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Charles Raven (1885-1964): Professor of Divinity and Promoter of Science

IAN RANDALL
S & CB 30 (1)
April 2018

Abstract

Charles Raven (1885-1964) was an outstanding theologian and preacher of the first half of the twentieth century. Raven had a fascination with and a deep appreciation of nature. His Christian faith, which developed during and after his years as a student at Cambridge University, gave a further dimension of meaning to this engagement. This article examines a number of aspects of Raven’s contribution in the area of science and faith. He was a passionate advocate of the importance of careful observation of the natural world as a crucial aspect of the spiritual life. As a theologian – he became Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge – he argued that Christian theology was enriched by an understanding of evolution and that this message of science and faith belonging together should be taken into the public square. Perhaps his most important scholarly contribution in the field of science was as a historian. But he always wanted to be someone who had an influence far beyond the scholarly world. In this he had considerable success, speaking to varied audiences, in universities, in schools and in broadcasting. Raven was concerned that the Christian message should be communicated in an authentic way and his deeply-held belief was that engagement with science was an essential part of that task. His view was that the scientific method had given a new point of approach to every subject of intellectual enquiry. As a Christian thinker this was a development he embraced with enthusiasm.

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