Robert McAfee Brown was a minister in the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, a theologian, and an activist.
He earned a bachelor's degree from Amherst College in 1943 and was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1944. Brown earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in 1945, and served as a United States Navy chaplain from 1945 to 1946. The recipient of a Fulbright grant, Brown studied at the University of Oxford before completing a doctorate in the philosophy of religion at Columbia University in 1951. He married Sydney Thomson, and had four children.
Initially, Brown taught at his alma mater, Union Theological Seminary, before accepting an appointment as Professor of Religion at Stanford University in 1962. There he became an international leader in civil rights, ecumenical and social justice causes. Brown campaigned against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and was a co-founder of the group "Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam". He was also a Protestant observer at the Second Vatican Council.
Brown left Stanford in 1975 to return to Union as Professor of World Christianity and Ecumenism, but quickly found his new post unfulfilling. He resigned and moved back to the Bay Area, where he taught at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley until his retirement in 1984. Brown was the author of 29 books, and his papers are now held at the Graduate Theological Union. Brown died on 4 September 2001, survived by his wife. A lecture series is named in his honor.
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