Obituary: Edward England, 1930-2010

Edward England, one of the most important figures in Christian publishing for the last 40 years, died a few days before his 80th birthday in May. He will be best remembered for securing the rights for Hodder to publish the New International Version of the Bible in the mid 70s – the version that is most widely used by Christians today.

He started his professional life as a trainee journalist in Sheffield from where he moved to children’s books and then became an editor and later a director with Hodder Stoughton where he worked for the next 25 years.

His ambition was to develop the religious list, ‘restoring it to the glory of the early years’. He visited prominent Christian leaders, as well as national figures, he met authors old and new, to discuss their proposals and encourage their ministries. Household names were among more than 100 authors with his own literary agency when he left Hodder in 1980. He took over Renewal magazine – a forerunner of Christianity, and launched ‘Healing and Wholeness’ as well as Highland Books. At the height of the revival of the charismatic movement in the 70’s and 80’s this ministry was crucial.

Edward played a full part in his local church at Crowborough, and regularly visited Lee Abbey for an annual conference to encourage other writers. Edward knew times of suffering. His mother died in childbirth when Edward was five. He experienced the sudden death of Gwen, his first wife, and then, aged 63 when walking the South Downs, which he loved, he experienced the onset of a heart attack.

He and his second wife, Ann, who had been a doctor with OMF in Thailand, moved to Eastbourne when Edward retired, only for Ann to be called heavenward. In 2004 he and Katie, who had served with SAMS in Chile, married. Although Edward had no children, he often said ‘books are my children!’

Edward never gave up. He launched in 1996 a publishing house concerned with books written only by women, and in 1997, jointly with BRF, published Day by Day with God. Colleagues, authors, the staff team, friends and fellow Christians found in him, not a man who was driven by his work, but one who was called by the Lord to a unique ministry and who, for many people, was a modern day Barnabas – the man of encouragement – for whom we humbly thank the Lord.

Michael Cole

Image: Edward England meets Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King


Here is England's editorial column from the February/March 1986 edition of Renewal magazine, followed by his commentary article:

Conversion of the purse

Last year my wife and I had the privilege of having two very special guests in our home for a week. Professor Richard Foster and his wife Carolynn brought with them from America the manuscript of Richard's book Money, Sex and Power which has just been published by Hodder at £3.95. It gave us the opportunity to deepen a friendship that began six years ago when David Watson sent me Richard's first book Celebration of Discipline. Could this new book possibly be as rewarding? I think it is.

Why these themes? Money, sex and power sound terribly secular. The answer is simple. They are problem areas, and have been so throughout history, sparking off numerous works on the themes of poverty, chastity and obedience. The issues, says the author, are inseparably intertwined. Money manifests itself as power. Sex is used to acquire both money and power. And power is often called 'the best aphrodisiac'.

Elsewhere in this issue I have written on the subject of money, its dark side and its light side, sharing some of the things I have learned from Richard's book. Martin Luther observed, 'There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, the mind and the purse': Richard thinks that of these three, we moderns find the conversion of the purse the most difficult.

I guess he is right. The love of money has crept into Christian homes, into Christian missions and businesses, and it is by no means absent in the church. We need daily deliverance from its power.

Do you really want to be rich?

asks Edward England

Do you sincerely want to be rich? is the title of a multi-million copy bestseller in America. It is not a Christian book but if you are a Christian who wants to be rich there are plenty of preachers in America who will tell you how. One of them offers a 'Prosperity Packet' with 12 Bible verses printed on small cards. These should be carried at all times, read repeatedly, or memorised. A contribution to the sender would be an act of faith which would begin to release God's supply. The address is not available from Renewal!

From another source, evangelist Robert Tilton, whose television programme is aired for 30 minutes on 63 stations, invites you to join the Success-'N-life Club. The curse of the law includes sickness, poverty and death. Tilton preaches that we are redeemed from that sort of curse by Christ. You can have eternal life, and you can have health, and you can have prosperity. Confess it and possess it. 'It is not your attainment; it is your atonement,' claims Tilton. 'God intends you to be successful.' His own church, in a suburb of Dallas, has grown from nothing to 8000 members in nine years, but even in Dallas he is accused by some fellow-preachers, according to Charisma magazine, of preaching a Cadillac gospel.

Florence Bulle, a critic of these enticing doctrines, has suggested that such preachers should try to apply their teaching to situations in third world countries. 'Imagine Mother Teresa stooping over a dying beggar sprawled in the mud and dung-filled street in India to inform him that God wants him to be rich in this world's goods.'

