Professor Stewart J Brown (BA MA PhD DTheol FRHistS FRSE)

Professor Emeritus of Ecclesiastical History


Educated at the University of Illinois, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Chicago, Stewart Brown taught at Northwestern University and the University of Georgia before being appointed to the Chair of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Edinburgh in 1987.  He served as Dean of the Faculty of Divinity from 2000 to 2002, and Head of the School of Divinity from 2002-2004 and again from 2010 to 2013.

He has lectured widely in Europe, China, Australia, India and the USA, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He served as co-editor of the Scottish Historical Review from 1993 to 1999.  In 2013, he was awarded the honorary Doctorate in Theology from the Reformed University of Debrecen in Hungary.   



Responsibilities & affiliations

External appointments

Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Co-editor of the Scottish Historical Review, 1993-99

President of the Scottish Church History Society, 1998-2001

Honorary President of the Society from 2006

Deputy-Convener of the University of Edinburgh Gifford Lectureships Committee, 2000-present

Undergraduate teaching

History of Christianity as a World Religion 1B: Reformation to the Present (lectures on Europe and North America)

Social Christianity in Britain, Germany and the United States, 1848-1930

Religion, Liberalism and Nationalism in Britain and Ireland, 1780-1850

Church, Conflict and Community in Britain and Ireland, 1850-1914

Postgraduate teaching

Creeds, Councils and Controversies 2: Reformation to the Present (seminars on biblical criticism, social Christianity and the ecumenical movement)

Religion and the Enlightenment: The Birth of the Modern


He has served as first supervisor of over twenty successful PhD students, and he currently supervises about eight PhD students in the history and theology of Christianity.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Research summary

Stewart Brown's research interests involve the history of Western Christianity from the mid seventeenth century to the present, including the history of the institutional churches, popular religion, and historical theology.  His research programme has had two main foci:

  1. The impact of the Enlightenment on European and North American Christianity, the religious Enlightenment, the trans-Atlantic evangelical awakening of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, early modern European Christian encounters with other world cultures, especially China, and the responses of the churches to early industrialisation, including the development of a Christian political economy. 
  2. The relations of church, state and society in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including the responses of the churches to the challenges of industrialisation and urbanisation (the social gospel), the 'Victorian Crisis of Faith', the role of religion in defining national identity, the Oxford Movement and developing doctrines of the church, revivalism and popular religion, and religion, missions and European imperialism.    

More information about research projects by Prof Brown are available on his Edinburgh Research Explorer profile.

Current research interests

Professor Brown is currently working on books on two subjects: National Religion and the established churches in England, Ireland and Scotland, 1846-1922, including the changing relations of church and state amid emerging democracy, the role of religion in shaping national and imperial identity, the responses of the churches to the social challenges of mature industrial society, the responses of the churches to the intellectual challenges raised by science, biblical criticism, and historical studies, and the impact of war, especially the First World War, on national religion. The book will be published by Oxford University Press. The religious life and work of the eighteenth-century Anglo-Irish philosopher and politician, Edmund Burke, including his conceptions of religion and the sublime, the alliance of church and state, and religion as a social bond. This will be part of the Oxford University Press Spiritual Lives series.