Tributes to Robert C.D. Brow

…My condolences.  I am using Rev Brow's material in the completion of a ThD program from Trinity.

….I just saw from Bob Brow's site that he passed away on July 10th, 2008.  He encouraged me through my separation and challenged me on a few different theological issues.  Though the times I wrote to him, which were few and far in between, he remembered me and expressed the hope that everything was going well for me.  I'm gonna miss him.  Please keep his site up or make it accessible through CD.

…I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Rev. Robert, and I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to the Brow family and to his many friends.   I came upon his website some years ago and emailed him to tell him how inspiring his sermons were, and to seek permission to use them in my own parish.   I received a lovely email back from him giving me permission to use them as I wish -edit to suit my congregation.   I appreciate his willingness to share his great knowledge of God's Word with me, and the general public.   By doing so he brought and continues to  bring new insights into the lives of many.  Since that time I have used his sermons many times.   They are very valuable to me and my lay ministers.   I appreciate your continuing to make his teaching available to me (us).  I hold you, family and friends, in my prayers.   God bless you, as Robert has been a blessing in my life and the life of my congregation.

…I just read about the passing of Rev Brow. I want to say thanks to him for emailing about a source I needed for my Sunday school adult class. May the family be comforted. His legacy as a commentator will live on as he looks down from the place of true rest

…With heaviness of heart to receive the news that my friend and pastor, Robert Brow, has died. He was my true pastor at a country church in Millbrook, Ontario in the early '70s. He robed me and put me into the pulpit to preach my first sermon (John 15); we shared early baroque worship music sitting on my living room floor in the country. He drew me into a deeper spiritual walk supported by a vigorous intellectual approach to the Word. He never dismissed a question, and he never offered pat predictable answers. His web site is like none other. What question did he fail to address? I have not seen you for 35 years Bob. We grieved by e-mail Molly's passing and now yours. I will always love you, and praise God you are at rest. We will meet one day. What a day of rejoicing that will be!  Molly and you, Margie- gone before. My three children: Bill, Wendy, Tom. I will join soon. God is good.

In the End — The Beginning :  A friend of mine died a week ago today and I attended his memorial service on Monday. Bob was closer to my gran's age than to mine, but it wasn't until the last couple of years that I noticed he had gotten older. The death of his wife Mollie and a stroke took their toll on him.  I think I overlooked the passing of time because Bob's outlook was always creative and fresh. He didn't exhibit the rigid habits of mind that so many older people — and some younger people — seem to have. He was always ready to learn, to teach, to discuss, to argue, and to re-examine in the light of experience and Scripture. I think that is a great model of humility. Bob would just have called it being a disciple — a learner. I will miss swapping e-mails with him and going down to Kingston for visits. Bob and Mollie always showed me great generosity of time, space and spirit. (I think the strongest reply Bob ever gave to one of my less-than-thought-out pearls was a quiet, "Extraordinary.") I wish I were more like him. The great thing about attending the funeral of a disciple like Bob is the atmosphere of unfeigned hope and thanksgiving that hovers over the congregation. A few people had tears in their eyes, but the tears often went with laughter over some story of Bob's. I don't have a photo to go with this post. Instead, the creation account in Genesis 1 explodes against a background that is "formless and void." It helps me to remember that creative people like Bob come from, and return to, the God who creates and who makes all things new.

