UPDATE (April 28, 2007): Message from Northern Seminary
“It is with great sadness that we announce that Robert Webber passed away Friday April 26. We will be posting details on www.seminary.edu and on the AEF Call web site www.aefcall.org about the upcoming public memorial service in the Chicago area as soon as details are finalized. Please keep the Webber family in your prayers.”
ORIGINAL (April 27, 2007): Robert Webber has been battling cancer for some time and is now having a bad turn, according to Jim Hart at the Webber Institute. The last year Bob has been continuing his ministry despite ill health. Jim says pray for God’s timing in all this.
Bob has done an incredible amount of good in bringing people together and educating the church. He was the guy behind the Chicago Declaration and more recently, I signed Bob’s ecumenical document when he sent it to us. What a remarkable contribution to the family of Christ! See an interview with Bob on The Ooze. Bob is the author of the excellent book The Younger Evangelicals.
Thanks for this update, TSK. I’ve posted a couple of updates at IsaiahSix, but haven’t seen this latest information.
here is the message i received from someone else.
I just spoke with Joanne Webber. Bob had a particularly bad night last night and has experienced an increase in pain and other associated symptoms. These are additional signs of the approaching end. Joanne and Bob have asked for prayer, that his death may come in the Lord’s time with minimal lingering and a sense of God’s peace and joy. “Almighty God, look on this your servant Bob, lying in great weakness, and comfort him with the promise of life everlasting, given in the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (BCP, p. 462)
Grace and peace,
I am sad to hear this news. I have been encouraged by the forward-looking, holistic-minded writings of Robert Webber since the 1970s. His writings on the church and culture were particularly important influences at the time–even just in the fact that he was writing on the topic!
My favorite Robert Webber story comes from when he co-led a seminar on worship at the seminary where I was working. This was probably about 1998 or 1999 … and since I knew he was coming to our campus, I dug around and found my hardcover copy of his book, *The Secular Saint*. By then, it had been out of print for at least 15 years. During a break, I asked him if he’d mind signing a copy of one of his books, and he graciously agreed. When I pulled out this volume and told him it was one of my top 10 Christian books, he belly laughed, surprised and delighted. Inside he signed it, “This is a REALLY OLD book! Robert Webber.”
We continue to lose heroes whose dedicated work set the stage upon which we now act … Paul Hiebert, now Robert Webber. Surely, we are comforted in knowing where they are, and perhaps it is a good time to reflect on what things we are doing which prepare the way for generations who follow us, as Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall extol Thy works to the following one, and set forth Thy mighty acts.” Such can be our memorial to those who have gone before, our legacy to those we will precede.
I studied under Bob at Wheaton, and he signed several of my copies of his books for me. Now I’ll have to go back and see what he wrote in them. He was one of the most influential voices of the last quarter century in helping evangelicals rediscover the ancient church. He will be missed.
Bob was a dear freind, brother, mentor and father in the faith. He hated it when I called him “father.” He only wanted to be a brother–no accolades or special honors. But the reality is that he WAS a father in the faith to a great number of us in this generation and in the generations to come through his writings, his schools at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies and the Center for an Ancient Evangelical Future at Northern Seminary, and his years of teaching at Wheaton and Northern. He taught us that theology is not about the “what,” but the “so what.” And he lived the “so what” even as he showed us how to live and die in Christ. We love you, Bob, and pray for comfort for Joanne and the family (Steph, Lexy, John and Jeremy).
Well done, thou good and faithful servant!
Bob would never have wanted the accolades, but he was (and is) one of the giants in worship leadership in the 20th & 21st century church. His commitment to the importance of the meta-narrative in worship and particularly the celebration of the Christus Victor have impacted so many of us. The Institute for Worship Studies will be a lasting memorial to his insight and foresight in the rediscovery of the ancient church for the contemporary evangelical church.
One of my favorite of his themes was that we in the 20th century evangelical church needed to discover (or rediscover) that church history did not skip from the 1st century church to the Reformation, and that the 15+ centuries of church history in between could teach us so much. The church will be forever in his debt for his understanding and teaching of the Ancient-Future church.