David W. Bebbington

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David W. Bebbington

David William Bebbington

(1949-07-25) 25 July 1949 (age 74)
Nottingham, England
Eileen Bebbington
(m. 1971)
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisThe Nonconformist Conscience (1975)
Doctoral advisorDavid Thompson
Academic work
Sub-disciplineEcclesiastical history
InstitutionsUniversity of Stirling
Main interestsHistory of evangelicalism

David William Bebbington FRSE FRHistS (born 25 July 1949) is a British historian who is a professor of history at the University of Stirling in Scotland and a distinguished visiting professor of history at Baylor University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh[1] and the Royal Historical Society.


Bebbington was born in Nottingham, England, on 25 July 1949 and was raised in Sherwood, a northern suburb of Nottingham. An undergraduate at Jesus College, Cambridge (1968–1971), Bebbington began his doctoral studies there (1971–1973) before becoming a research fellow of Fitzwilliam College (1973–1976). Since 1976 he has taught at the University of Stirling, where since 1999 he has been Professor of History.[2]

He was President of the Ecclesiastical History Society (2006–2007).[3]

Bebbington quadrilateral[edit]

Bebbington is widely known for his definition of evangelicalism, referred to as the Bebbington quadrilateral, which was first provided in his 1989 classic study Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s.[4] Bebbington identifies four main qualities which are to be used in defining evangelical convictions and attitudes:[5][6]

  • Biblicism: a particular regard for the Bible (e.g. all essential spiritual truth is to be found in its pages)
  • Crucicentrism: a focus on the atoning work of Christ on the cross
  • Conversionism: the belief that human beings need to be converted
  • Activism: the belief that the gospel needs to be expressed in effort

Bebbington (along with Mark Noll and others) has exerted a large amount of effort in placing evangelicalism on the world map of religious history. Through their efforts they have made it more difficult for scholars to ignore the influence of evangelicals in the world since the movement’s inception in the eighteenth century.[7][8]



  • Bebbington, David W. (1975). The Nonconformist Conscience: A Study of the Political Attitudes and Activities of Evangelical Nonconformists, 1886–1902 (PhD thesis). Cambridge: Cambridge University.[9]



  1. ^ "Professor David William Bebbington FRSE". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 25 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Professor David William Bebbington". www.stir.ac.uk. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  3. ^ Past Presidents - Ecclesiastical History Society
  4. ^ Trueman, Carl (2011). The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Moody Publishers. p. 14.
  5. ^ Bebbington, David W. (1989). Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s. London: Unwin Hyman. pp. 2–17.
  6. ^ Noll, Mark A. (2003). The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. p. 19.
  7. ^ Stewart, Kenneth J. (April 2005). "Did evangelicalism predate the eighteenth century? An examination of David Bebbington's thesis". Evangelical Quarterly. 77 (2): 135–153.
  8. ^ Gribben, Crawford; Haykin, Michael; Stewart, Kenneth J., eds. (2009). Continuities in Evangelical History: Interactions with David Bebbington. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press.
  9. ^ "The Nonconformist Conscience: a study of the political attitudes and activities of Evangelical Nonconformists, 1886–1902". Retrieved 6 April 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Professional and academic associations
Preceded by President of the Ecclesiastical History Society
Succeeded by