...I'm sorry to hear of Bob's passing, and sorrier still that we fell out of contact over the years. I have very fond memories of talks with Bob in the manse at St. James's. Bob was a great stimulus to my thinking about understanding world religions--his scheme for categorizing them was a fine heuristic that I still use in modified form in the course I teach on that subject here at Regent, as I did at U. of Manitoba. Even more provocative was his book Go Make Learners that thoroughly discombobulated this ex-Plymouth Brother and especially my rigid categories of "in" and "out" and "saved" and "lost." It was truly a seminal book in my life that has influenced some of my own writing, especially regarding the nature of conversion (in Humble Apologetics). I encountered worldviewish thinking via various Dutch-American Reformed folk before Bob and I ever got talking about Wittgenstein! But his concern for "models" was one I shared, and readers tell me that one of the most important parts of my book Finally Feminist is the first chapter on method, some of the best parts of which, I think, would be resonant with Bob's emphases.  So I'm very glad to have known Bob and particularly to have been able to transmit at least a few of his many good ideas to others. It has always both baffled and disappointed me that he has never gotten his due as a thinker, but some of us, at least, have been influenced for the good and can pass his influence along! Blessings on all of you as you mourn this fine brother,

John G. Stackhouse, Jr., Ph.D.

Sangwoo Youtong Chee Professor of Theology and Culture

Regent College

…My love and sincerest sympathy  to you all at this sad time.  Bob not only talked about God's love, he and Mollie lived it in every way possible. They both gave meaning and purpose to my life as I struggled with grief after my husband's death in 1981.  Bob and Mollie became my closest and dearest friends.  I will cheirsh their memory until I join them in Glory. May God give blessed comfort and His peace at this time. A special memory: sitting together in the evening at the cottage Bob reading to Mollie and I before prayers together.  Very precious times for me. Much love and continuing prayers

…As a nephew, I recall with nostalgia the deep sense of balance, calmness and devotion in this man of God, missionary and teacher. With Mollie, they represented to me, and I suspect to my sisters Christine, Dorothy and Rosemary, examples of educated and hightly creditable Christ-believers and followers, whose searching and reason made discipleship exciting, an adventure to be embarked upon with expectation of true reward in a deepened love for the Saviour. As parents to my cousins Rachel, Peter, Tim and Suzanne, Mollie and Bob could be seen as caring, fun-loving, and deeply interested and involved. These two were real examples of the best in parenting, if parenting is about developing in those whose lives you mold a similar sense of the joy to be found in relationships and in the deepest of spiritual pursuits. A good and pleasant memory of mine as a travelling student is of a few short days with the Brows at a lakeside lodge near Kingston in 1972 - enough to sense the significance of Bob's hunger for God, as seen over a lifetime also in my father David (Mollie's brother). Although observing only from a distance now for some years, I know Bob's contribution to the spiritual thinking of many, across continents will be missed. I know too there is a rich welcome for him into the eternal kingdom of his Lord and Saviour. (2 Peter 1v11)

…We have very cherished memories of Bob and Mollie.  Particularly we remember with profound gratitude their wonderful help and hospitality to us in September 1970 and the following months.  We had returned from Asia and were settling into Toronto.  They very kindly took all four of us into their home, helped us find a house, buy a car – and helped us in all kinds of practical ways.  They were an immense encouragement to us and we can never forget their innumerable kindnesses to us. And of course beyond that we were enriched through fellowship with them through the preceding years in Asia and through the following years after we settled in Toronto. We thank our wonderful Lord for His bringing them into our lives, for all their inspiration and encouragement to us and to multitudes of other people. While we are sad to lose Bob from this earthly scene we rejoice that he is now free from pain and triumphant in the presence of his Saviour whom he loved and served so faithfully through many years.

…I know Robert only through this website and have enjoyed these thoughtful reflections on God's Word.