But do these prosperity preachers have something which we have missed in Britain? Should we be taking a fresh look at what the Bible has to say about money? Have we assumed that poverty and holiness are inextricably linked? Have we underestimated the provision and the generosity of God? Are shabby churches and near the bread-line pastors more God-honouring than Cadillac Christians?

The church has not taught us well. When it speaks of money, and that's quite often, it is invariably about our level of giving. Yet we can give, apparently generously, while still involved in unhealthy business dealings or possessed by greed. The church gives the impression of being concerned with what we put in the offertory; Christ is concerned with how we earned it, what we keep, and how well we manage it.

If you need guidance as much as I do I recommend Richard Foster's Malley, Sex and Power, which is likely to be the most significant book in 1986. The early chapters on money have taught me more than any sermon I have heard. I can't wait to study in similar depth what he says about sex and power!

Foster suggests that Scripture reveals a dark side of money and a light side of money. We have to hold the two in balance, which is what the prosperity preachers fail to do.

The dark side of money

The dark side demonstrates the way money can be a threat to our relationship with God. It is found in Christ's radical criticism of wealth. 'Woe to you that are rich' (Lk 6.24). 'You cannot serve God and money' (Lk 16. 13). 'Do not lay up for your selves treasures on earth' (Mt 6.19). Foster points out that Jesus warned people to count the cost before they became disciples. 'So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple' (Lk 14.33). Have you ever been to an evangelistic meeting where that kind of statement was made? That is what Jesus repeatedly did.

If we accept the teaching on the dark side of money - its demonic tendency - we an have a greater appreciation of Jesus' radical criticism of wealth. Foster makes it clear: 'There is every indication that the rich young ruler had gained his wealth honestly (Lk 18.18-30). In the story of the rich man and Lazarus there is no hint of dishonesty related to the condemnation of the rich man (Lk 16: 19-31). In the parable of the rich farmer who tore down his barns to make way for expansion, we have every indication of honesty and industry (Lk 12.16-31). We would call him prudent - Jesus called him a fool!'

Had you thought of money as merely a medium of exchange? Foster portrays it as a god that makes a bid for our hearts, that asks for our allegiance in a way that sucks the milk of human kindness out of our very being.

The issue of money would be easier to deal with if it were all bad; then, he suggests, our task would be to denounce it and withdraw from it. However, 'to do this would be unfaithful to the biblical witness. The Bible contains a stream of teaching in which money is seen as a blessing from God.' This is the 'light' side of money. What a relief for those of us who have never been comfortable with money, but have never been comfortable without it!

Gracious gifts

Throughout the Old and New Testament we read of God's lavish provision. The book takes us on the journey starting with the original pair in the Garden of Eden: no shortages there. 'Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver and in gold'! (Gen 13.2). Job was a man of great wealth, and God restored his fortunes twofold (Job 42.10). Solomon's wealth was considered as evidence of God's favour (1 Kg 3.13). In the New Testament wealthy women helped support the band of disciples (Lk 18.2-3). Barnabas used his land investments to aid the early church (Acts 4.36-37).

Our experience, too, can resonate with the words in Deuteronomy, God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful' (Deut 16.15). Money and the things it buys can come as gracious gifts from a loving God, and can enrich our fellowship with him if we acknowledge them in that way.

Do you own a car? A house? jewellery? You don't, says Foster. God owns them. 'Closely tied to God's provision is God's ownership.' There is hardly anything more clear in the Bible than God's absolute right to property. To Job he declares, 'Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine' (Job 41.11).

Awareness of God's ownership

Does a house of your own free you from anxiety? Foster maintains that it is being aware of God's ownership that will free you from a possessive and anxious spirit. He tells how when John Wesley heard that his home had been destroyed by fire, he exclaimed, 'The Lord's house is burned. One less responsibility for me!' 'Perhaps,' says Foster, 'we need to stamp everything in our possession with the reminder "Given by God, owned by God, and to be used for the purposes of God".'

Do we have to give everything to the poor? No, sometimes we are called to control and manage money. We should be able to manage and use resources for the benefit of the poor. Abraham managed large holdings for the glory of God and the greater public good. So did Job and David and Solomon. Foster believes that believers can and should be called into positions of power, wealth and influence and even (wait for it) that some are called to make money - for the glory of God.

We need to know how to possess money without being possessed by it. We need to be able to own things without treasuring them. We need the disciplines that will allow us to live simply while managing plenty.

Which brings me back to where I started. There is gold in Money, Sex and Power, but is there anything we can glean from the gilded prosperity preaching in America? I think there is, and Foster has touched upon it. If , we are tight-fisted with our families, our pastors, our missions, we must remember the great generosity of God. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof' (Ps 24.1).