Meet Wycliffe College’s first successful conjoint PhD graduate in Theological Studies

Shaun Brown

By Wycliffe College Blog

Nov 27, 2018

Shaun Christopher Brown will go down in the history books as Wycliffe College’s first successful conjoint PhD graduate in Theological Studies. His dissertation was entitled The Israel of God: Scripture, Ecclesiology, and Ecumenism in the Theology of George Lindbeck. Shaun is from the United States, and currently living in Amherst, NY.


Q: You began your studies in the ThD program in 2014, and bridged to the PhD. Why did you decide on Wycliffe?

A: My advisor in seminary got his doctorate at Trinity College across the street, and he had been encouraging me to apply for the doctoral program at TST. I came in wanting to do work on Karl Barth and I figured that Wycliffe would be a good place for me to do that. It wound up being a really good fit for me. But the fact that you can take advantage of the resources of the other schools is a big draw in coming to Wycliffe.

Q: Four years seems like a fairly quick course of study. But I’m assuming it wasn’t easy. What will you remember as being some of the greatest challenges during this season of your life?
A: My wife, Sherri, and I moved to Toronto and she had a hard time getting work there. So after I finished my coursework we moved to Buffalo. But it was difficult to not live near the school. I really enjoyed when I lived in Toronto – doing work with the other doctoral students and having other people to keep me motivated and accountable.

We also had a baby while we were in the program; that was another challenge. She’s 22 months old now. Her name is Adelyn.

Q: What have been the greatest joys?
A: I really enjoy reading and studying and having other people to talk to about theology. Professors Mangina and Radner lead a group every other Monday where students get together and talk about theological topics. I really enjoyed those, just getting to know other students at Wycliffe and some of the other colleges. Every school I’ve gone to I’ve enjoyed getting to know international students; people from countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia. It was interesting to get perspectives on theology that you just wouldn’t get in a lot of places.

Q: How did your studies here impact your faith?
A: I’ve been drawn to theology. I’m interested in ecclesiology and the Church, so the studying I’ve done has only worked to strengthen my faith and help me think through how I can serve God and the Church with the scholarly work that I’m doing.

Q: Tell us about your faith journey – beginning at the beginning.
A: I grew up in the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. Church and camp and Vacation Bible School were always a part of my upbringing. My parents divorced when I was little, but I still went to church with whichever one of them I was with that weekend.
Then when I was in high school, I felt called to ministry. I went to college and majored in Bible and Youth Ministry. I was an Associate and Youth Minister at a church for just under six years. My favourite part of ministry was always teaching; I was always interested in theology and major figures in the history of the Church.

Q: At what point did you realize God was calling you to an academic career?
A: About halfway through college, I was taking a theology class and we would have these really passionate discussions in class, and I would think “this is what I want to do with my life.” A lot of people have encouraged me in my studies over the years.

Q: What does the future hold for you?
I’ve been fortunate to learn from professors who are also devoted to faith and to the Church, and who want the classroom to be a place where they’re building up students. They’re concerned about students’ lives and not just their grades. Seeing professors preach in chapel or lead morning prayer was also important. I hope whether I am fortunate enough to have a full-time job teaching or in ministry, to follow in their footsteps by keeping my feet in both the Church and the academy.