The younger of the famous "Baillie Brothers," D. (Donald) M. (Macpherson) Baillie (1887-1954) was a central figure in the theological debates attempting to reconcile Christian faith and the modern mind in Scotland before, during, and after World War II.
D. M. Baillie, D.D., professor of systematic theology at the University of St. Andrews from 1934 to 1954 and brother of Professor John Baillie of New College, Edinburgh, was born November 5, 1887, in Gairloch, West Ross-shire, Scotland. His father, the Rev. John Baillie, died when Donald was three, and the following year his mother moved her three sons to the Highland capital of Inverness to begin their formal education at the Royal Academy. The family moved to Edinburgh in 1905 to continue the boys' education at the university. Donald began in literary studies, but like his older brother he soon changed to philosophy, winning first class medals in both metaphysics and moral philosophy as well as the George Saintsbury Prize for English Verse. He matriculated at New College, Edinburgh in 1909, where he concentrated on theological and biblical studies with H. R. MacKintosh, H. A. A. Kennedy, and Alexander Martin. He also spent two semesters at the German universities in Marburg under Wilhelm Herrmann and Adolf Julicher and in Heidelberg under Ernst Troeltsch and Johannes Weiss. Baillie completed his ministerial training at New College in March 1913.
The outbreak of World War I coincided with the tragic death by drowning of Baillie's younger brother, Peter, who was just beginning work as a medical missionary in India. Baillie began his own pastoral work as an assistant in North Morningside Church, Edinburgh and in 1917 volunteered to serve with the Young Men's Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) in France. He had to be relieved of his duties there due to a chronic asthmatic condition which plagued him all his life. He then filled an interim position at St. Boswell's Church in Edinburgh before accepting his first regular call to the United Free Church at Inverbie (1918-1923). He later served St. John's Church in Cupar, Fife (1923-1930) and St. Columbia's, Kilmacolm, near Glasgow (1930-1934), from which he was called by the recently reunited Church of Scotland to St. Mary's College, St. Andrews.
A devout and ecumenical spirit, though not without moments of severe depression and spiritual distress, much of Baillie's acute intellect and intense will were exerted in the preparation and delivery of more than 650 sermons, several of which have been gathered in two posthumous volumes, To Whom Shall We Go? (1955) and Out of Nazareth (1958). His earliest theological publication, done at the request of Professor MacKintosh, was a summary translation from the German of F. D. E. Schleiermacher's The Christian Faith in Outline (1922), followed by the exceptional Kerr Lectures delivered in Glasgow in 1926 and later published as Faith in God and Its Christian Consummation (1927, 1964). Without question, however, Donald Baillie's best known work was his widely acclaimed essay on incarnation and atonement, God Was in Christ (1948), which went through five printings including a separate German edition.
Baillie's ecumenical interests and contributions were highlighted by his participation as a steward in the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910, as a Church of Scotland delegate to the Second World Conference on Faith and Order in Edinburgh in 1937, and as chairman of the Theological Commission of the Third World Conference on Faith and Order in Lund, Sweden, in 1952. In preparation for the latter he co-edited (with John Marsh) an inspiring challenge to Christian unity titled Intercommunion (1952).
As an elder in Martyrs Church, St. Andrews, during World War II Baillie chaired the local refugee committee, was the Scottish secretary of the Student Christian Movement, and was a leading sponsor of the experimental lona Community. Although not doctrinaire politically, he believed strongly in the need not only for increasing religious but also social, political, and economic freedom tempered by a prophetic critique of any unjustifiable inequities in these areas. In his last years Baillie served as convener of the Church of Scotland's Committee on Inter-Church Relations, which was exploring closer ties with the Church of England. Several themes of these discussions were expressed in The Theology of the Sacraments (1957, 1964), edited by his brother John and published after his death.
A rare combination of pastor, preacher, scholar, and teacher, Baillie died of emphysema in Maryfield Hospital, Dundee, on October 31, 1954, at the age of 67 years. Perhaps his life is best summed up in the biographical tribute of an American student who, like so many others, had travelled thousands of miles to study with him. "The death of Professor D. M. Baillie is more than the passing of a great Scottish theologian, more than the passing of a great world-Church leader, it is the passing of a saint among men."