John Caird

Principal, University of Glasgow

The Fundamental Ideas of Christianity

In his two series of lectures, Caird seeks to synthesise biblical exegesis with philosophical theology. Beginning with the distinction between natural and revealed religion, he goes on to outline the basics of Christian doctrine, asserting that philosophy and natural theology are neatly united in the person of Christ. Caird presents a challenging and robust defence of the intention and philosophical rigour of natural theology.


John Caird was born on 15 December 1820 in Greenock, Scotland. He was a leading force in promoting Hegelian idealism in Scotland and championed religious tolerance. From 1847, he spent many years as a Church of Scotland minister, delivering sermons that appealed to an intellectual audience. In 1860, the University of Glasgow awarded Caird with an honorary degree of D.D., and in 1862, he was appointed Professor of Theology. University Senate unanimously petitioned Queen Victoria to appoint Caird to the Principalship in 1873.

In addition to preaching in the University Chapel, he campaigned publicly for extending full university privileges to women. Caird’s publications are relatively scant for a person of his position. A volume of his sermons was published in 1858, and a volume of sermon-essays appeared in 1863, reprinted from Good Words. Caird made two contributions to the famous Scotch Sermons (1880). Others include Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (1880), his volume on Spinoza in Blackwood’s Philosophical Classics series (1888), and his University Sermons, 1873–98 (1899), and University Addresses (1899).