Showing Students the Vibrancy of the Protestant Tradition

The past decade has witnessed a steady exodus of many of the best and brightest young evangelicals to the Roman Catholic Church or Eastern Orthodoxy.

This exodus has been particularly pronounced among Christians engaged in classical education or in public policy—both fields of outsized influence and importance to future generations. We are at risk of losing an entire generation of leaders. The reasons for this exodus are numerous, but at root, for many, is the conviction that Protestantism is an intellectual lightweight, without a robust aesthetic, ethical, or philosophical tradition, and without the resources to confront modern challenges. They are likely to form this conclusion in anti-intellectual low-church upbringings, and to confirm it at evangelical colleges and universities that fail to root them in the rich soil of historic Protestant theology and ethics. By the time they move to graduate school or culture-shaping institutions, they are likely to look to Rome, Orthodoxy, or progressivism for their intellectual compass—anywhere, that is, but magisterial Protestantism. But in fact, it has precisely the best tools that we need to confront our modern challenges without retreating from them.

What can we do about it?

The battleground at present is at our colleges and universities, and increasingly the front line of conflict has retreated from mainline or secular institutions to evangelical Christian or conservative institutions, where young Christians who care about their faith and making a difference in the world for Christ can be expected to congregate. Our strategy for making a difference on this battleground is twofold. First, we are energetically building and equipping a network of evangelical scholars rooted in the soil of magisterial Protestantism, scholars who in coming years will be filling the influential teaching positions at these institutions—indeed we are leveraging our network to help with job placement in these strategic positions. These scholars will be able to serve as mentors for confused and rootless but intellectually gifted students who come across their paths. Second, we aim to employ regional Teaching Fellows who can speak on college campuses, lead reading groups, and facilitate intensive Protestant Wisdom Summer Programs for students hungry for the untapped wisdom of the magisterial Protestant tradition.

Already, our network includes professors at around twenty key evangelical and Reformed colleges and universities, with many more star graduate students preparing for teaching positions. These professors have had the opportunity to shape many of their best and brightest students and fire them with a love for the Reformational heritage; several of these students have already gone on to become key contributors to Davenant’s work. Our teaching fellows Colin Redemer and Alastair Roberts have done numerous lectures on college campuses on themes ranging from sexual ethics to the Protestant reception of Aristotle, and we have held four Protestant Wisdom summer programs to date, introducing young adults to a comprehensive framework for thinking about theology, philosophy, science, ethics, and politics.

We need to continue and expand this work.

What can you do about it?

Over the coming years, we’d like to be able to hold regional events or lectures on at least six evangelical college or seminary campuses per year. We’d also like to steadily expand our team of regional Teaching Fellows over the next five years, employing gifted teachers to mentor intellectually and spiritually hungry young adults at universities and seminaries. Your gifts are critical to these endeavors.

  • Your gift of $250 can sponsor a lecture on a college or seminary campus.
  • Your gift of $600 can cover a full scholarship for a seminarian participating in one of our Davenant Latin Institute courses.
  • Your gift of $1,000 can cover a full scholarship for a young adult to attend our two-week Intensive Protestant Wisdom Summer Program.
  • Your gift of $1,200 can enable us to hold a regional Convivium Irenicum at a strategic evangelical institution.

Please consider giving to this important initiative, and help us to show the next generation of evangelical students that the Protestant tradition is vibrant, intellectually compelling, and comprehensively catholic.