Reforming Classical Education

Toward A New Paradigm

convivium irenicum
Edited By Rhys Laverty & mark hamilton
About this book

We are now in the third generation of the great educational awakening often called the “classical Christian education movement.” As with all successful movements, rival visions for its future direction have emerged, and fundamental questions beg for answers. Many hail classical education as a panacea for the intellectual and moral degradation of modernity. Others champion it above contemporary education by arguing that it ultimately produces greater career success. Others promise it will create profound thinkers by exposing children to great literature. But will reading Plato really train a Christian child in virtue? Will learning Latin ready them for success in any field–and is that even something for which we should ready them? And literature is well and good, but why doesn’t classical education seem to say much about the sciences?

The essays in this volume address these questions and more, exploring the issue of what a distinctly Protestant form of classical education may look like today. Christian educational renewal undoubtedly involves bringing out treasures old–and there remain some which are still neglected. Yet renewal must also be open to treasures new, as we creatively respond to the challenges and circumstances of our time.

Paperback | xvii + 176 pages | 6×9 | PubliSHED august 2 2022 | ISBN 978-1-949716-12-2

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“Let classical Christian educators read Plato themselves to contend with what he is saying in all his caustic brilliance, but let them turn to other texts to accomplish their educational goals with the young. Assuming such educators share our desire to keep those spirited young ones living in the path of righteousness, hidden in the heart of God. At best, reading Plato with children will be a needless diversion you make use of as you teach the truly essential elements of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric. Plato is a mere, useless adjunct. At worst, compulsory reading of Plato may cause young persons to lose their faith and bring the end of the Church in our land closer.”

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On Naming the World: A Protestant Vision for Training in Wisdom.
Bradford Littlejohn, The Davenant Institute


The Liberal Arts and the Art of Service: Protestantism’s Challenge to Classical Education

Gene Edward Veith, Patrick Henry College


On Corrupting the Youth: A Platonic Education

Colin Chan Redemer, St. Mary’s College of California


Teaching Books, Teaching Arts: A View of Classical Christian Literary Training. Joshua Patch, PhD. candidate at University of Dallas


In Search of Virtue: Why the Quadrivium Matters

Gregory Wilbur, New College Franklin


Cosmic Wisdom: How the Quadrivium Serves Theology and Ethics

Nathan Johnson, New College Franklin


Form, Content, and Purpose: Reflections on Early Modern Education for Today. Michael Lynch, Delaware Valley Classical School


A Confessional Education: Abraham Kuyper, J. Gresham Machen, and the Christian Academy.
Eli West, Covenant High School


Subalternation and the Liberal Arts: Vocation and Friendship with God. Brandon Spun, New College Franklin

Convivium Proceedings gather together the best of the papers and addresses delivered by expert scholars at our annual National
Convivium Irenicum at Davenant House in South Carolina.

Praise for this work

“When one gets serious about the need for Classical Education, it is easy to feel like King Josiah, who, when doing renovations on the Temple finds the forgotten Book of the Law. The realization of how much had been lost must have been overwhelming. But when the sadness and shame passed the work of reinstating God’s law began. So too for us. We live in the aftermath of having outsourced the formation of souls to a modern materialistic pedagogy that regards Man as little more than meat with hormones. When that initial sadness and shame of what we’ve lost passes, we get down to work rebuilding real education.  Reforming Classical Education is true to that calling.”

– Graeme Donaldson

Veritas Academy, Austin TX; co-host of the Classical Stuff You Should Know podcast

“Reforming Classical Education is the first of its kind, as trite as that may sound. The authors take the reader on a journey by sampling a variety of issues that concern the Christian framework (both as a worldview and a practice), generally, with a Reformed slant for a well-rounded classical education. The essays are worthy of serious reflection as we continue to mold the hearts and minds of young men and women to enter a world equipped with the tools of Christian knowledge and classical antiquity. While the classical education movement is still young, the present collection will aid in further retrieval of wisdom from the Protestant sages of the past toward a renewed and faithful classical environment in the classroom.”

– Joshua R. Farris

Humboldt Experienced Research Fellow, University of Bochum

“Reforming Classical Education is a thoughtful contribution to the classical education movement that deftly makes history, as Frederick Douglass said, “useful to the present and to the future.” Through wise application of Scripture, philosophy, and historical exemplars, these nine writers chart a path forward for classical education that is oriented toward honoring God by raising up boys and girls into virtuous men and women. I particularly appreciated the focus on mathematics and the quadrivium, including its restoration to equal importance with the trivium in the education of students.”

