Donald M. Baillie

October 31

Born in 1887, Donald M. Baillie was a Scottish pastor, teacher, systematic theologian, and ecumenist; considered one of the most influential Presbyterian scholars of the twentieth century. Baillie was Professor of Systematic Theology at St. Andrews University from 1934 until the time of his death in 1954.


Baillie believed that any Christian spiritual or devotional life needed a foundation based on a sense of the Trinity as a living reality. Beyond this, just as Jesus bore the essence of God through the incarnation in his life, he also bore the divine nature of atonement through his passion and death on the cross. For Baillie, the church truly becomes the body of Christ in the world to tell the sacred story of what God has done in Jesus Christ.


In The Theology of the Sacraments (1957) Baillie argued that the sacraments were concentrations of the much more widespread sacramental significance of everyday life. Why else, he posited, would Jesus incorporate the divine essence in something as mundane and commonplace as bread and wine? For him the sacraments were the vehicle through which the divine word broke into the wider world and sanctified it.


If Donald M. Baillie had taken the Spiritual Types Test, he probably would have been a Sage. Donald M. Baillie is remembered on October 31.


[Excerpted with permission from the entry on Donald M. Baillie by Samuel F. (Skip) Parvin, from The Upper Room Dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation, edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 2003 by Upper Room Books®. All rights reserved.]

Today's Reflection

Donald M. Baillie