Christie was the son of a Glencoe sheep farmer. His parents died during his childhood and he was apprenticed to a Glasgow draper. Following an evangelical conversion during D. L. Moody’s mission of 1874, he studied medicine under the auspices of the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society and became a resident physician in their inner city mission. In 1882, with his wife, Elizabeth Hastie (Smith), he began work in Manchuria as a medical missionary of the United Presbyterian Church (after 1900, the United Free Church) of Scotland. From Newchang (now Ying Kou), he soon moved to the capital, Mukden (Shenyang).
Itinerant medical work gave way to a chain of dispensaries, and after two years he opened Manchuria’s first hospital, which played a notable part amid the natural disasters and endemic warfare afflicting the area. Christie’s policy of training an indigenous staff culminated in 1912 in Mukden Medical College, which offered a full curriculum for doctors and laid the basis of modern medical education in the region. Elizabeth Christie died in 1888; Christie married Liza Inglis, a United Presbyterian missionary, in 1892. He retired in 1923 and died in Edinburgh.
Christie’s address at the Centenary Missionary Conference in Shanghai in 1907 articulated a coherent, christologically grounded philosophy of medical missions as integral, not ancillary, to the gospel. He argued for the highest professional standards (higher than some thought necessary in the West); due regard to local context, with deep respect for language and custom; the concomitance of medical, evangelistic, and pastoral work; the development of a skilled indigenous medical staff; and free treatment (healing should be as free as preaching). The last ran counter to much mission practice, and Christie’s own mission avoided financial responsibility for Mukden Medical College and other major developments. Christie, insisting on theological grounds that the Christian church should rise to the financial challenges of the gospel of healing, raised support for the college from Western and especially Chinese sources.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- Dugald Christie, Ten Years in Manchuria (1893) and Thirty Years in Mukden (1914).
- Liza Inglis Christie, Dugald Christie of Manchuria (1932).
- A. Fulton, Through Earthquake, Wind, and Fire: Church and Mission in Manchuria, 1867-1950 (1967).
- J. A. Lamb, Fasti of the United Free Church of Scotland (1956), p. 549.