Bringing Baptists Back to Their Roots

Introducing Davenant Hall’s new Baptist Studies track

Protestantism was never meant to be anarchy. Today, every church does what is right in its own eyes to the detriment of the health of the church. The Davenant Institute seeks to draw from our rich tradition and to stand on the shoulders of giants, as we find contemporary application for time-tested doctrines.

From the beginning, Davenant Hall has been dedicated to our various and overlapping rich, historical confessions, and our desire has been to equip ministers to serve faithfully within their denominations even while drawing from our common reformed tradition. Davenant Hall first launched courses in 2019, then its Certificate and Standard M.Litt. in Classical Protestantism in 2020. In 2022, Davenant Hall launched its new Pastoral M.Litt program with two sub-tracks for Anglican Studies and Presbyterian / Reformed Studies. This upcoming fall 2023, we are pleased to announce the addition of a Baptist Studies track.

Baptist denominations are suffering from the influence worldly philosophies have had on unmoored churches and congregants. Pastors not rooted in the faith of their fathers are powerless to stop the tide of secular modernity flooding their parishes, causing division, confusion, and worldly responses to the trials of our times. In the midst of this turmoil, there has also been a resurgence of interest in classical theism and the historic reformed tradition among Baptists. 

Through conversation with other Baptist programs at various seminaries, it has become clear that seminaries are in need of some renovation. Theological education today often emphasizes application at the expense of doctrinal acumen and critical thinking. We have trained ministers what to say instead of how to think. Aspiring pastors are given fish instead of being trained how to fish. Without being trained in historical doctrines, pastors are left reinventing the wheel as they navigate cultural issues. Ministers are forced to guess and take their cues from culture or politics.

Theological education often talks about Augustine, Calvin, Edwards, Fuller, and other heroes. But who is training ministers to be like them? Are great theologians a thing of the past? For too long, many have taught theology without training theologians. Albert Mohler, the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has this to say:

[Our] identity has to be . . . historic[ally] Protestant. . . . But modern evangelicalism lacks the theological substance either of the Reformation or the Reformers because the Reformers themselves, Luther and Calvin amongst them, were not at all hesitant, even as they affirmed sola Scriptura and did so with full heart and soul, to go back and cite Augustine. They knew they were standing on the shoulders of those who had come before, and they sought to make that very clear. They stood on the creedal consensus of historic Christianity and thus confessional Protestantism, I would argue, is and must be—can be—sufficiently thick. But evangelicalism? Well, not so much.
“The Benedict Option: A Conversation with Rod Dreher,” Thinking in Public,

For all evangelical denominations, if we do not train our leaders to be theologians like those of the past, then we have a dim future. The question remains, is anyone actually doing anything about this lack of theological richness and historical rootedness? At Davenant Hall, we are. And we are doing it in communication with churches and in partnership with Baptist seminaries as we aim to serve our denominations.

This fall 2023, we are launching our Baptist Studies confessional sub-track in our Pastoral M.Litt. in Classical Protestantism. We have been developing relationships with multiple Southern Baptist seminaries to ensure transfer credit and develop joint degrees. Our first students are already visiting and transferring from various Baptist seminaries, and applicants to our Baptist Studies Pastoral M.Litt. are already lining up at the door.

Our Baptist Studies sub-track is designed to equip ministers to serve their congregations with a biblically rooted and historically informed theological education. Students may take Baptist Studies courses as visiting students or as part of one of our degree programs. Our Baptist Studies classes, as well as our Pastoral Practicum courses can serve as independent classes for visiting students, or as electives in our Certificate, Standard M.Litt., or Pastoral M.Litt. Our classes are not limited to our pastoral M.Litt. students.

Baptist Studies includes two denominational history courses, two Baptist theology courses, and two courses in polity and liturgy. For the 2023–24 academic year, we are offering Baptist History I: Europe, Baptist Confessions, and Baptist Polity. Prospective students can contact me at [email protected] for inquiries

We also have a stellar lineup of instructors. 

  • Tim Jacobs (Program Coordinator): Assistant Provost, Teaching Fellow, facilitator of Pastoral M.Litt. Practicum at Davenant Hall; MDiv & ThM from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, PhD candidate the University of St. Thomas.
  • Jordan Steffaniak (Instructor): President of London Lyceum. Editor at Theologia Viatorum. Research Fellow at The Center for Faith and Culture. MDiv & ThM at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, PhD candidate at the University of Birmingham, UK.
  • Garrett Walden (Instructor): Pastor at Grace Heritage Church. Senior Editor at London Lyceum. ThM & PhD candidate at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • Jake Stone (Instructor): Editor at London Lyceum. MDiv at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • Ian Clary (prospective instructor): Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Colorado Christian University; PhD University of the Free State; MDiv & MTS at Toronto Baptist Seminary.

If you are a Baptist wanting to recover your confessional heritage in order to better serve the church, I hope you will consider joining us as we launch this Baptist Studies track at Davenant Hall!