The Future of Protestantism

On April 29th, 2014, The Davenant Trust sponsored a forum on “The Future of Protestantism,” held at Biola University in California.  Hosted by the Torrey Honors Institute there, and co-sponsored by the magazine First Things, the forum brought together Dr. Peter J. Leithart (Trinity House Institute, Birmingham, AL; New Saint Andrews College, Moscow, ID), Dr. Carl Trueman (Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA), and Dr. Fred Sanders (Biola University, La Mirada, CA), to explore the following questions:

  • What are the flaws of modern evangelical American Protestantism?
  • Why are these shortcomings not reason, as many have argued, to convert to Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy?
  • How might Protestantism—particularly in America—need to change if it is to survive and thrive in the 21st century?

Moderated by The Davenant Trust’s board member, J. Peter Escalante, the event proved an immense success, with a full house of nearly 500 students, faculty, and Christians from around the Los Angeles area in attendance, and several thousand more who “attended” remotely via livestream.  The event has provoked avid discussion on Twitter and leading theological blogs, and the archived video has received thousands of videos on YouTube.  The audio recording of the event will soon be available for download on WordMP3.  You can read a synopsis of the discussion at the Torrey Honors Institute’s blog, Scriptorium Daily.

We hope that this conversation will be but the beginning of a larger conversation around these important issues.  Peter Leithart’s vision of a “Reformational catholicism” that will prove the basis of future ecumenism is attractive and influential, but leaves many questions about the enduring authority of the Reformation legacy for today’s Protestants.  Critics like Carl Trueman and Fred Sanders compel us to ask those questions with historical fidelity and pastoral sensitivity.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of Matthew Lee Anderson, editor of Mere Orthodoxy, and that of the Torrey Honors Institute, in helping to organize this event.