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.

Faithful readers may recall that I have posted brief reports on the papers presented at the annual summer convivia sponsored by the Davenant Institute. (Go hereherehere, and here for the concluding posts for the past four years.) With the surfeit of great papers, Davenant decided to add several regional off-season convivia to the roster. The most recent one took place at Davenant House in Landrum, South Carolina January 5-6.

Morning View from the Deck

In addition to great food, worship (including singling psalms a cappella), fellowship, and libations, we enjoyed plenary speaker D. Blair Smith of Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte) on “The Fatherhood of God in Fourth-Century Pro-Nicene Trinitarian Theology.” Quite a mouthful but Christians today need to recall that it took the church centuries to develop concepts and their ramifications and interrelations we now take for granted. Except when we forget what certain expression meant and re-fill them with our own, contemporary meanings (more on this phenomenon below).

Other papers included “John Owen: Proto-Barthian?” by Thomas Haviland-Pabst, in which Thomas showed that Barth could have avoided the excesses of his “Christo-monism” had he read the Christo-centric Trinitarian theology of seventeenth-century Puritan theologian, John Owen. Both Barth and Owen serve as good reminders, however, that the Christian God is Trinity and that failing to begin theology proper with Trinity can lead to either a functional modalism or tri-theism.

Nathan Johnson presented “The Polyphonic Melody of Grace: Identity, Consecration, and Deliverance in the Passover and Eucharist” in which he developed a rich, biblical-theological understanding of the Lord’s Supper that, if taken seriously, would help restore the sacrament to a meaningful place in the liturgy. Next, Zachary Groff, talked about his paper, “The Ancient Branch: 17th C. Scottish Presbyterian Commentaries on Romans 11:26.” How to understand Paul’s prophecy of the salvation of “all Israel” has perplexed commentators for over a thousand years but the seventeenth-century Scots had a take on it that was new to me.

Mark Olivero gave his paper on “The Eternal Sovereignty of the Son: The Co-regency of Christ Reveals the One Absolute and Indivisible Authority of the Triune God” in which he revisited last year’s dust-up over the alleged eternal subordination of the Son to the Father (see above) with a careful review of 1 Corinthians 15, the putative proof-text for subordinationists like Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem.

Finally, I read my paper, “Unconscionability: Reciprocity and Justice” and received valuable comments on my theological arguments.

All in all, great edification and a great time.

Lengthening Shadows at Davenant House


C. Scott Pryor (J.D., University of Wisconsin; M.A., Reformed Theological Seminary) serves as Chairman of the Board for The Davenant Institute and is currently a member of the faculty of Campbell University School of Law. He previously served on the faculty at Regent University School of Law from 1998-2015. He has also been a visiting professor at Handong International School of Law in Pohang, South Korea and has taught as a Fulbright Scholar at the National Law University in Jodhpur, India. See his writings on the relationship of the Christian faith to the law of contracts, the influence of Puritanism on contract law, Indian contract law, natural law, human rights, and other matters at his SSRN Author page. You can follow Scott’s occasional thoughts on his blog, PryorThoughts.