Congratulations, Dr. Lucas!

December 14, 2013

Dr. Sean M. Lucas, Ph.D. '02, elected to faculty at RTS, Jackson

Westminster congratulates Dr. Sean M. Lucas on his appointment to the faculty of Reformed Theological Seminary, in Jackson, MS. Dr. Lucas completed a Ph.D. at Westminster in 2002, with a dissertation entitled "'Hold Fast That which is Good': The Public Theology of Robert Lewis Dabney."

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The Westminster Bookstore has several books by Dr. Sean M. Lucas available, including On Being Presbyterian: Our Beliefs, Practices and Stories, Robert Lewis Dabney: a Southern Presbyterian Life, God's Grand Design: The Theological Vision of Jonathan Edwards, and more!

Below is the abstract of Dr. Lucas' dissertation at Westminster

"Hold Fast That which is Good": The Public Theology of Robert Lewis Dabney.

This dissertation argues that Dabney was a southern Presbyterian public theologian who engaged public issues theologically as he saw them encroaching on biblical norms.

The introduction first distinguishes my understanding of Dabney’s approach to public issues from other recent historical approaches, emphasizing the category of public theology. In addition, I define public theology and set it against several other similar terms. The introduction concludes with a statement o f thesis and outline o f the dissertation.

In chapter one, the social, cultural, and intellectual context for Dabney’s public theology will be explored. Dabney’s public theology can be understood only by recognizing that Dabney was a southerner, a Presbyterian, and a professional who was expected to do public theology.

In order to flesh out Dabney’s public theology, the next four chapters treat case studies in public theology. In chapter two, Dabney’s public theology will be explored as he engaged church-state issues as well as issues relating to the Civil War and reunion with the northern Presbyterian church.

In chapter three, Dabney’s public theology of race and gender will be examined. Dabney believed that abolitionists and feminists articulated an “anti-biblical view of natural rights” that conflicted with “Bible republicanism ” and that their egalitarian views violated the biblical worldview, which sanctioned hierarchy and inequality.

The interstice of public theology with the questions of public, ecclesiastical, and theological education is the focus of chapter four. Dabney affirmed repeatedly the central role of parents as household heads in the education of their children, opposing public and parochial education as well as Sunday schools while embracing theological education.

Chapter five focuses on the relationship of theology to science. Dabney’s public theology of science placed him in the same position as the Scriptural Geologists, a transatlantic cadre of amateur geologists who subordinated the new science to Scripture. Dabney’s writings led to an engagement with James Woodrow, a professional scientist who took public exception to Dabney’s scientific writings.

The conclusion considers the relationship between theology and culture in Dabney’s thought, by examining the questions of Dabney’s cultural captivity and contemporary relevancy.