The Rev John Seldon Whale, distinguished theologian and renowned Congregationalist preacher, has died aged 100.

Whale, who lectured widely at North American universities in the 1950s, died on September 17 of heart failure at a nursing home in Edinburgh.

''His intellectual influence reached well beyond the parameters of one denomination,'' the Times said in its obituary. ''He was a genuine master of the pulpit, possessing great dramatic gifts, a lucid mind, and the authentic accent of authority.''

One of Whale's best-known works, Christian Doctrine, published in 1941, grew out of a series of open lectures at Cambridge University that drew ever-greater audiences and had to move to larger and larger rooms. The published lectures remained in print for half a century, regularly used in Anglican theological colleges.

He was born on December 19, 1896, the son of a Congregationalist minister. After First World War service in an ambulance unit and in the Serbian Relief Fund, he studied at Oxford where he received a degree in history and trained for the Congregationalist ministry at Mansfield College. He later taught there, then at Cheshunt College, Cambridge, of which he was president from 1933-44.

Whale served as moderator of the Free Church Federal Council in 1942 and 1943, then was headmaster until 1953 of Mill Hill, a private school founded by Congregationalists.

He became famous as a lecturer, particularly in North America, where he taught widely in the 1950s.

He was visiting professor of Christian theology at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, 1951-53; lectured at St Olof College in Minnesota in 1954; at the University of Toronto in 1957; the University of Chicago, 1959; and Princeton University, 1960.

In addition to Christian Doctrine he wrote The Christian Faith (1938); The Protestant Tradition (1955); Victor and Victim: The Christian Doctrine of Redemption (1960); and Christian Reunion: Historic Divisions Reconsidered (1971).

Whale is survived by his wife Mary, whom he married in 1926, and three of their five children.