David Bains is a historian of religion in the United States. His courses explore the interplay of culture, theology, and religious practices. He teaches in several areas including: the history of Christianity, world religions, American religious history, biblical studies, and Christian worship. He is a contributor to the textbook Understanding Religions of the World (Wiley-Blackwell). From 2015 to 2018 he chaired Samford’s General Education Committee and was interim chair of the Department of Religion. A native of Hampton, Virginia, he majored in physics and religious studies at the University of Virginia and received his Ph.D. in the study of religion from Harvard University.
Dr. Bains’s research on worship, theology, and architecture appears in over a dozen publications, including The Future of Mainline Protestantism in America, The Encyclopedia of Religion in America, and the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Christianity. He leads tours of religious sites at the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the American Society of Church History. The video portion of his curriculum on church architecture developed for Samford’s Center for the Worship and the Arts is available online. Currently he is researching the intersection of denominationalism, architecture, nationalism, and urban development in Washington, D.C. He shares insights about religion in the United States on his blog, www.chasingchurches.com.
Much of Dr. Bains’s research has been focused upon movements for Christian unity. His early research examined Protestants’ engagement with historic traditions of Christian worship. More recently he and University of Alabama professor Theodore Louis Trost co-edited The Development of the Church, a collection of the writings of Philip Schaff, an American pioneer in the history of Christianity and in ecumenism.
At Samford, Bains has actively supported Baptist, Roman Catholic, and Episcopal campus ministries. Throughout his life, he has been involved in both the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church. Currently this is through Trinity United Methodist Church and All Saints’ Episcopal Church near Samford. He enjoys bicycling, photography, hiking, kayaking, and waterskiing. He and Martha, his wife, especially enjoy entertaining students at their home near campus.
Degrees and Certifications
- B.A., University of Virginia
- A.M., Harvard University
- Ph.D., Harvard University
Awards and Honors
- S. Louis and Ann W. Armstrong Professor of Religion, 2016-18
- Phi Beta Kappa, University of Virginia, 1992
- “Beliefs and Practices.”” In Future of Mainline Protestantism in America, edited by James Hudnut-Beumler and Mark Silk, 59–82. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018.
- The Development of the Church: “The Principle of Protestantism” and Other Historical Writings of Philip Schaff, ed. with Theodore Louis Trost. Mercersburg Theology Study Series. Vol. 3. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock, 2017.
- “Church Architecture Worldwide since 1800.” In The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Christianity, edited by Lamin Sanneh and Michael McClymond, 386-98. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016.
- “Christianity.” In Understanding the Religions of the World: An Introduction, edited by Will Deming, 325-88. Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.
- “Philip Schaff: The Flow of Church History and the Development of Protestantism.” (With Theodore Louis Trost.) Theology Today 71, no. 4 (January 2015): 416-28.
- "Architecture, Protestant, From the Nineteenth Century to the Present," "Religious Thought," "Worship, Catholic," "Worship, Contemporary Currents," and "Worship, Protestant." In Encyclopedia of Religion in America, edited by Charles H. Lippy and Peter W. Williams. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2010.
- "Contemporary Worship: Trends and Patterns in Christian America." In Faith in America: Changes, Challenges, New Perspectives, Vol. 3, Personal Spirituality Today, edited by Charles H. Lippy, 1-23. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2006.
- "Conduits of Faith: Reinhold Niebuhr's Liturgical Thought." Church History 73 (March 2004): 168-194.
- “Introduction to Islam.” St. Martha’s Guild. All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Homewood, Ala. April 16, 2018.
- “Star Wars and Daoism.” Faith and the Modern Family, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Homewood, Ala. February 25, 2018.
- “Philip Schaff and the Place of the Bible in the Organic Development of Protestantism.” The Bible and the Reformation: 2017 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture. Waco, Tex., October 27, 2017.
- “History of Christianity 101.” Nine-week series. Clark Center for Theological Studies. Canterbury United Methodist Church, Mountain Brook, Ala. March to May, 2017.
- “Congregationalism, Anti-Slavery, and the Claiming of Denominational Ground in Washington, D.C.” Spring meeting of the American Society of Church History, Minneapolis, Minn., April 17, 2015.
- “Job: Wrestling with God.” Four-week series. Grace Episcopal Church, Cullman, Ala. Lent, 2015.
- “Stones and Replicas: Using the Holy Land to Christianize the American Capital.” Annual meeting of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion, Nashville, Tenn., March 7, 2015.
- “Stones of Hope: American Protestants and Gothic Revival Churches.” Annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Baltimore, Md., November 24, 2014.
- Religious Capital: Representing Religion in Washington, D.C.
- Christian Worship in North America
- American Society of Church History
- American Academy of Religion
- Historical Society of the Episcopal Church
- North American Academy of Liturgy