Enchanted by Story: Literature in Service of Christian Wisdom

The year of our Lord 2020 is underway, and it has already yielded fruit disproportionate to the days gone by at the Davenant House. On Friday, January 3rd and Saturday, January 4th, we hosted the annual Carolinas Regional Convivium. The topic was Literature in the Service of Christian Wisdom.

A Summary of the Church Authority Convivium in Washington DC

Western Christians find themselves forced to navigate many different quandaries in the modern world. This assertion is not generally considered to be controversial. Controversy quickly ensues, however, when Christians attempt to more finely identify and address these challenges. In recent times, one frequently discussed item has related to a presumed “crisis of authority” afflicting (especially) the American church. What is this crisis? And does a renewed emphasis on the authority of the institutional church help us navigate through it?

Report on a Regional Convivium — South Carolina, January 5-6, 2018

On January 5-6, 2018, The Davenant Institute held a small Regional Convivium at the Davenant House in South Carolina. Below is Scott Pryor’s summary of the event. If you are interested in attending a future Convivium or other Davenant events, sign up for updates of our projects and events here. The post below was originally posted in Pryor’s blog and is posted here with consent of the author.

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Convivium West: Theology Among Friends

By Gayle Doornbos


From August 17-19, the Davenant Institute hosted its first National Convivium Irenicum West in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The theme of the gathering was the same as the National Convivium East held earlier this summer: “To All Generations: Teaching the Doctrine of God in the Life of the Church.” As with all Convivia hosted by the Davenant Institute, the Western national Convivium situated academic discussion and dialogue within a weekend of fellowship and community building punctuated by morning and evening worship, preparing and eating meals together, and having fun on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Read more…

A Report on the Davenant Trust DC Convivium

This past Friday and Saturday, the Davenant Trust made its Washington, DC debut. The third Mid-Atlantic Regional Convivium Irenicum took place at Redeeming Grace Church of Fairfax, Virginia, in an event ably organized by Dr. Brian Auten of Patrick Henry College, and co-sponsored by Patrick Henry College and Providence Magazine.

The theme of the conference– “Christian Love and National Interest: A Protestant Ethic of National Security” –was broad, and the questions examined were varied. On Friday night, Walter Russell Mead of Bard College and the Hudson Institute opened the conference with a discussion of America’s quasi-religious self-understanding and the impact that this has had on US foreign policy. He focused particularly on eschatology: whether in a Christian form or in a secular form, something like premillennial eschatology has pointed towards a sense of impending doom (or radical transformation) while postmillenial eschatology has driven an expansive sense of American destiny and mission.

Dr. Mark Thiessen Nation of Eastern Mennonite University followed with a paper titled “Eberhard Bethge and the Myth of Bonhoeffer the Assassin: Recovering a Persistently Christ-Centered Ethic in a World Full of Nazis,” which challenged the received notion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Bonhoeffer, argued Nation, never renounced (whether in principle or in attempted practice) his pacifist convictions.

On Saturday morning, a smaller group of graduate students and early-career academics gathered to present and discuss papers on various topics, and on Saturday afternoon, the event opened back up to the public with a paper by Davenant’s president, Dr. W. Bradford Littlejohn. “Caring for Religion and Protecting the Commonwealth in the Protestant Reformation” addressed a variety of approaches to the implied national security (or national self-definition) issues raised by the Reformation, and provided a window into some solutions offered into early Protestant political theology.

Andrew Fulford of McGill University followed Brad with a paper drawing on his recent Davenant Trust book, Jesus and Pacifism.  “Was Jesus a Pacifist? Yoder, Hauerwas and the Meaning of Jesus for Christian Ethics” served as something of a response to Nation’s talk of the previous night, and in the panel discussion that followed, Fulford and Nation, along with others, tackled the questions of pacifism and the just war tradition directly.  

And a lively panel it was. “The World of Surveillance, Spies, and Special Operations Forces: Is the Just War Tradition Enough for Christian Citizenship?” brought together Fulford and Nation, along with Drs. Marc Livecche and Keith Pavlischek of Providence.  Moderated by Dr. Auten, the conversation ranged widely, covering the question of whether the just war tradition was a legitimate approach at all, to more specific issues regarding its application. Brad Gregory was ritually invoked and denounced, and the conversation continued in an excellent question and answer session.

