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Today in Church History

January 3

Robert Lewis Dabney

On January 3, 1898, Robert Lewis Dabney died in Victoria, Texas.

Born in Louisa County, Virginia, in 1820, Dabney studied at Hampden-Sidney College, the University of Virginia, and Union Seminary in Virginia. He pastored Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church for six years before serving on the faculty of Union Seminary from 1859 to 1883 (interrupted by service as a chaplain in the Confederate army during the Civil War). For health reasons he later moved to Texas, where he served eleven years on the faculty of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. After his death, Dabney's body was shipped to Virginia where he was buried in a Confederate uniform.

A lover of the South, Dabney became the leading Southern Presbyterian theologian after the Civil War and a prominent defender of the southern tradition. His writings included a biography of Stonewall Jackson (1866), A Defense of Virginia and Through Her of the South (1867), and his four-volume Discussions (1890-1897). According to historian A. H. Freundt, "Dabney's style was terse, powerful and fresh. Interested in practical matters, he was concerned to apply Christian faith not only to religious topics but also to moral and social philosophy. Because of his willingness to wrestle with difficult theological issues and make his own critical observations, some have regarded Dabney's systematic theology as more profound than that of Charles Hodge."

- John Muether

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