– Thomas Magbee

Co-host of the Classical Stuff You Should Know podcast

The classical education movement stands under authority. Although Protestants certainly maintain their final
allegiance to Scripture, to be classical also presupposes submission to a tradition. [Reforming Classical Education]
offers insight into the Protestant tradition of education in hopes of offering several correctives to the movement.
They approach each subject with their usual emphasis on historical resourcement while remaining thoroughly Protestant.”



Bradford Littlejohn is President of the Davenant Institute and Fellow in Evangelicals in Civic Life at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His research interests include Christian ethics, church history, and political theology. He is the author of The Two Kingdoms: A Guide for the Perplexed (Davenant Press, 2017), The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology (Eerdmans, 2017), and Richard Hooker: A Companion to His Life and Work (Cascade Books, 2015).

Gene Edward Veith is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Patrick Henry College (Purcellville, VA). He is well-known in Christian, conservative, and homeschooling circles through his writing and speaking on various aspects of Christianity and culture. Dr. Veith is the author of twenty books on topics involving Christianity and culture, classical education, literature, and the arts.

Colin Chan Redemer is Vice-President of the Davenant Institute, Poetry Editor of Ad Fontes, and Adjunct Associate Professor at St. Mary’s College of California. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Aberdeen, exploring the philosophy of friendship.

Joshua Patch is a Ph.D. candidate in Literature at the University of Dallas. He teaches English in the Rhetoric School at The Covenant School in Dallas, Texas.

Gregory Wilbur is President and Dean of New College Franklin. He has lectured on a wide range of topics including music, geometry, cosmology, moral philosophy, and poetics. He is the author of and contributor to several books as well as numerous articles, and he speaks regularly on the arts, worship, and education. He contributes to The Christward Collective and the CiRCE Institute Blog. He has composed award-winning works for choir, orchestra, film, and corporate worship.

Nathan Johnson is a Professor of Moral Philosophy and the Trivium at New College Franklin. He previously taught humanities and composition at Greyfriars Classical Academy in Matthews, North Carolina. He is currently working on a Ph.D. in Humanities (with an emphasis in literature) at Faulkner University.

Michael J. Lynch teaches Classical Languages, Theology, and Humanities at Delaware Valley Classical School. He holds a Ph.D. from Calvin Seminary. His dissertation was published as John Davenant’s Hypothetical Universalism: A Defense of Catholic and Reformed Orthodoxy (Oxford University Press, 2021).

Eli West teaches Humanities at Covenant High School in Tacoma, Washington. He studied History at Hillsdale College and holds a Master’s of Arts in Teaching (MAT) from Templeton Honors College.

Brandon Spun is Dean of Academics and a Senior Fellow at New College Franklin, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Humanities at Faulkner University. His research interests include literature, literary theory, ancient philosophy, ethics, personalism, metaphysics, natural philosophy, and the liberal arts.

About the editors

Rhys Laverty

Rhys Laverty (GDip Union School of Theology) is Managing Editor of The Davenant Press and Senior Editor of Ad Fontes, as well as Marketing Director for The Davenant Institute, and is currently studying on The Davenant Institute’s M.Litt program. He has written for Ad Fontes, Mere Orthodoxy, and the Theopolis Institute, and podcasts about film and TV on For Now We See. He lives in Chessington, UK with his wife Libby, daughter Noah, and son Seamus.

Mark Hamilton

Dr. S Mark Hamilton (Ph.D, Free University of Amsterdam) is Associate Editor at The Davenant Press, alongside working as NPI Project Manager for SPM Oil and Gas, a Caterpillar Company and  research associate at the Jonathan Edwards Society. He is a contributor to and co-editor of a number of symposia and has published in variety of academic journals.  At present, he is completing two monographs: Re-envisioning Substitutionary Atonement (Cascade) and Jonathan Edwards on Spirit Christology (Routledge). He lives in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and four sons.


The Davenant Institute endeavors to restore wisdom for the contemporary church. We seek to sponsor historical scholarship at the intersection of the church and academy, build friendships and facilitate collaboration within the Reformed and evangelical world, and equip the saints with time-tested resources for faithful public witness. Below are some of the works we’ve published towards that end.

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