...  I have warm and deep and lasting memories of my connection with them from 1980 to 1985 in Kingston.  I had the wonderful privilege of not only attending St. James' but also working with Bob as assistant organist and choir director, pianist for the evening praise service and Student Ministry Coordinator from 1984-1985.  I shall long remember cheese toast and soup on a Sunday noon in the rectory, and significant and formative conversations with Bob, which I refer to, to this day, when reflecting on how I came to my current vocation and profession.  I have come to realize that many of the most formative influences on my life's journey have been people who pushed the boundaries, who encouraged me to live outside the traditional frameworks, who offered new models, new ways of looking, new language.  Bob was one of those people for me.  He was probably one of the first and most significant connections for me in engaging my desire to move beyond traditional and predictable jargon and cliche in Christian theology and faith.  I came to love and appreciate the "slightly heretical" edge to many of his sermons, parables and fireside talks.  Bob's second major gift to me came in a simple chat in his office one day after a few years at Queen's.  We were discussing what I would "do with my life", my passions and possibilities, back when a narrower world view told me maybe I "ought" to think of missionary work.  Given that I was studying language, I reflected that perhaps I could do "translation work" in this or that country, or ministry in a country whose language I was now fluent in, or... Bob looked at me, and in his very straightforward and blunt kind of way, said, " you must think vocation before location.  You have to find the thing you love to do, and then you can do it anywhere."  To this day, that has been the mantra that has guided my vocational path.  And that vocation itself has influenced me to push my boundaries and theological world view wider still. I am forever and always indebted to Bob for those formative and life-shaping influences, which helped me to find clarity of vocation, expression of my passion, and a path on which I am ever and always compelled to "draw the circle wider, draw it wider still." My deepest gratitude to Bob, and my deepest empathy to his family and friends as they walk through the days of "without Bob", when in spite of our faith and beliefs, the finality of a life ending can impact so deeply in our beings.  May there be light for the darkness, may there be peace for the turmoil, may there be comfort in deep sadness, and may there be, in time,  shalom and goodness and wholeness and wellness once more.

...I owe Bob a great debt of gratitude for guiding me when I first went to India in 1963. He was farsighted and adventurous in his thinking. To him I owe my two years at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, studying Indian philosophy.  This was not the usual thing that missionaries were encouraged to do in BMMF (as it was then). But Bob not only suggested it, but persuaded the mission that this was the right thing to do.  He knew that I was to work with university students, so what better preparation could there be than to live in an Indian university student hostel. He knew that I had to understand India and its intellectual heritage, so what could be better than to study Indian philosophy.  My diary tells me that Bob took me to Varanasi (Benares) after I had only been in India a few weeks. He introduced me to Banaras Hindu University and to the person who was to become my lifelong friend, Minoru Kasai. Minoru, a Japanese Ph.D. student, had been in BHU 2 years and was ideally suited to guiding me around.. Bob left India soon after, but his gift to me of a perfect starting point to my life in India has put me permanently and forever in his debt. I look forward to seeing him in heaven and thanking him for his part in shaping my life under God.

…When Bob was Associate Rector at Little Trinity Church in Toronto he loved to tell the "Quilt" story to anyone who contended that the World's creation happened by chance. He told this so often that his wife Molly would protest, in love, of course  read it here: The Quilt  When the Brow's left Toronto to come to Kingston, among other  things, they were presented with a quilt enclosed in a large suitcase by the congregation of Little Trinity! P.S. I have cassette recordings of most of Bob's sermons while he was at LT including those at conferences, camp, etc. The originals have been promised to Little Trinity upon my death, however, copies might be arranged if anyone is interested.

…Tonight when I came home I was very sad to have a voice mail message from my friend from Kingston, informing me of Bob’s passing.   She read me the wording of the obituary, and to the statement “After a full life of love, joy, and faithful service” I must add a loud “AMEN”.  I started as an undergraduate at Queen’s in 1978, so was new to St. James at the same time Bob and Mollie arrived.  I was raised in a family of faith, but it was only in the two years or so before that I had started to gain an understanding and explore the gospel’s meaning in my life.  I therefore would say my University years in Kingston, attending St. James, was a time when Bob planted many seeds in the newly plowed fields of my spiritual understanding.  To this day much of my spiritual perspective stems from listening to him on Sundays, from time spent with him and others talking about his books, participating in the fellowship of Saint James and enjoying the hospitality of Bob and Mollie in their homes (I even spent two weeks with them one summer when I had to stay past the closing of the dormitories for engineering survey school – they were always so generous that way to us students).   I also developed a strong sense of Christian call to community as Bob didn’t let me just be a lurker at church – he pulled me into teach Sunday school and also visit a shut in.  These lessons and learnings have stayed with me.  Since St. James I have among other things taught Sunday school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Washington, DC and Jakarta Indonesia.  I have recently finished a three year term on my church vestry, the latter two years as junior warden.  I do not know that I would have participated in my faith communities in these ways were it not for the model of discipleship I learned through Bob’s ministry.  I have an image of him now being welcomed by the heavenly host and a welcoming voice saying “Well done my good and faithful servant.”  

