Academic theologian, born in Pontefract and educated at the King's School, Pontefract, Christ's College and Wesley House, Cambridge. After a period of missionary work in India and circuit work in Birmingham and Eastbourne, he gained a ThD at Harvard and in 1973 was appointed lecturer (and later Reader and Professor) in the Study of Religion at Edinburgh University. He rapidly became known as a gifted teacher, prolific writer and editor and media consultant. With an outstanding ability to interpret sympathetically the beliefs of one religions to another, he has played a principal part in the establishment of the Inter-Faith movement both locally and internationally. Universities and seminaries in South Africa, India, the USA and China have recognised his standing as a scholar by appointing him a visiting professor or special lecturer. He has written extensively on the history of religion, the humanities, the social sciences, spirituality, prayer, the Wesleys and essential Methodism, and edited the Dictionary of Beliefs and religions (1992). In 1990 he was awarded an honorary PhD by Cambridge University. His wider concerns range from the Edinburgh Cancer Help Centre to the Scottish Faith and Order Commission and the Society of Authors. He has a keen interest in sport, especially cricket.