BACKGROUND

Since 2013, the Davenant Institute has established itself as an intellectual leader in confessional Protestant resourcement, demonstrating a dedication to retrieving the depth and breadth of the Reformational heritage and in order to nurture Christian wisdom in the contemporary church. Over that time, we have built a robust network of scholars, pastors, and teachers committed to “translating” the wisdom of the church’s past to speak to the needs of the present.

In 2015 we launched The Davenant Latin Institute, aimed at equipping new translators to retrieve great theological texts in their original language. This grew into the Davenant Language Institute, incorporating Greek and Hebrew.

In 2019, launched Davenant Hall, offering simple online courses low on frills but high on substance. We framed theological education framed not as mere instruction, but as master and apprentice searching for wisdom.

Davenant Hall seeks to meet the growing needs of the Christian educational landscape today. We offer robusts foundation for theological literacy and Christian wisdom, equipping seminarians or grad students, as well as offering additional theological formation to pastors and leaders seeking an affordable alternative education.

This is available through indvidual courses, either graded or audited, as well as in our Certificate and MLitt degree programs. In these programs, over one or two years of mostly online study, along with residential intensives and discipleship weeks, students receive foundations of historic Protestant wisdom and language skills, along with deep dives into biblical theology, systematic theology, church history, philosophy, and more.

VISION

In the wake of the great retrieval that was the Protestant Reformation, a rekindled light of learning was kept burning by the diligent use of both old media and new. Scholars, teachers, and statesmen around Europe used the old-fashioned epistle and the new powers of the printing press to forge a collaborative enterprise of mutual learning and teaching to build up both the church and the commonwealth: the “Republic of Letters,” as it came to be called. While often formalized in new institutions and journals, this brotherhood transcended any particular institutional walls and laid the foundations of our modern world. Unfortunately, in our own time, both church and world, both right and left have been abandoning this humane learning, either retreating into the cave of anti-intellectualism, or barricading themselves in increasingly irrelevant institutions guarded by shibboleths and obsessed with status, credentials, and compliance forms. In this barren educational landscape, it is rare to find the confident cultivation of space for men of good will to openly wonder and move one another toward the good.

Into this valley of dry bones, the internet has descended, at once destabilizing and invigorating. Like it or not, the new tools of communication are here to stay, like the printing press before them. But we can only use them well if we build, like the old Republic of Letters before us, on the foundations of friendship and discipleship. This is the challenge that Davenant Hall is taking up.

Davenant Hall combines the rich theological and moral vision of Reformed Catholic orthodoxy with a self-conscious desire to create unique modern expressions of the old Republic of Letters. To that end, we advance and renew Christian wisdom for the digital age, harnessing the new powers of the internet to offer effective and flexible online instruction, and the old practices of community and mentorship to seek wisdom together through discipleship retreats and residential intensives at our Davenant House property. Taking these together, Davenant Hall allows students to engage the great tradition in order to mature and grow into whatever vocation God has given them. This curriculum affords students the opportunity to work through texts with guides who can enable students to more deeply know God’s two books, and themselves, in a way that moves them toward the mastery of wisdom: the effective grasp of Word and world, and the ability to see all things in the radiance the eternal Logos whose light enlightens all men and who can be found by those who seek Him.

DISTINCTIVES

Form

While covering some of what an undergraduate Bible degree or M.Div covers, our program will be distinctive in both form and content. Our deep-dive, modular approach set us apart from intro courses typical in much Christian education today, which offer complete but cursory 30,000-ft. overviews Scripture, theology, and church history. These often leave students dazed and confused, with minimal retention. We believe the skills of close reading primary texts, and deeply wrestling with specific questions, equip students to appreciate larger issues and debates. This narrower focus also helps students to appreciate of the depths of particular theological questions, equipping them with the virtues of wisdom and humility. We want to cultivate intellectual virtues which enable lifelong learning and the ability to share wisdom with others. To this end, assessment will be focused primarily around class participation, comprehensive oral final exams, and term papers.

Although the bulk instruction is online, a centerpiece of of Davenant Hall is residential intensives. MLitt students are requried to attend two two-week Protestant Wisdom summer residential intensive courses Davenant House, our study and retreat center in upstate South Carolina. Residentials are not required for Certificate students, who instead undertake mentor-directed reading; however, Certificate attendees can take the Protestant Wisdom residentials (and other, shorter residentials) for credit it they are able to attend.

