Scholar and history-making clergyman. Born in Glasgow and raised in Bathgate, McIntyre was educated at the Academy there and at the University of Edinburgh. He was ordained a Church of Scotland minister in 1941 and briefly occupied parishes at Glenorchy & Inishail (1941-43) and Fenwick (East Ayrshire; 1943-45) before returning to academia. Soon after the war, he was appointed Hunter-Baillie Professor of Theology at St Andrew's College in Sydney (Australia), rising to become its Principal in 1950.
McIntyre returned to Scotland to occupy the Chair of Divinity at Edinburgh (1956-86). He was also successful in University administration serving as the first Senior Warden of Edinburgh's Pollock Halls complex during the 1960s, Principal of New College and Dean of the Faculty of Divinity (1968-74) and, following the sudden departure of Sir Michael Swann to the BBC, Acting Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University (1973-74).
Elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1982, it was in this capacity that McIntyre made history by welcoming Pope John Paul II to Scotland. The meeting took place in New College courtyard on the Mound in Edinburgh under the gaze of the statue of John Knox (c.1513-72), who had precipitated the break with Rome more than 400 years previously. McIntyre also served as Dean of the Order of the Thistle (1974-89) and Chaplain to the Queen in Scotland (1975-86), regularly preaching for the Royal family at Crathie.
His books include St Anselm and his Critics (1954), The Christian Doctrine of History (1957), The Shape of Christology (1966, updated 1998), Faith, Theology and Imagination (1987) and Theology after the Storm (1997). Among his many honours, McIntyre was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
McIntyre died in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Remembered as a gentle and modest man, but with a sharp intellect, the John McIntyre Centre at Pollock Halls is named in his honour.