Tuesday, August 18, 2009

William Porcher DuBose

In my morning tweets, I update the world in general about the feast day of the day with a snarky snippet of saintly wisdom or history. Today I tweeted, "It's the feast of William P. DuBose who said, 'We need the truth of every variant opinion and the light from every opposite point of view.'" This is a brief quote from the preface of one of his many works of theology, The gospel in the Gospels but of course was written without any further reference about who DuBose was exactly or when he lived or what he did.

A friend of mine commented, "Boy, that is a (liberal) Episcopalian sentiment if I ever heard one." Little did he know.

I think it's hard to make the case that DuBose was a liberal. I mean, that's not normally what one would associate with someone who served as a chaplain for the Confederate Army. He was born in South Carolina, attended the Citadel and the University of Virginia, and taught at Sewanee. He's certainly not part of the Liberal East Coast Elite or the flaky, I'm OK, you're OK West. This is a Southern gentleman of the first order.

What I gather from the preface of this book is that DuBose's contention is that the Gospels show us that we need differences of opinion to get the full truth of the good news of Christ.

It made me think, in our current church difficulties, it is as if one faction said, "The Gospel of Mark needs to go!" and another said, "Unless you are a follower of the Gospel of Matthew exclusively then you are not a Christian. Luke and those other guys are heretics!" How ridiculous would that be. And yet how easy to fall into. Think: Anglican Covenant. [For those of you not following this debate, I don't think it's worth following.] How on earth do we resolve the disagreements between those labeled liberal and those labeled conservative? Or is resolution really the key?

DuBose ends his preface saying, "So let us agree to disagree, if conscientiously we must, in all our manifold differences; and, bringing all our differences together, let us see if they are not wiser than we, and if they cannot and will not of themselves find agreement in a unity that is higher and vaster than we." Amen to that. If a son of the South and a survivor of the Civil War can say that, then perhaps so can we.

3 comments:

it's margaret said...

Have I said recently, I love your blog?!

I do.

And, oh, I thought DuBose was blown up in some CW battle.... died in war while yet a Bishop....

it's margaret said...

My bad --it wasn't DuBose, it was Polk, Bishop of LA.... sorry!

Laura Toepfer said...

Thank you, Margaret! And I was trying to remember who you meant so I'm glad you reminded me.