Not many Free Presbyterians will have an obituary in The Times. So today’s obituary of Edward Greene, former elder in the London congregation of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, is a rare event.
Edward was larger than life, physically and phenomenally. A day in the life of Edward Greene was rarely normal. It was so till his death – even his obituary is extraordinary.
I remember a visit with my friend Roy Middleton to his unique and pioneering establishment in Oxford. Too much happened on that day to record it all. I lost count of the number of editions of Encyclopaedia Britannica I saw on the shelves lining the rabbit warren of his Pembroke Street tutorial college. I recall his disappearing through an apparently secret passageway in yet another bookcase.
He invited John Wenham to our sumptuous dinner, at which I had opportunity to confirm 1. my translation of a vital portion of Greek New Testament text, with essential repercussions upon biblical eschatology, as well as two other interesting theological points, 2. one about Wenham’s four-point Calvinism, and 3. the other about Wenham’s support of conditional immortality, concerning which he confessed that Rev 14:11 was the text which most challenged his own view.
Edward showed us some of the ecclesiastical sites in Oxford, and when we reached John Owen’s pulpit I recall Roy enthusiastically making his way up the steps and squeezing hurriedly round the door into the pulpit. It was a memorable day.
I first made Edward’s acquaintance when he arrived unannounced in the mid-1980s in Farr Free Presbyterian Church with an elderly lady, one quarter his enormous bulk whom he had escorted from Edinburgh in his aged Bentley. It was quite a sight, arriving after the service began, in a rural setting where strangers rarely turned up, and thus I ensured that this unknown stranger heard the essence of the Gospel. Unknown to me, he was already very familiar with it and, particularly and more importantly, also with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the essence of the Christian Gospel.
It was the beginning of 30 years’ acquaintance, exchanging New Year cards each year. His unique cards demonstrated his most obvious peculiarity, the use of an early English script where the ‘s’ is written like an ‘f’. Edward’s character, eccentricities and history can be better written by others, and I welcome this obituary in The Times and this opportunity to draw attention to it. It was good to know him, and I look forward to renewing our acquaintance in heaven.