As is always the case at Davenant convivia, the conversations around the edges of the presentations– at meals, over coffee, over drinks– were as engaging and fruitful as the presentations themselves. The gathering was attended by a mix of academics, students, and pastors, along with men and women from the worlds of politics, media, and intelligence, and several who serve (or have served) in the military: the topics discussed were not abstract, not distant from the concerns of those who attended.  It became clear that there is a need- and a hunger- in the DC area for Davenant’s approach to Protestant resourcement: to considering how historical theology and ethics speak to questions of statecraft and security, to the nature and legitimate means of government, and to the challenging loyalties of Christian citizenship.  We look forward to an ongoing presence in the Capital, to continuing the conversations begun over the weekend, and to moving forward with this work of bringing scholarship and theological reflection to bear on crucial issues of the day.  

If you were unable to attend but are in the area and would like to be kept informed about future meet-ups, please sign up here.

Susannah Black received her BA from Amherst College and her MA from Boston University. She is an editor at Plough, associate editor of Providence Magazine, and an editor of The Davenant Trust’s journal Ad Fontes. She’s a founding editor of Solidarity Hall and is on the Board of the Distributist Review. Her writing has appeared in First Things, The Distributist Review, Solidarity Hall, Providence, Amherst Magazine, Front Porch Republic, Ethika Politika, The Human Life Review, The American Conservative, Mere Orthodoxy, and elsewhere. She blogs at Radio Free Thulcandra and tweets at @suzania. A native Manhattanite, she is now living in Queens.

A Report on the Davenant Trust Colorado Convivium

We were very blessed to have Colorado Christian University, and our esteemed friend Michael Plato in particular, host our first Convivium in the Mountain West earlier this month. Mr. Plato kindly wrote up this thorough summary of the event to give you a taste of the rich conversations we enjoyed. If you are interested in listening to the recorded lectures and panel discussion, you can join Davenant Trustees and download or stream them through the private Trustees portal.


Recently the Davenant Trust hosted its first convivium in Colorado. The convivium was titled “Faith Alone: Recovering the Heart of the Reformation,” in recognition of the 500th anniversary of the recognized beginning of the Reformation. The event was held just west of Denver, at the campus of the event’s co-host, Colorado Christian University, on March 10th and 11th. Colorado Christian University’s new academic facilities and campus, located within view of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, provided a scenic and comfortable location for the gathering.

The event attracted a number of attendees from the local Denver area, as well as from further afield, including Colorado Springs; the majority of those in attendance, however, were students from the university. Though CCU is a confessionally Evangelical institution it is not specifically Reformed, and it was a good opportunity for many of the students to engage with Reformation history and theology at a deep level, that was also convivial.

The convivium began Friday evening with presentations made by David Buschart of Denver Seminary, and Aaron Denlinger of Westminster Theological Seminary.

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The Davenant Trust Comes to DC: Announcing a Regional Convivium on National Security

We are very pleased to announce that we will be holding our Third Mid-Atlantic Regional Convivium Irenicum, and our first ever in Washington, DC, examining the theme, “Christian Love and National Interest: A Protestant Ethic of National Security.” The event will be held on April 21-22 at Redeeming Grace Church of Fairfax, VA, and will be co-sponsored by Patrick Henry College and Providence Magazine.

How do we exercise our Christian duty to show love to enemies while also exercising our Christian duty to protect our neighbors and countrymen from them? Can we have open arms and strong borders? To what extent should we be see ourselves as patriotic citizens of a nation-state vs. members of the worldwide family of Christ, with obligations that might run counter to national interest? This event seeks to connect the idea of national security to Christian ethics, bringing together local scholars and theologians, pastors and interested laypeople, and those who serve (or are considering service) in the military, intelligence and law enforcement professions. Our hope is that attendees and participants walk away with a new—or a renewed—vision for how the historical Protestant ethical tradition speaks to the often-conflicting loyalties of Christian citizenship.

To address these important questions, we will be bringing in speakers including Dr. Mark Thiessen Nation of Eastern Mennonite University, Dr. David Shedd of Patrick Henry College, Drs. Marc LiVecche and Keith Pavlischek of Providence magazine, Dr. Bradford Littlejohn of the Davenant Trust, and Mr. Andrew Fulford of McGill University, and author of our recent Davenant publication, Jesus and Pacifism.

For full details, and to register, click here.

Report on the Winter 2016 Northwest Regional Convivium

On the weekend of February 19-20 we were able to host our second Northwest regional convivium in Moscow, ID. The event was a great success as around 20 people gathered together to discuss a variety of important topics and enjoy each other’s company. In addition to a number of local attendees, the event was also attended by students and scholars from nearby Spokane, WA and Portland, OR. Read more…