Davenant President Brad Littlejohn reviews the organization’s central mission and the opportunities before us.
Some of us may have been disappointed to see only Lutherans among the hymn-writers which we recently sampled. But fear not, Reformed readers, because Latin culture flourished in early Reformed circles as well.
When Thomas Paine published Common Sense in 1776, his was not the only commonly held sense of the term “common sense.” Ironically, the term was already complicated at the American founding.
Everyone knows that the Reformation opened the floodgates of German songwriting, transforming the hymn into communal song. No less astonishing, but much less remembered, is the early Lutherans’ tireless work at writing an entirely new corpus of Latin hymns.
First and foremost, I love the Canons of Dort because they express God’s grace to sinners. When you read them for yourself you’ll see that they do not merely describe from afar static doctrines; they profess God’s personal grace to personal sinners.
Humanist drama as a medium for retelling Bible stories is one of the most fascinating genres of Latin literature of the Reformation. All over Europe Protestants and Catholics alike wrote biblical comedies and tragedies for their schools, each camp often using the other’s plays since in the first decades they rarely strayed from narrative into confessional statements. These plays aimed instead to teach good Latin style and to teach piety and virtue by example. If this sounds like a recipe for bland moralizing devoid of theology, we need only turn to the granddaddy of all humanist biblical plays to see that they can indeed explore the depths of God’s mysteries delightfully through story.
What can we still learn from a long-dead Elizabethan divine? That’s easy: the art of discrimination in an age of fuzziness and division.
Thanks to the work of E. J. Hutchinson, many of us are aware of Theodore Beza’s emblems. The enigmatic woodcuts and poetry of emblem books were also employed by less well-known Protestant writers, but no less vividly and even hauntingly, to picture life in light of God. Among these was Georgette de Montenay, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Navarre.
The term ‘biblical’ has come to function as a sort of trademark, performing many of a trademark’s purposes. Biblical™ offers people the quality assurance of the trusted Christian brand, relieving people of the uncertainty and anxiety of having to determine the quality of things for themselves.
Three years ago, we at Davenant were blessed by the Lord with the opportunity to purchase a beautiful small retreat center property in the Blue Ridge Mountains of upstate SC, which we dubbed Davenant House. We enthusiastically sketched out a vision for a study center dedicated to the renewal of Protestant wisdom, offering residential courses, study retreats, and serving as a hub for building networks and ministry in the region. Unfortunately, the path forward for this work proved far rockier and more winding than we had anticipated, and we had all but abandoned this vision when the Lord brought Michael Hughes and his family across our path last summer. Over this winter, He opened many doors for bringing the Hugheses on, beginning in Summer 2019, as full-time directors of Davenant House, ready to realize the initial ambitious vision for the property, engage in active student ministry throughout the Western Carolinas, and raise funds for the further development of the property. It is with greatest excitement and joy that we introduce them to you today.