The Theology of William Porcher Du Bose: Life, Movement and Being

By Kezar, Dennis Dean | Anglican and Episcopal History, December 2001 | Go to article overview

The Theology of William Porcher Du Bose: Life, Movement and Being


Kezar, Dennis Dean, Anglican and Episcopal History


ROBERT BOAK SLOCUM. The Theology of William Porcher Du Base: Life, Movement and Being. Columbia, South Carolina: The University of South Carolina Press, 2000. Pp. x +115, notes, bibliography, index. $24.95.

In this study, Robert Boak Slocum has provided a remarkably comprehensive, accurate, and intriguing access to the systematic thought of a theologian at once creative and classical in his inspiration. This admirably concise study will reward every reader in search of relevant and provocative themes, while introducing a most winsome and memorable thinker, whose way of "doing theology" was clearly far in advance of his time. The ability to present a brief, accurate, and fair synthesis of another person's thought is a great gift, and Slocum has provided a real service to readers in search of veins of living thought. The return for time invested promises to be very high indeed.

Because Du Bose's thought is systematic, the major themes Slocum identifies and describes interact and illuminate one another. Salvation (called "soteriology" by Du Bose) leads to a comprehensive view of the church; "pneumatology" serves as a synthetic element for all of Du Bose's work; and ecclesiology is inextricably linked with ecumenical conclusions. In an age of divisiveness and controversies which threaten to undo us, Du Bose's emphasis on the common, unitive threads rooted in the experience of the Holy Spirit is, perhaps, especially valuable; and his sense of truth being a corporate possession of the whole church is sorely needed.

Slocum is astute in describing Du Bose's methodology as a "spiral" developing its depth and power as it connects themes such as conversion, suffering, discovery, and transformation with critical experiences in his life. Theology, for Du Bose and his readers, is shown always to be deeply connected with the experience of the Christian life as lived, and therefore it is always relevant to and illuminative of life. Slocum is surely correct in assigning a central place in Du Bose's works to the autobiographical series of papers he read to members of forty classes of his former students at the reunion in 1911 and published subsequently as Turning Points in My Life. …

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