Biography

John Harwood Hick was a philosopher of religion and theologian.

In philosophical theology, he made contributions in the areas of theodicy, eschatology, and Christology, and in the philosophy of religion he contributed to the areas of epistemology of religion and religious pluralism.

Hick initially pursued a law degree at the University of Hull, but converted to Evangelical Christianity and decided to change his career and enrolled at the University of Edinburgh in 1941.

After the Second World War, Hick returned to Edinburgh and became attracted to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and began to question his fundamentalism. In 1948 he completed his MA thesis, which formed the basis of his book Faith and Knowledge. He went on to complete a DPhil at Oriel College, Oxford University in 1950 and a DLitt from Edinburgh in 1975. After many years as a member of the United Reformed Church, in October 2009 he was accepted into membership of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain. He died in 2012.

Hick's academic positions included Danforth Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at the Claremont Graduate University, California; H.G. Wood Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham; and Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham. During his fifteen years at the University of Birmingham, Hick became a founder, as well as the first chair, for the group All Faiths for One Race (AFFOR); he served as a chair on the Religious and Cultural Panel, which was a division of the Birmingham Community Relations Committee; and he also chaired the coordinating committee for a 1944 conference convened under the new Education Act with the aim of creating a new syllabus for religious instruction in city schools.

He also held teaching positions at Cornell University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Cambridge University. During his teaching stay at Princeton Seminary, Hick began to depart from his conservative religious standings as he began to question "whether belief in the Incarnation required one to believe in the literal historicity of the Virgin Birth". This questioning would open the door for further examination of his own Christology, which would contribute to Hick's understanding of religious pluralism. He was the Vice-President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion, and Vice-President of The World Congress of Faiths.

Hick delivered the 1986-87 Gifford lectures and in 1991 was awarded the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Religion.