Wednesday, July 7, 2010

R. L. Dabney

Evangelical Eloquence: A Course of Lectures of PreachingEvangelical Eloquence: A Course of Lectures of Preaching by Robert Lewis Dabney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So far it is enjoyable, if a bit dry. Nothing really remarkable prose-wise, but content has a few notable issues.

First, his classification of oration is somewhat odd--it doesn't include poetry or anything that we would consider "just for fun." "The immediate end of eloquence is to produce in the hearer some practical volition."--page 30. "The end, I repeat, of every oration is to make men do."--page 34 But, if you just insert "sermon" for each "oration," it works out pretty well.

Second, he doesn't (and this surprised me, considering his uncompromising nature) consider it appropriate for a sermon to alienate. I understand this as a general rule, and I'm sure he just doesn't qualify it, or maybe I just haven't reached the qualification yet. Whatever. Just keep that in mind.

Third, and this was the big one for me, is that when speaking of the Sabbath, he seems to do what we all too often do--separate the week into secular and spiritual (page 42). The week is not ours with the Lord's Day being God's. The week is God's, and the Lord's Day is for us to renew the covenant that we broke over the week, and then start serving God in a new week. This is something that he lived correctly, but apparently taught wrongly, as it wasn't a big concern for his day. It is for ours.

Fourth, and this was an ouch, he seems to think that humans are rational, which we generally aren't: "How shall the heart be reached, except through the head?"--53. Generally, we should ask, "How shall the head be reached, except the defenses of the heart be superseded?" We don't use logos to affect a change in pathos, but vice versa.

However, it has so far been excellent, with a great wealth of invaluable teaching.

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