Notes from the Dean  

 

William Porcher Dubose, Priest and Theologian
18 August 1918

William Porcher DuBose is a serious candidate for the title of "greatest theologian that the Episcopal Church in the USA has produced." He was born in South Carolina in 1836, and attended the Military College of South Carolina (now the Citadel) in Charleston (32:48 N 79:58 W), and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville (38:02 N 78:29 W). He served as a chaplain in the Confederate Army, and after the War of 1861-1865 served as a parish priest. In 1871 he became a professor at the University of the South (an Episcopal institution) in Sewanee, Tennessee, became Dean of the School of Theology in 1894, retired in 1908, and died in 1918.

He was fluent in Greek, and well-read both in Greek philosophy and in the early Christian fathers. Among his numerous books, the best known are The Soteriology of The New Testament, The Gospel in The Gospels, and The Reason of Life. (Soter is the Greek word for "Savior", and soteriology is the branch of theology that deals with such questions as, "What does it mean to say that Christ saves us?" "How does his death and resurrection do us any good?" "How are the benefits of Christ's work applied to the individual?" and so on.) A quote from one of his articles follows:

God has placed forever before our eyes, not the image but the very Person of the Spiritual Man. We have not to ascend into Heaven to bring Him down, nor to descend into the abyss to bring Him up, for He is with us, and near us, and in us. We have only to confess with our mouths that He is Lord, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead--and raised us in Him-- and we shall live.

A good introduction to his work is A Dubose Reader, ed. Donald Armentrout (1984, University of the South Press, Sewanee, Tennessee) 0-918-769-06-X, paperback 256 pp. $11.

Thanks to: James Kiefer's Christian Biographies

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