"Do as I say, not as I do." It is not only parents who fail to model instructions for their children, but also teachers of preaching.
Robert Lewis Dabney was a nineteenth-century Presbyterian theologian who taught theology and preaching at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia prior to and after the United States Civil War. He is remembered for his powers as a systematic theologian, his defense of southern Christianity, and his life-long racism. A formidable theologian and respected teacher of preachers, Dabney's Sacred Rhetoric (1870) poised him to influence a generation of young preachers to devote themselves to verse-by-verse expository preaching through books of the Bible. Yet Dabney failed, instead equipping his students to preach--and modeling for them--topical sermons preached on mere fragments of text, often without context. Empty Admiration traces Dabney's thought and action from his preaching theory to his classroom instruction to his personal practice, revealing a man at odds with himself, whose students--not unlike children--preached as Dabney preached, not as Dabney said.