The Society was founded in 1827 to promote the religious principles of the Reformation. In the late 1960s it underwent a renaissance, as it sought to call the Church of England in general, and evangelicalism in particular, to doctrinal renewal (in distinction from various movements that were promoting inclusivism).

Its annual conference, currently usually held in Oxford, first took place in 1977. These conferences have dealt with a wide range of contemporary issues and historical themes.