D.M. Baillie on the Person of Christ -- By: Arthur W. Klem

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 07:2 (Spring 1964)
Article: D.M. Baillie on the Person of Christ
Author: Arthur W. Klem

D.M. Baillie on the Person of Christ

Arthur W. Klem

The Scottish theologian, D. M. Baillie is a figure of impressive stature as pastor, church leader and professor of theology. His personal impact on his students has been estimated in these words of a former student:

From the beginning we realized that he was a giant and so great was our awe of him that we were in danger of regarding him as an Olympian who dwelt apart. We soon learned that he was the simplest and friendliest of men, the most hospitable of hosts, a born story-teller, a genius with children. As the months passed into years we discovered something else—he was a saint in whose transparent humility we saw reflected the beauty of holiness.1

When he died in October 1954, Donald Macpherson Baillie had just completed an appendix to, and the new edition of, his major work, God Was In Christ. This book presents us with a mature and comprehensive study of the person and work of Christ. Indeed, Rudolph Bultmann calls it “the most significant book of our time in the field of Christology.”2

There has hardly been a recent work on the person of Christ which has attracted the breadth of attention commanded by God Was In Christ. Baillie’s Christology has gained a sympathetic hearing even where Barth’s thundering doctrine of Christ, has been dismissed. For instance, in the recent case-book trilogy, two of the cases refer their readers to God Was In Christ for guidance in Christology. Apparently D. M. Baillie is claimed both by “Theology in a Liberal Perspective” and by “New Reformation Theology.”

In William Hordern’s very popular Layman’s Guide to Protestant Theology, the concluding segment is given over to what the author recommends as an adequate and up-to-date form of orthodox Christianity. The entire treatment of the Incarnation is a singularly lucid exposition of D. M. Baillie.

Professor Walter Marshall Hofton of Oberlin has made a notable attempt at writing an ecumenical theology in his book, Christian Theology, published in 1955. He speaks of his project in these terms:

The Ecumenical Movement has come to a common mind much more clearly on some theological topics than on others, but enough has become clear to make it possible for beginners in theology to sharpen their personal opinion on the whetstone of world opinion.

. . . What is the Christian answer to this problem, so far as the Christian churches and schools of thought are now agreed? If the student finds he is at odds with this ecumenical consensus, he must decide whether he is th...

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