Reginald John Campbell (1867-1956), British Congregationalist divine, son of a United Free Methodist minister of Scottish descent, was born in London and educated at schools in Bolton and Nottingham, where his father successively removed, and in Belfast, the home of his grandfather.
At an early age he taught in the high school at Ashton, Cheshire, and was already married when in 1891 he went to Christchurch, Oxford, where he graduated in 1895 in the honors school of modern history. He had gone to Oxford with the intention of becoming a clergyman in the Church of England, but in spite of the influence of Bishop Gore, then head of the Pusey House, and of Dean Paget (afterwards bishop of Oxford), his Scottish and Irish Nonconformist blood was too strong, and at that time he abandoned the idea in order to take up work in the Congregational ministry.
He accepted a call, on leaving Oxford, to the small Congregational church in Union Street, Brighton, and quickly became famous there as a preacher, so much so that on Joseph Parker's death he was chosen as his successor (1903) at the City Temple, London. Here he notably enhanced his popularity as a preacher, and became one of the recognized leaders of Nonconformist opinion. At the end of 1906 he attracted widespread attention by his vigorous propagation of what was called the "New Theology", a restatement of Christian beliefs to harmonize with modern critical views and beliefs, and published a book with this title which gave rise to considerable discussion.
In the ensuing decade, Campbell continued to read and reflect on the literature regarding the historical Jesus. His study persuaded him that the historical Jesus was nothing like the Jesus of liberal Protestantism but was rather much more nearly the way he is portrayed in Catholic tradition. In 1916, Campbell left the Congregational church and was reordained as an Anglican. At the request of some old Congregational friends, with whom he remained on good terms, he wrote an account of the development of his thought in A Spiritual Pilgrimage (1916).