What a beautiful city we are privileged to live in! Those dreaming spires remind the world that the Christian faith has been believed, but also attacked in many different ways over the centuries. Oxford Christian students this week hosted an OICCU mission with Evangelist Rico Tice from All Souls Church London. But, as you might expect, not all were uniformly pleased to have the preacher in town. It ever was thus. In 1941 Dr Martyn Lloyds Jones was leading a similar such event at the University Church of St Mary’s in Oxford. Some felt that his unsophisticated evangelistic message was inappropriate for the Oxford Intellectual elite. But he wisely replied
I regarded undergraduates and indeed graduates of Oxford University as being just common human clay and miserable sinners like everybody else, else, and held the view that their needs were precisely the same as those of the agricultural labourer or anyone else. I had preached as I had done quite deliberately … there is no greater fallacy than to think that you need a gospel for special types of people (Preaching and Preachers p.129)
Local Churches, led by Rev Charlie Cleverly of St Aldate’s Church Oxford have stood out against the broadcast of the Muslim call to prayer in the city (see Seven reasons for reticence as regards an Islamic prayer call in Oxford). In the tourist board you can buy a photo of the Oxford skyline with an artist’s impression of what it would look like with Mosque Domes added. And just this past week I walked some German friends through Oxford. It is still sobering to stand on X-marked spot in the middle of Broad Street where Hugh Latimer, Nicolas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer were burnt at the stake in 1555-6. This is a city with a Christian history. Our University motto is The Lord is my Light, taken from Psalm 27. What a wonderful city this is… to be living and learning is Oxford is the stuff dreams are made of. But, there is a harsh reality that, for all the dreamy romanticism, the cold and cruel winds blow. But that famous psalm continues: The LORD is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid? Great words indeed and words which strengthen my backbone somewhat!