Evangelical Theologian

Harold O.J. Brown fell asleep, as Our Lord puts it, on July 8, just two days after his 74th birthday.  This magazine’s religion editor since 1989, he was a contributor before that.  The title of this column was inspired by his most significant book, among several significant books, Heresies: The Image of Christ in the Mirror of Heresy and Orthodoxy From the Apostles to the Present.  He died of cancer, which had plagued him for years, receded for a time, then came roaring back in June.

Dr. Brown was a mentor to many.  The word pops up repeatedly in articles mourning his passing and celebrating his life and accomplishments.  Knowing that one occupies that place in the lives of others is likely to make a man prideful, even arrogant, but not Harold O.J. Brown.  As calls, e-mails, and visitors poured in while he lay dying, he expressed disbelief that he could really mean so much to so many.

“Ahem, now that we’re colleagues and friends, don’t hesitate to call me Joe, Mr. Wolf,” he said to me on the phone, after I had started working for Chronicles.  I remember hearing students call him Joe when I met him, that August day when I was registering for classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  I had approached his office cautiously, hoping to meet the great evangelical theologian.  Rounding the corner, I heard loud laughter and saw...

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