Item description for Robert Lewis Dabney: A Southern Presbyterian Life (American Reformed Biographies) by Sean Michael Lucas...
Overview We see all around us that the world is on a quest for pleasure, power, profit, and position. Many Christians struggle to live faithfully in such a world and stay true to Christs command to be in the world, but not of it. Taking direction from the Puritans, John Calvin, and others, Joel Beeke guides readers to the biblical alternatives to worldliness: genuine piety and holiness.
Publishers Description Presents Dabney (1820-1898), a leading theologian of his day, as a representative southern Presbyterian who provides a window into the postbellum southern Presbyterian mind.
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Studio: P & R Publishing
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.34" Width: 6.32" Height: 1.09" Weight: 1.3 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2005
Publisher P & R Publishing
Series American Reformed Biography
Series Number 1
ISBN 0875526632 ISBN13 9780875526638
Availability 0 units.
More About Sean Michael Lucas
Sean Lucas is the Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Prior to this, he was Chief Academic Officer and associate professor of church history at Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. He received BA and MA degrees from Bob Jones University and the PhD degree from Westminster Theological Seminary.
Sean Michael Lucas currently resides in St. Charles. Sean Michael Lucas was born in 1970.
Reviews - What do customers think about Robert Lewis Dabney: A Southern Presbyterian Life (American Reformed Biographies)?
The Man Behind the Myths Aug 27, 2005
This is a carefully researched and written book about a controversial figure in American church history. The text is fully documented and was a pleasure to read. Some of Dabney's outdated ideas on race were disturbing to read. His service before, during, and after the Civil War as a leading academic in the U.S. was interesting and insightful.
Answered questions I had for years Jun 19, 2005
The review above is very helpful.
I became a fan of Lucas from his excellent pieces in the Westminster Theological Journal. He has really mastered his material, understands the broader context and writes in a very clear and concise style.
This is a critical engagement with Dabney, that tries very hard not to judge him unfairly by 21st century standards. Still it had the effect of diminishing my appreciation for Dabney.
While I share alot of his basic theological values (commitment to Reformed orthodoxy, Westminster-style, etc.), I concluded that Dabney does not have alot of significance for me as a pastor. As I've observed from his systematic theology text, Dabney really has nothing distinctive to offer that can't be found in better form elsewhere (Hodge, Warfield, John Frame, etc.)
All that is left to get from him is a window into an era of Southern conservative Presbyterianism. Even on that score you can find smarter proponents (Thornwell) and more sensible ones (Moses Hoge; Walter Moore; Adgar), so why go through the misery with Dabney?
Some things I learned: 1. He was intensely provincial. Only left the South (if you include TX) 3 times in his whole life -- twice to go to NY for Presbyterian business before the War and once for a short visit to Europe in his dottage. Compare that to a guy like Hodge -- 20 years older but spent 2 years of study in Europe, traveled around the country, had good friends all over the world. 2. Dabney's racism was not just typical of the South, it was worse than average. When his own PCUS denomination, at the peak of their pain in 1866, decided to move forward with ordaining black men, Dabney published a heated jeremiad against it. See pp. 145-6. He says that he finds it horrible that his collegues would extend love to blacks, as "I, for one, make no professions of special love for those who are, even now, attempting against me and mine the most loathsome outrages.......... to teach and rule over white ppeople, and make (a black man) a co-equal member with myself in West Hanover Presbytery, to sit in judgment on the affairs of white churches..I oppose........(blacks are) a subservient race..made to follow and not to lead..." 3. He argued in writing that a major reason the South was poorer than the North was because they spent all their money on taking care of their slaves! 4. His angry campaign against Union Sem.'s move is comical and sad.
I won't be reading any more Dabney. I will read more Sean Lucas.
Important and Accessible Jun 13, 2005
P&R is to be commended for introducing the American Reformed Biographies series. These works should be of great interest to the Reformed Community, particularly in those denominations that have a high view of Scripture. The series is being edited by D.G. Hart and Sean Michael Lucas - who is the author of this volumn.
Lucas, who did Doctoral work on Dabney, has a clear and confident grasp of both the primary and secondary sources surrounding the life of Robert Lewis Dabney. Nevertheless, this work is geared toward pastors, seminary students and informed lay people and not primarily toward professional historians. Anyone interested in the Reformed faith in America would benefit from reading this book.
Lucas covers Dabney's life in eight chapters which span successive periods in his remarkable life. Through these chapters we gain an understanding not only of the man, but of a generation's struggles to cling to a way of life that was being torn from their grasp. While Dabney was a pastor and theologian, the Civil war was central to his life's work and central to Lucas' narrative as well.
As Lucas unfold's Dabney's fascinating life, we are reminded that many of his struggles in terms of the nature of confessional subscription, the relationship between theology and science, and the spiritual nature of the church are still with us today. Understanding Dabney's struggles in these areas can help us be more effective churmen in our own era.
While I hope this book finds a wide reading audience, I do have two suggestions that I think would have made this an even better biography:
1. Lucas provides a very helpful chapter of evaluations at the end of the book entitled "Perspective". I would have preferred that he limited his evaluative comments more to this section. Earlier in the book, particularly in dealing with Dabney's views on slavery, the author's perspectives and comments intrude a bit too much (for my taste) into the narrative. I suspect that this is due to Lucas being a relatively new author who is carrying over the academic desire to show the "prof" how thoroughly he has wrestled with the material. Future books from his pen, and we can hope that they are many, would be even better if Lucas learned to trust the narrative more. 2. Lucas does not bring out how horrendous some of the war crimes committed by the North were during the civil war. This background would have made Dabney's reluctance to embrace the North after the war seem far less idosyncratic than he might appear to those unfamiliar with these atrocities. It is always difficult to know what to include and what to exclude in such a work. I simply fear that many readers in the book's target audience will not already have this background understanding.
You should note that I offer these more as suggestions than criticisms, because to a large degree they are a matter of taste and literary judgment.
This work is well worth reading and I commend it to all who stand in the Reformed tradition.