Report on the Winter 2016 Northwest Regional Convivium

On the weekend of February 19-20 we were able to host our second Northwest regional convivium in Moscow, ID. The event was a great success as around 20 people gathered together to discuss a variety of important topics and enjoy each other’s company. In addition to a number of local attendees, the event was also attended by students and scholars from nearby Spokane, WA and Portland, OR.

The weekend kicked off on Friday night with a guided discussion on Christian higher education led by Davenant Trust Vice President Peter Escalante. During the discussion we began by reflecting on what exactly is meant by the phrase “Christian education” and how post-secondary institutions in particular ought to think about their mission in light of the many unhelpful trends in contemporary higher education.

After our discussion a number of attendees continued the discussion at Tapped, a brew-pub in downtown Moscow. There we enjoyed continued discussion about higher ed as well as a host of other topics covering everything from theology to politics to the evening’s NBA games. I was one of the last people to leave and I left the pub around 11:45pm.

Saturday morning we reconvened for a day that would include four fascinating papers. Our morning began with a paper on Thomas Aquinas and the Trinity presented by Dr. Josh Malone of Moody Bible Institute Spokane. Dr. Malone’s paper explored the various concepts and ideas Thomas used to help explain the Trinity as well as why Thomas believed that such reflection on the Trinity is useful and even necessary.

Following Dr. Malone’s talk, Dr. Forrest Buckner of Whitworth University presented a paper on John Calvin and the Trinity. This made for a fascinating follow-up to Dr. Malone’s paper as Calvin proved to be far more negative about the sort of approach favored by Thomas, dismissing it as speculation that is not useful for the Christian life.

The discussion following Dr. Buckner’s paper was particularly satisfying not only because Drs. Malone and Buckner were able to ask each other questions about their respective papers but because one of our Wenden House scholars who is currently working on Zanchi’s “De Tribus Elohom” was in attendance and was able to comment on how Zanchi’s approach differed from both that of Thomas and of Calvin.

After a break for lunch we enjoyed a third paper, this one presented by Dr. Jonathan McIntosh of New Saint Andrew’s College. Dr. McIntosh looked at Calvin’s theology of civil government and judged it wanting, arguing that Calvin’s approach to the magistrate essentially amounted to a sort of fatalism that excludes from the start the possibility of just resistance to tyrannical rule. As with the previous papers, we enjoyed a spirited discussion following Dr. McIntosh’s paper as various attendees discussed various aspects of Calvin’s own thought as well as the broader history of reformed reflection on resistance theory.

Our final paper of the day came from Brad Belschner, a Moscow resident and NSA alumnus, who presented on the topic of animal death before the Fall. Mr. Belschner’s paper covered the history of Christian reflection on the topic and raised several exegetical questions about the issue as well. Once again, we enjoyed a lively discussion after the presentation.

We also announced plans to tentatively plan another regional convivium for Moscow and the Pacific Northwest this fall, most likely some time in September once students have returned to school. We will post any updates here on the site as we are able.