…Bob Brow, Scholar, Soldier,Teacher, Missionary, Artist, Handyman, Priest and Friend,

a friend of God and friend to all Men. It is with deep sadness that we learned of Bob's passing.  Sadness for us, but real gladness for him.  He must have been tired now.  And what a reunion there will be in heaven. Bob and Mollie have loved and befriended so many in their life.  But not many families benefited from their faith, love and grace as much as Benoy and Joy Biswas and each member of their family. My personal gratitude was deeply rooted most of all because he accepted and valued our daughter Onilla, whom so many found hard to see beyond the outer shell.  Mollie was the most Christ like person I have EVER known, and her Bob relied so much on her.  They just gave and gave.  Their advice was always so sound.  Bob knew the world, and helped many who were in dilemmas, and yet there was no doubt that he was not 'of this world'. For Benoy and myself we can never be thankful enough.  They were the first people who visited us in Toronto.  When our first Christmas was ruined because someone stole all our money, they came by with gifts for our then small girls and made everything good again for us.  When Benoy went for his first interview, Bob sat and waited for over an hour till he was done. (Benoy did get that job). We went over to their house after that for a lovely curried lamb dinner.  Toronto became home for us because of knowing the Brows.  Almost forty two years, I have so many tales to retell with gratitude to God for bringing these saints into our lives. They were our guardian angels, our most excellent  endowment from the One from whom all good things come.  Bob gave Benoy his first tool box.  This to someone who had never had need to use one before, and was later able to put it to good use as the years have gone by.  I just love the Model Theology Website, and have always found real gems there.  Also, I was so glad to read all about Bob's amazing life.  Starting with the history of his forebears,  and all the various turns his life took; there was a richness in it all.  I wonder if there was anyone who has had as interesting and influential life as Bob Brow.  I will miss you Bob Brow, as will so many.



 …It is with sadness, and yet with that deep joy that comes from our sure and

certain hope in the resurrection of the dead, that I inform you of the

death this morning of my wife Rachel's dad, the Rev. Robert Brow.

Bob, as he always wanted to be known, was born in Karachi (now Pakistan)

and served in the Indian army during WW II. After the war, he enrolled at

Cambridge University (England), where, though an atheist all his life, he

was challenged in his first week of university with the Gospel of Jesus

Christ and, through a sudden and dramatic conversion, became a fervent

Christian.  (Bob's whole delightful story -- he loved to tell the story, not about  himself, but about God's grace shown to him and those around him -- can be  found here: Bob Brow Autobiography. He was known not only as a brilliant theologian, author, and discerning pastor but also as a true embodiment of God's great generosity and joy -- which Mollie shared in equal measure. Their life left a lasting impact on all around him. A true missionary to the end, Bob had already given away all but a small box of earthly, perishable possessions. And so, when he died this morning, Rachel was not surprised to see that his face reflected a wonderful peace, for now, through his Lord, he possessed that peace that the world cannot give and had now had bestowed upon him far more than he could ever ask or

imagine.   And so we do not "grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope" but hold

firm in our faith "that Jesus died and rose again and . . . that God will

bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him" (1 Thess 4:13-14).

L. G. Bloomquist

Home           Table of Contents

model theology home | essays and articles | books | sermons | letters to surfers | comments