Robert W. Oliver was born into a Christian home in Bethersden Kent, England in 1936. From infancy he was brought up to attend the local Particular Baptist Chapel with which his mother’s family had been associated since the early nineteenth century. Converted through family and church teaching in childhood he was baptized in 1954 at the Bethersden Church.
National service in the Royal Air Force from 1954 to 1956 took him away from his home district for the first time. This was followed by studies at University College, London where he graduated with BA Honours in History in 1959. This was followed by a year’s study in the University of Nottingham leading to a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. He then began a teaching career in secondary education in Gloucestershire.
He was by this time conscious of a call to the Christian ministry and entered upon a part time pastorate in Cheltenham 1964–1967. His thinking had been profoundly influenced by the teaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones while a student in London and thus had moved from the original Hyper-Calvinism in which he had been reared.
In 1971 he commenced a pastorate at the Old Baptist Chapel, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. This continued until retirement in 2006. During this pastorate he completed a research course leading to a PhD through the London Bible College. On completion he was asked to be lecturer in Church History and Historical Theology at the London Theological Seminary, a post he continues to hold.
He is also responsible for teaching Church History in the John Owen Centre and in this connection is an adjunct Professor of Church History in Westminster Theological Seminary Philadelphia. He is also visiting Professor of Church History at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan and a Fellow of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies, Escondido, California.
Robert Oliver is married to Rachel and they have two children and five grandchildren. Dr Oliver is the author The History of the English Calvinistic Baptists, 1771–1892, published by the Trust in 2006.