Charles E. Raven

Charles Earle Raven (4 July 1885 – 8 July 1964) was an English theologian, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and Master of Christ's College, Cambridge. His works have been influential in the history of science publishing on the positive effects that theology has had upon modern science.[1]


Raven was born in Paddington, London. Raven was educated at Uppingham School.[2] He obtained an open classical scholarship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, after graduation he was lecturer in divinity, fellow and dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.[3] In 1932, he was elected Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, a position he held until 1950. He was Master of Christ's College, Cambridge (1939-1950).[3]

During the First World War he served as a chaplain to the forces and what he witnessed led him to take a pacifist position, a subject which again he wrote on extensively for the rest of his life. As a pacifist, he was an active supporter of the Peace Pledge Union and the Fellowship of Reconciliation.[4]

He married Margaret Ermyntrude Buchanan Wollaston in 1910, they had four children.[2] Raven was the father of John Raven, the classical scholar and botanist, and grandfather of Andrew Raven and Sarah Raven.[5] He won the James Tait Black Award in 1947 for his book English Naturalists from Neckam to Ray.

He was a clergyman in the Church of England and attained the rank of canon. He was the Gifford Lecturer for 1950–1952 in Natural Religion and Christian Theology, Edinburgh University.[2]

Some of writings have been described as an early example of ecotheology.[6]


Raven was an advocate of non-Darwinian evolutionary theories such as Lamarckism. He also supported the theistic evolution of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.[7]

Historian Peter J. Bowler has written that Raven's book The Creator Spirit, "outlined the case for a nonmaterialistic biology as the foundation for a renewed natural theology."[7]

List of selected publications

  • What think ye of Christ? (1916)
  • Christian Socialism, 1848-1854 (1920)
  • Apollinarianism: An Essay on the Christology of the Early Church (1923)
  • In Praise of Birds (1925)
  • The Creator Spirit (1927)
  • Women and the Ministry (1929)
  • A Wanderer's Way (1929)
  • The Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ (1933)
  • Raven, Charles E. (1950) [1942]. John Ray, naturalist: his life and works (2nd ed.). Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521310833.
  • Science, Religion, and the Future, a course of eight lectures (1943)
  • Raven, Charles E. (1947). English naturalists from Neckham to Ray: a study of the making if the modern world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108016346.
  • Raven, Charles E. (1947). English Naturalists from Neckam to Ray: A Study of the Making of the Modern World. Cambridge University Press. p. 162. ISBN 978-1-108-01634-6.
  • Alex Wood: the man and his message (1952)
  • The Theological Basis of Christian Pacifism. London: The Fellowship of Reconciliation (1952)
  • Natural Religion and Christian Theology (1953)
  • Science, Medicine and Morals: A Survey and a Suggestion (1959)
  • Paul and the Gospel of Jesus (1960)
  • Teilhard de Chardin: Scientist and Seer (1962)


  1. Religious Origins of Modern Science, Eugene Marion Klaaren, Eerdmans, 1977, ISBN 0-8028-1683-5, 244 pages, p. 4
  2. Poon 2017.
  3. Randall, Ian M. (2015). Evangelical Spirituality, Science, and Mission: A Study of Charles Raven (1885-1964), Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University. Anglican and Episcopal History 84 (1): 20-48.
  4. Pacifism in the Twentieth Century, by Peter Brock and Nigel Young. Syracuse University Press, New York, 1999 ISBN 0-8156-8125-9 (p.101).
  5. Obituary of Andrew Raven, The Guardian 10 October 2005
  6. Bouma-Prediger, Steven. (2017). Early Ecotheology and Joseph Sittler. Lit Verlag. pp. 145-158. ISBN 978-3-643-90837-7
  7. Bowler, Peter J. (2004). The Specter of Darwinism: The Popular Image of Darwinism in Early Twentieth Century Britain. In Abigail Lustig, Robert J. Richards, Michael Ruse. Darwinian Heresies. Cambridge University Press. pp. 61-62. ISBN 0-521-81516-9

Further reading

Academic offices
Preceded by
Alexander Nairne
Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge
Succeeded by
Michael Ramsey
Preceded by
Charles Galton Darwin
Master of Christ's College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Brian Downs
Preceded by
Henry Thirkill
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
Sydney Castle Roberts
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