always talked to me as an equal. Although he was much higher in the British Class system, he never talked to me in a condescending way (although I didn't always understand his cultural references!). Although he was far better known in the Reformed evangelical world, he never discussed mission with me in a patronising way, but in a humble listening way. We so badly need more Mike Ovey's in the church, not less. I trust that God has a good plan for us.

3. He understood the need for both robust theology and contextualisation.
He knew that good contextualisation did not mean bad doctrine, but rather it would help teach and apply good doctrine. We need more Mike Ovey's, not less. I trust God will raise up other Mike Ovey's.

4. He prioritised God's word.
His brilliant mind didn't lead him to philosophise over the Scriptures, but instead he constatnly referred to them believing that God who cannot lie has chosen to reveal himself to us in the Scriptures. I wrote to him a few months ago to encourage him because during the recent Trinity debate he'd been interacting with certain Biblical texts, which others frustratingly ignoried. His reply, and his last words ever to me, included these words,
 'I feel more and more the force of Peter's question 'to whom else should we go?' [John 6:68] 
We need more Mike Ovey's, not less. I trust God will still see his word made known.

Thankfully, Mike has now gone to be with his Saviour. He knew there was no one better to go to, and he is there face to face with him. I do not understand why Mike is gone, because we don't need less Mike's, we need more. But I trust God has a good plan, and I know Mike is enjoying that plan right now in heaven with his Saviour, Jesus.

5. He was kind.
Probably the thing many of us will miss the most.

Lastly, prayers for Heather and the children