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Sobering words from R. L. Dabney

December 12, 2008

The Presbyterian divine Robert Lewis Dabney would, I am certain, be flabbergasted by what passes as “Reformed” worship in American evangelicalism. Years ago he gravely warned:

“Blinded men are ever prone to imagine that they have religious feelings because they have sensuous animal feelings in accidental juxtaposition with religious places, words, or sights. This is the pernicious mistake which has sealed up millions of self-deceived souls for hell.”

Review of Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church, by John I. Girardeau, Presbyterian Quarterly 3 (1889): 467; also cited in W. Robert Godfrey, “Worship and the Emotions” in Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship: Celebrating the Legacy of James Montgomery Boice, ed. Philip Graham Ryken, Derek W. H. Thomas, and J. Ligon Duncan III (Phillipsburg, Penn.: P&R, 2003), 370.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Ames permalink
    December 13, 2008 9:59 pm

    Do you see such juxtapositions as Dabney referred to in the Sovereign Grace catalogue of “neo-calvinistic” P&W? I am thinking primarily of those which have been laundered by our blessed institutions for use in Fundamental churches, such as “In Christ Alone,” “The Power of the Cross,” “Wonderful, Merciful Savior,” and I think there is one more (I’m probably repressing it)?

  2. December 13, 2008 10:41 pm

    If I may say it diplomatically, I certainly suspect such “juxtapositions.”

    We would all do well, I think, to appreciate the suspicion some of our Reformed fathers had toward music (like this).

  3. Chris Ames permalink
    December 15, 2008 12:10 am

    Diplomatic suspicions noted. Sorry, it was a leading question.

  4. January 7, 2009 7:01 am

    Blind or not faith is the true mechanism for avoiding hell’s gates and transcending to the lord’s kingdom.
    This faith can only come from within. Some of the greatest faith believers of our time have been blind.

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