Andrew Martin Fairbairn

Founding Principal, Mansfield College, Oxford

The Philosophy of the Christian Religion

Fairbairn’s lectures on the problem and mystery of the person of Christ cover three main ideas. First, he contextualizes his argument, addressing the philosophies of nature and mind which affect belief in a supernatural person. Then, he discusses the person of Christ, and the making of the Christian religion. He ends with an exploration of the religion of Christ, and the ideals of religion as expressed in religious practice, with a special focus on worship.


Andrew Martin Fairbairn was born on 4 November 1838 in Inverkeithing, Scotland. His focus was the central place of Christ in Christian theology and its place within the philosophical context of his day. Fairbairn’s career included preaching, teaching, writing, and lecturing, and was not without controversy. In 1872, he became a minister at St. Paul’s Congregational Church in Aberdeen, and in 1877, he was appointed Principal at Airedale College in Bradford. In 1886, he became the Founding Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford, retiring in 1909.

A member of the Royal Commission of Secondary Education from 1894 to 1895, his liberal spirit, rugged style, and deep insight into human nature made him an attractive and stimulating teacher. Fairbairn’s two most significant written works are Christ in Modern Theology (1893) and The Philosophy of the Christian Religion (1902). His other works include Studies in the Philosophy of Religion and History (1876), The City of God (1882), Catholicism Roman and Anglican (1899), and a volume of Studies in Religion and Theology (1910).

Published/Archival Resources