The Theology of William Porcher DuBose: Life, Movement, and Being

Robert Boak Slocum, Marquette University

Robert Slocum. The Theology of William Porcher DuBose: Life, Movement, and Being. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 2000. Permalink:

Copyright ©2011 The University of South Carolina Press


Recognized and appreciated as one of the most original and creative theologians in the Episcopal Church's history, William Porcher DuBose (1836–1918) published seven books of theological importance, including an autobiographical work, and his life is commemorated in a "lesser feast" of the Episcopal Calendar of the Church Year. Despite making significant contributions to Anglicanism, DuBose's works are, according to Robert Boak Slocum, more widely honored than understood or applied to questions facing theologians and lay people today. To fill the gap of knowledge and understanding, Slocum's study of DuBose draws parallels between essential experiences in his life and major themes in his published theology.

Slocum chronicles the theologian's life—including childhood on a plantation near Columbia, South Carolina; education at The Citadel and the University of Virginia; years as an adjutant and then as a chaplain in the Civil War; and a distinguished career as a chaplain, professor, and dean at the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee. Here, Slocum brings out the impact of conversion, suffering, discovery, and transformation on the development of DuBose's theology and also investigates how in DuBose's own thinking, theology is deeply connected with the experience of the Christian life as lived, especially in the context of the life of the church.

In considering DuBose's theological system, Slocum finds an understanding of salvation that culminates in DuBose's theology of the Church, a pneumatology that serves as a point of synthesis for DuBose's work, and an ecclesiology that is preeminently ecumenical. Out of this he constructs an account of the relevance of DuBose's theological vision for the life and unity of the church today.