Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Reader

Ronald J. Feenstra

Second Reader

John Bolt

Third Reader

Richard A. Muller

Fourth Reader

George Newlands


Scottish Presbyterian theologian John Baillie (1886-1960) was a significant theologian and scholar who thoughtfully took up throughout his career the questions of how and why we know God. This dissertation shows that Baillie’s unique contribution to the theology of revelation in the idea of the mediated immediacy of God’s presence plays a formative role in the rest of his theology and is valuable for a Reformed theological engagement of twenty-first century theology. Throughout his career Baillie made several offerings relevant to this area of study, most notably Our Knowledge of God (1939), which has been considered Baillie’s most original work. In Our Knowledge of God, Baillie suggests that revelation is a direct encounter with the presence of God mediated through the natural world, fellow humans, the church and, most significantly and clearly, Jesus Christ. The roots of this conception of revelation as both mediated and immediate can be seen in some of his earlier published manuscripts as well as his early journal articles. Even after the publication of Our Knowledge of God, Baillie continued to return to and build upon the theological perspective he had articulated there. This dissertation uniquely contextualizes Baillie’s thesis on the nature of divine revelation by examining some of his unpublished course lectures and private correspondence, only recently publicly available by The Baillie Project archive at Edinburgh University Library Special Collections Department. Examination of the large volume of Baillie’s varied writings reveals that his conception of God’s revealing presence as a mediated immediacy both played a formative role in his theology and was an idea he labored to articulate in an ever-changing theological and ecclesiastical context. Baillie’s theology of revelation remains relevant today. This dissertation demonstrates Baillie’s relevance by showing the substantial common ground Baillie shares with contemporary Reformed epistemology by means of a comparison between Baillie and Alvin Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief.



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