Professor David Fergusson (OBE MA BD DPhil DD FBA FRSE)

Professor of Divinity


David Fergusson studied philosophy and theology in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Oxford.  He worked for several years as a parish minister in the Church of Scotland. Having held the Chair of Systematic Theology in the University of Aberdeen, he returned to Edinburgh as Professor of Divinity in 2000. He was appointed Principal of New College (2008-18) and is a Chaplain to the Queen in Scotland. From 2009-11, he served as a Vice-Principal of the University of Edinburgh. In 2016, he was awarded the OBE for services to arts, education and the Church of Scotland. Following appointment by the Queen in 2019, he is currently Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland and Dean of the Order of the Thistle.

He has delivered the Bampton Lectures in Oxford (2001), the Gifford Lectures in Glasgow (2008), the Warfield Lectures in Princeton (2009), the Birks Lectures in Montreal (2013) and has lectured in the USA, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, South Africa and Australia. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2004) and a Fellow of the British Academy (2013). In 2014, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Aberdeen.  In 2016-17, he held a Visiting Fellowship at Princeton Theological Seminary. His monograph on the theology of providence was  published by Cambridge University Press in 2018 and is now available in paperback.

Recent publications include:

The History of Scottish Theology, 3 vols, co-edited with Mark W. Elliott (Oxford University Press, 2019)

Schools of Faith: Essays on Theology, Ethics and Education, co-edited with Bruce McCormack (London: T&T Clark, 2019)

The Providence of God: A Polyphonic Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2018) 

Cambridge Companion to Reformed Theology, co-edited with Paul Nimmo (Cambridge University Press, 2016)

Christian Theology: 21st Century Challenges (Tainan Theological College: Tainan, 2015)

Creation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014)




Responsibilities & affiliations

External appointments

Former Director of the Scottish Journal of Theology

Member of Academic Advisory Panel, Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton

Deputy Chair of REF Sub-Panel for Theology & Religious Studies 2014

Undergraduate teaching

Doctrine of Creation

Scottish Theology

Church, Sacraments and Ministry

Atheism in Debate

Postgraduate teaching

History of Science and Religion in the Christian Tradition

Scottish Theology 1700-2000

Church, State and Civil Society

Systematic Theology: Recent Perspectives

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

He currently supervises around 10 PhD students in a variety of areas including Barth, Edwards, Torrance, Pannenberg, Scottish philosophical theology, analytic theology, science and theology, and pneumatology.

Research summary

David Fergusson's research interests are quite broad, these reflecting topics on which he has lectured in the university and the church over some years. There are three specific foci of interest, although these are not exclusive.

  1. Reformed theology from the 16th century until the present day, with a stress on its dual identity as Catholic and Reformed. In particular, he has developed an expertise on the history of theology in Scotland in several courses and publications.
  2. The doctrines of creation and providence. Explorations in these areas have also included an interdisciplinary dimension in dealing with the natural sciences and psychotherapy.
  3. The relationship of the church to society, particularly with respect to issues generated by political liberalism. In much of his output in this field, he has reflected on the public role of faith in relation to secularism, atheism and religious pluralism.

Opportunities to lecture in several countries across the world have provided a keener sense of the different historical and cultural contexts in which these issues have to be addressed. His Glasgow Gifford Lectures (2008) offered a series of responses to contemporary criticisms of religion, these responses reflecting issues that have emerged from modern science and secular politics. This resulted in the publication of Faith and Its Critics: A Conversation (Oxford, 2009). This book was the subject of a panel discussion sponsored by the Templeton Foundation at the American Philosophical Society in October, 2012. It has been translated into Arabic.

More information about research projects by David Fergusson are available on his Edinburgh Research Explorer profile.

Current research interests

Monograph on the theology of providence, based on the 2009 Warfield Lectures delivered at Princeton Theological Seminary and the 2013 Birks Lectures at the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University. This will be the subject of a panel discussion at the annual meeting (2019) of the American Academy of Religion in San Diego. Editing (with Mark W. Elliott) The History of Scottish Theology, to be published by Oxford University Press in three volumes. From January 2016 - June 2017, he held an AHRC Leadership Fellows Award to pursue work on the theology of providence and the history of Scottish theology. At present, he is working on a one-volume systematic theology.

Project activity

Principal investigator for an AHRC Leadership Fellows Award 2016-17 on Reformed theology. This includes the co-editing (with Professor Mark Elliott, University of St Andrews) of the History of Scottish Theology, a three volume work published by Oxford University Press in 2019. For further details of this project see

Principal Investigator for an AHRC/ESRC research grant from 2010-12 – the project explores the relationship of theology and psychotherapy in 20th century Scotland. Three journal articles have recently been produced. See

‘Theology and Therapy: Maintaining the Connection’ Pacifica, 26, (2013), 3-16

‘Persons in Relation: the interaction of philosophy, theology and psychotherapy in 20th century Scotland’ Journal of Practical Theology, 5.3 (2013), 287–306.

'Engaging with a History of Counselling, Spirituality and Faith in Scotland: A Readers' Theatre Script' with Alette Willis, Liz Bondi, and Mary Catherine Burgess and Gavin Miller, British Journal of Guidance and Counselling 42.5 (2014), 525-543. 

View all 117 publications on Research Explorer