A Report on the 2016 Convivium Irenicum

Earlier this month the Davenant Trust held its fourth annual Convivium Irenicum at Davenant House in upstate South Carolina near Greenville. The theme of this year’s event was “Confessionalism and Diversity in the Reformed Tradition” and we were delighted to have Dr. Carl Trueman, who holds the Paul Woolley Chair of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, as our keynote speaker.


Along with Dr. Trueman’s fine paper, “Reading the Reformers After Cardinal Newman,” we also were able to hear the following papers:

  • “Written Monuments: Beza’s Icones as Testament to and Program for Reformist Humanism” (Dr. Eric Hutchinson, Hillsdale College)
  • “‘That No One Should Live For Himself, but for Others’: Love and the Third Mark of the Church in the Theology of Martin Bucer” (Jake Meador, Mere Orthodoxy)
  • “Pagan Theology and the Reformed Scholastics” (Joel Carini, Westminster Theological Seminary)
  • “George Carleton’s Reformed Doctrine of Apostolic Succession at the Synod of Dort” (Dr. Andre Gazal, University of Northwestern Ohio)
  • Roundtable Discussion: “The Role of Confessions Today” (Carl Trueman, Peter Escalante, Steven Wedgeworth)
  • “Confessional Orthodoxy and Hypothetical Universalism: Another Look at the Westminster Confession of Faith” (Michael J. Lynch, Calvin Theological Seminary)
  • “Libertarian Calvinism Need Not Be Deviant” (Paul Nedelisky, IASC, University of Virginia)
  • “A Reformed Irenic Christology: Richard Hooker’s Account of the Person of Christ in Sixteenth-Century Context” (Brad Littlejohn, The Davenant Trust)
  • “‘Reformed Baptist’: Anachronistic Oxymoron or Useful Signpost?” (Matthew Bingham, Queens University Belfast)
  • “Francis Turretin on the Possibility of Pagan Virtue” (Stephen Wolfe, LSU)

Since several of the papers were presented in parallel sessions, we also had a very helpful afternoon session on Friday where the moderators from the six parallel sessions offered summaries of the papers they heard and related each paper to the broader theme of the conference. That session was particularly helpful as it drew together a variety of different issues and showed how all of them related to the issue of diversity in the reformed tradition.

Changes in Event Format

One of the big changes in this year’s format was not only the aforementioned parallel sessions, but that we held the event in two separate houses. The main lectures as well as three of the parallel sessions, were held at Laureldale Cottage, owned by the Davenant Trust, which also accommodated around half of the attendees. The other parallel sessions were held at a second property, Ridgeview House which the Davenant Trust is currently leasing about a quarter mile from Laureldale. Many of the attendees also stayed there, with a few other attendees staying in nearby Tryon, NC as in previous years.

The reason for these changes is simple: We had over 40 people in attendance, which far exceeds the number of attendees from previous years. Thankfully, the addition of Ridgeview House to the Davenant House property as well as the addition of a few parallel sessions was a great success. It allowed us to accommodate more guests and hear a few more papers.

First-time attendee (and presenter) Matthew Bingham was particularly pleased with this year’s event, saying, “Part-academic conference, part-pastors’ conference, and part-mountain-retreat-weekend-with-your-buddies, the 2016 Convivium Irenicum was truly a special event and unlike anything I had previously experienced. I was a first-time attendee and I hope to be back!”

Publication of the Proceedings

We will be publishing this year’s papers, as we have in previous years, in a volume with a yet-to-be-determined title. We’ll post an update on this project on the website as soon as we have news to share.