Liberal Education in a Libertine Age

Davenant Institute UK Convivium

January 25, 2020

The Kilns, Oxford, England

In his magnificent essay, The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis writes, “Until quite modern times all teachers and even all men believed the universe to be such that certain emotional reactions on our part could be either congruous or incongruous to it–believed, in fact, that objects did not merely receive, but could merit, our approval or disapproval, our reverence or our contempt” (14-15). The task of education, according to this older consensus, was to teach us to love what we ought to love, and feel what we ought to feel. Liberal education aimed to create free men and women, in the sense of men and women freed from passion or self-interest to pursue their true human vocation, the love of knowledge, and the service of others.

The past two centuries, however, have seen an assault on this vision from all sides, and its replacement by a vision of libertine education: education is now instrumentalized as a means to better achieve our desires, and to compel the world to conform to them. Students are encouraged to stand in judgment over the past and over the order of the universe, rather than let it judge and reshape them. To fight back, we need to draw on the wisdom of Scripture as well as the classical past, and to draw on the wisdom of Christian educators who fought on the front lines of battle, such as C.S. Lewis.

We are honored to have the opportunity to gather at the former home of C.S. Lewis, “The Kilns” in Oxford to reflect together on what the pursuit of wisdom–and true freedom–requires in this libertine age. Our plenary speaker will be Dr. Michael Ward, speaking on “C.S. Lewis and Liberal Education.” Other sessions will feature Dr. Alastair Roberts (speaking on “The Role of Wisdom in Education”) and a panel discussion with Dr. Ward and Davenant Teaching Fellow Colin Redemer on “C.S. Lewis: Protestant Prophet or Catholic Scholar?”

The event will run from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM.

We welcome paper submissions offering historical, philosophical, theological, and exegetical reflections on the task of Christian education, the challenges it faces today, and wise Christian educators on the past who wrestled with these questions and can still teach us today.

Email Colin Redemer ([email protected]) by December 15th to submit a paper.

Join us for a time of rich fellowship, conversation, and growth in wisdom!

Our Speaker


Rev. Dr. Michael Ward is a Senior Research Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford and an Associate Member, Faculty of Theology and Religion, Oxford, as well as Professor of Apologetics at Houston Baptist University. He is the author of the award-winning Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis (Oxford University Press) and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to C.S. Lewis (Cambridge University Press). He has presented a television documentary about C. S. Lewis for BBC1. For more information about Rev. Ward, we refer you to his CV [] and his website [].

Register Now

Davenant Institute UK Convivium Irenicum

Jan. 25th 8:30 am to 4pm

Registration rates (including lunch) are:

£30 (Regular)

£15 (Oxford Students)

For more details, contact: Colin Redemer [email protected]

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