Magazine article The Christian Century

Theologian-Bioethicist J. Robert Nelson Dies

Magazine article The Christian Century

Theologian-Bioethicist J. Robert Nelson Dies

Article excerpt

John Robert Nelson, a pioneering proponent of church unity who was later prominent for his theological contributions to biomedical ethics, died July 6 at a Houston hospital of cancer and complications. He was 84.

Nelson, a Methodist, should be listed among the top U.S. ecumenists of the last half-century, said Martin E. Marry, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago. After being present at the first World Council of Churches General Assembly in 1948 and studying theology in Europe, Nelson became the program executive for the WCC's Faith and Order Commission in 1953 and articulated the ecumenical vision in several books.

"If the ecumenical movement in that form is not the center of excitement now, this is largely because of what it achieved: it brought about unimaginable differences in interchurch relations, off which we now live and many take for granted," said Marty, an editor at the CENTURY, which often published articles by Nelson during his longtime tenure as one of its editors-at-large.

While dean of the Vanderbilt Divinity School from 1957 to 1960, Nelson assembled an outstanding faculty and was active in desegregation efforts in Nashville. …

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