David W. Bebbington (born 1949) is a historian who is both Professor of History at the University of Stirling in Scotland and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, as well as an adjunct professor at Baylor University's Truett Seminary. An undergraduate at Jesus College, Cambridge (1968–71), Bebbington began his doctoral studies there (1971–73) before becoming a research fellow of Fitzwilliam College (1973–76). Since 1976 he has taught at the University of Stirling, where since 1999 he has been Professor of History. His principal research interests are in the history of politics, religion, and society in Great Britain from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, and in the history of the global evangelical movement.
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. Bebbington identifies four main qualities which are to be used in defining evangelical convictions and attitudes:
- 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.
Bebbington is married to Eileen, and has a daughter Anne Bebbington and granddaughter Becky. He lives in the village of Bridge of Allan and is a longtime member of Stirling Baptist Church, where he has held various positions of leadership. He is also a regular lay preacher for churches affiliated to the Baptist Union of Scotland. Though, currently, resides in Waco, Texas where he is teaching and researching at Baylor.
- Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (1989)
- Victorian Nonconformity (1992)
- William Ewart Gladstone: Faith and Politics in Victorian Britain (1993)
- Holiness in Nineteenth-Century England (2000)
- The Mind of Gladstone: Religion. Homer and Politics (Oxford University Press, 2004)
- The Dominance of Evangelicalism: The Age of Spurgeon and Moody (Intervarsity Press, 2005)
- Baptists Through the Centuries: A History of a Global People (Baylor University Press, 2010)
- Victorian Religious Revivals: Culture and Piety in Local and Global Contexts (Oxford University Press, 2012)
- Trueman, Carl (2011). The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Moody Publishers. p. 14.
- David W. Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989), 2-17; Mark A. Noll, The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003), 19.
- In Evangelicalism in Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s, Bebbington argues that evangelicalism began, as it is described in his quadrilateral, as a result of the Enlightenment. For more discussion on this see Kenneth J. Stewart, “Did evangelicalism predate the eighteenth century? An examination of David Bebbington's thesis.” Evangelical Quarterly, Apr2005, Vol. 77 Issue 2, p135-153. See also Crawford Gribben, Michael Haykin and Kenneth J. Stewart (eds), Continuities in Evangelical History: Interactions with David Bebbington (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2009).
- Book Review of The Dominance of Evangelicalism: The Age of Spurgeon and Moody (2005) http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2005/006/17.17.html
- University of Stirling staff page
- Works by or about David Bebbington in libraries (WorldCat catalog)