These residential courses follow a daily rhythm of worship, fellowship, labor, reading, discussion, and reflection, providing an opportunity to delve deep into key themes of Christian wisdom and discuss their application. All students will also be encouraged (and students in the M.Litt will be required) to spend at least one “Davenant Discipleship Week” at Davenant House as well. This will be a time of spiritual direction, Scripture reading, and reflection under the leadership of our Davenant House directors, Michael and Lynette Hughes. It will provide an opportunity to grow spiritually and meditate on how to integrate the learning of the past year.

Content

Davenant Hall maintains our focus on recovering the theological vision of the Protestant Reformation. This vision is committed to the primacy of Scripture and the freedom of the Christian conscience, whilst also cultivating disciplined use of reason, an appreciation for the role of order and authority in the Christian life, and an understanding of freedom that is oriented toward service and the common good. A magisterial Protestantism attentively reads both the book of nature and the book of Scripture, carefully studies both the historic creeds of the church and the insights of fresh biblical exegesis, and prudently applies Christian wisdom to the “three estates,” the domain of commonwealth, church, and family.

EXAMPLES OF PAST COURSES

Note: All of these courses were offered in the previous format (1 hr/wk., no graded coursework)

Academic Calendar

FAQs

Do I need to be a graduate student or seminarian to participate?

No, in fact, you do not need to currently belong to an academic institution at all. Undergraduate students, pastors, teachers, and independent scholars are welcome as well.

Do I need to apply?

If you want to participate as a degree-seeking student in either our Certificate or M.Litt program, then yes, you do, although the application process is very straightforward. Apply here for the Certificate, here for the M.Litt. If you are participating as an auditor or just want to take individual classes for credit now (which could later be applied to the Certificate or M.Litt), then no, you can just register for individual courses.

Are there any prerequisites?

Not generally, although certain individual classes may require certain other classes as prerequisites. All classes are open to students 18 years old and above who are capable of deep reading, charitable engagement, and coherent writing (though of course students will be expected to grow in these skills through participation).

What is the time commitment?

The standard format for all online courses will be 10 weeks, 2 hrs/wk. Credit-seeking students should plan on spending roughly 4 hrs./wk. on average outside of class for each online course. Full-time students should plan on enrolling on five classes each term (no less than four, no more than six).

How do the live classes work?

All of our live classes use industry-leading videoconferencing software, either Zoom or Google Meets. Recordings of each class session, including any “whiteboards” or screen-shares, will be made available for students who were unable to make a particular class meeting.

Does it matter what time zone I am in?

It is important that for-credit students be able to participate in most of the live classes, although auditors may participate via recordings only if desired. It is our goal to schedule live class times that will fit within normal waking hours for all enrolled students, wherever they live on the globe, though obviously the times will be more convenient for some than others. After the registration deadline, students will be polled to determine suitable class meeting times, and the time that works best for all participants will be selected. If the resulting time does not work for you, you will have the option of (a) switching to auditor and watching recordings, (b) switching to a different course, (c) receiving a full refund.

How do the residential courses work?

Residential intensive courses will run for two weeks in the summer and should be considered full-time commitments during. Davenant Discipleship Weeks will be scheduled with each student during either the Christmas break or the period between the end of Trinity Term and the Residential Intensives.

Is there a drop/add date?

We will not normally be allowing students to join one of the classes after the registration deadlines for each course. Students needing to drop a class within the first three weeks can have their tuition 100% credited toward a subsequent course.

Are scholarships available?

At present, no. We have made an effort to price these classes at rock-bottom levels, so that cost will not be an obstacle to most students. Moreover, students who complete the M.Litt will be eligible for generous scholarships from the Davenant Institute toward future graduate study.

Is your program currently accredited?

Davenant Hall is not currently accredited by any outside agency, although we believe our courses and our program as a whole conform to high standards of professional qualification, academic rigor, and student assessment. As the program grows and becomes more well-established, we plan to build relationships with other academic institutions to have our courses and degrees recognized for transfer credit or advanced standing.

Can I receive credit toward a degree at another institution?

Our program is brand-new, but the Davenant Institute has excellent relationships with numerous institutions of higher education, at the undergraduate, graduate, and seminary levels, and will be working over the coming year to establish transfer-credit arrangements with such institutions. If you would like to inquire about the possibility of such an arrangement with your current institution, please contact Colin Redemer, our Provost, at [email protected]