Robert E. Webber, a theologian well-known for his work on worship and the early church, died of pancreatic cancer on April 27 at his home in Sawyer, Michigan. He was 73. At the time of his death, Webber was the William R. and Geraldyn B. Myers professor of ministry at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Ill. He was also the president of the Institute for Worship Studies in Jacksonville, Florida, and professor of theology emeritus at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.
Webber, the son of a Baptist minister, received his bachelor's degree from Bob Jones University in 1956 and went on to earn a divinity degree from the Reformed Episcopal Seminary in 1959 and a masters degree in theology from Covenant Theological Seminary in 1960. Eight years later, he received his doctoral degree in theology from Concordia Theological Seminary.
Webber began teaching theology at Wheaton College in 1968. Dennis Okholm, a student of his in 1970, remembers Webber as avant garde. "Unlike all the other professors, he had long hair, wore an ascot, which was the trend then, had us sitting on the floor, and instead of reading Augustine's City of God (he never did like Augustine) had us reading Dooyeweerd and Schaeffer and the existentialists."
Okholm returned to Wheaton in 1988 as a member of the faculty. He says Webber remained a "great lecturerthe best lecturer that Wheaton had in our department," but by then, Webber's focus had shifted from existentialism to the early church. At that point, Webber had written Common Roots (1978), a book that examined the impact of second-century Christianity on the modern church's life, worship, witness, and spirituality.
He had also written Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals Are Attracted to the ...