John Webster (1955–2016)

The announcement on Thursday of John Webster’s sudden death on 25 May occasioned widespread shock and grief at his unexpected passing.

John Webster

John arrived in Scotland in 2003 to take up the professorial chair in Systematic Theology in Aberdeen, leaving behind the Lady Margaret Chair in Divinity in Oxford, a post he had held since 1996. His final move came in 2013, to take up a chair in the School of Divinity in St Andrews. At each step of the way, his career was marked not only by formidable theological acumen and learning, but by a warm personality and deep Christian commitment.

My first encounter with John brought each of these qualities into the open. He was at that time at Wycliffe College in Toronto, and I was a recent post-doc. I had been nominated for a job in the UK, and John was commissioned to give me a “pre-interview” to see whether it was worth the time, trouble, and expense to fly me over for formal interview. (This was long before the internet with its possibilities for other forms of “face to face” communication.) I found in him a kind, encouraging, and incisive interlocutor. The consistent testimony from his own legion of graduate students suggests my experience is widely shared.

John also had an association with SETS. In 2005 he delivered the annual Finlayson Lecture under the title of “Discipleship and Obedience” along with a further lecture to the conference (“Discipleship in a Globalized World”). Both were subsequently published in the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology (SBET 24.1 (Spring 2006): 4-18; and 23.2 (Autumn 2005): 148-165). The audio from these sessions is still available on the Tapes from Scotland website.

While he leaves behind a substantial body of writing to enrich the life of the church for many years to come, we mourn the passing of a colleague and friend, and pray for those nearest and dearest to him at this time, who feel his loss most sharply.

David Reimer
Editor, SBET

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