12-Day Summer Program
Protestant Wisdom Foundations I:
Reading the Bible and the World
This program offers something of an intellectual crash course in how to be an intelligent, faithful and historically-grounded Protestant in the twenty-first century.
Davenant Hall Students: If you are pursuing the Certificate or M.Litt degree, participation in this residential program is required. It is worth 6 credits, as is PWF II (Only Protestant Wisdom Foundations I is required for Certificate students, Both I and II for M.Litt students).
August 2-13, 2021
Please plan your flight to arrive on the afternoon or evening of August 1
Are you tired of talking to people through a screen? Hungry for rich conversation? Looking for space to reflect critically on what it means to be a Christian disciple during these confusing times?
Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
Protestant Wisdom Foundations I: Reading the Bible and the World
The Lord reveals his glory to us through what many of our fathers in the faith called his “two books”: Scripture and nature. Both lie open to us: the latter sufficient to render us without excuse, the former sufficient to make us wise unto salvation, and both together sufficient to guide our footsteps faithfully on the tortuous paths of discipleship that lie before us. However, we are fools if we imagine that the clarity of God’s communication to us excuses us from the duty of being good readers. The great calling of every Christian is to grow in our skills of learning to attentively, discerningly, humbly read and interpret God’s revelation in both Scripture and nature, standing on the shoulders and sitting at the feet of the church’s wisdom through the centuries.
This two-week residential course will introduce you to the patterns of God’s self-revelation in his world and his Word, to tools and strategies employed by the church historically and today for reading this revelation well, and to wisdom in applying this discernment of God’s will to your own life and calling.
This course focuses on five key pillars of intellectual formation: 1) Protestant Doctrine, 2) Philosophy, 3) Natural Philosophy, 4) Ethics, and 5) Politics. In addition to accessible contemporary introductions, students will grapple with key texts in the Christian tradition in preparation for Socratic discussion seminars each day. Readings will include selections from:
- Roberts, Echoes of Exodus
- Wolters, Creation Regained
- Hilber, Old Testament Cosmology and Divine Accommodation
- Hooker, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity in Modern English
- Emonet, God Seen in the Mirror of the World, The Dearest Freshness Deep Down Things
- C.S Lewis, Discarded Image
- and more…
Featuring readings, lectures, and discussion seminars each day, it will provide an intense but rewarding time of intellectual stimulation, laying a foundation for faithful Christian discipleship in the modern world, rooted in the wisdom of the past. Check back for full reading list.
The cost for attending the program is just $749, with some scholarship opportunities available. This includes all of your meals, room and board for the period of your stay. Although we encourage students to be residential for the full experience, a limited number of commuter students will be accepted. Some scholarships are available for students for whom the cost is prohibitive.
Dr. Alastair Roberts, a Teaching Fellow of the Theopolis Institute and the Davenant Institute, a leading evangelical blogger and writer, and one of the hosts of the Mere Fidelity podcast. He has lectured in Christian Ethics at London Seminary, and is author of two books from Crossway Echoes of Exodus: Tracing Themes of Redemption through Scripture (2018) and, Heirs Together: A Theology of the Sexes (forthcoming 2021). He blogs at www.alastairadversaria.com.
Joseph Minich (Ph.D, The University of Texas at Dallas) is a Teaching Fellow with The Davenant Institute. The founding editor of Ad Fontes, he is also the author of Enduring Divine Absence, and is the editor of several volumes with The Davenant Press. Currently, he is c0-host of the Pilgrim Faith podcast, and a regular contributor for Modern Reformation. He lives in Garland, Texas, with his wife and four children.
W. Bradford Littlejohn is the President of the Davenant Institute. He has a PhD in Theology and Ethics from the University of Edinburgh where he focused on the concepts of law, authority and Christian liberty in the English Reformation and on the thought of sixteenth-century Anglican, Richard Hooker. Littlejohn wrote his dissertation under the supervision of Oliver O’Donovan and Joan Lockwood O’Donovan. He is the author of The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology.
Dates: August 2-13, 2021
Please plan your flight to arrive on the afternoon or evening of August 1
Tired of Easy Answers to Hard Questions?
Too often, discipleship in our day relies on polemic generalizations, caricatures, and easy answers. This keeps those in its school dependent on being fed superficial talking points, rather than training them to be attentive to the fine-grained complexity of created reality.
Wisdom, unlike worldview, cannot be downloaded from a server or acquired from a video course. It requires a retrieval of the lost art of conversation and the cultivation of intellectually rich friendship. Wisdom is a gathering of truth in love of God, so as to embody and radiate it to the world. It comes from possessing the principles of reality in the mind, illuminated by the Spirit-filled heart, and for the sake of the knowledge of God and glorifying Him. It makes free men and women capable of prudence and virtuous practice who can lead in their communities as servant heroes.
This is the vision for Davenant House.
My week at the Protestant Wisdom course was a formative time of study that has enriched my spiritual life and equipped me to pursue further studies in English Literature at the University of Cambridge. I formed lasting friendships with Dr. Alastair Roberts and fellow students as we worshiped together, read foundational texts, and engaged in meaningful discussions. The course played a key role in my acceptance at Cambridge, demonstrating my ability to interact extensively with rigorous textual material. I highly recommend it as a time for spiritual formation and serious intellectual stimulation.
The Davenant House Protestant Wisdom Summer Programs are designed to help train Christian undergraduates, grad students, and seminarians in Christian wisdom so that they can serve and lead the church and their local communities. Students come to live together, work together, eat, pray, and read together, and above all converse together. Each day consists of morning and evening prayer, time allocated for gardening, cooking, or manual labor on the property, communal meals, designated times for quiet reading and study, lectures, and seminars for Socratic discussion of key texts. The programs are held at Davenant House, a property located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in upstate South Carolina.
Join us on a foray into each of the following five themes:
Bible and Core Dogmatics
Sure, you’ve studied the Bible before, but do you understand the grand narrative of Scripture—creation, fall, redemption, new creation? Do you have a sense for which doctrines are central to Protestant faith and which are peripheral. Gain a firmer grounding in your faith through readings from Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zacharias Ursinus, Al Wolters and Todd Billings.
Principles of Christian Philosophy
Given that God equipped us with the gift of reason and called us to the vocation of knowing the world, how is it that we come to knowledge and what can we know? And how, on the Christian view, can an infinite God relate himself to a finite creation? Explore the answers to these foundational questions through readings from Thomas Aquinas, Richard Hooker, Stephen Clark, and Pierre-Marie Emonet.
A Christian natural philosophy
Ethics and the challenge of modernity
politics and faithful citizenship
I was incredibly blessed by by time at the Davenant House last summer. Obviously we read a lot of great books and the instructors were all excellent. I grew intellectually in the two weeks, especially in my understanding of natural law within the Reformed tradition. In addition to the intellectual stimulation there were many other benefits. Living with the Hughes family and the other students was an education in itself and a sweet taste of what true Christian community can be. Listening to Alastair exposit the Scriptures left me with a burning desire to study the Bible more systematically and deeply, and I left the program equipped to pursue such study. Lastly, the rolling hills, beautiful green trees, and serene Lake Lanier, proved a great environment to peacefully meditate upon how I can better serve God in the current stage of my life and upon what vocation God is leading me towards in the future.
Alastair was fantastic. He was both magisterial and approachable. He made the work of Theology something much less abstract than had been taught to me before.
Being instructed in Theology as a discipline by someone who does it professionally…exceeded my expectations.
I did not expect that I would enjoy the program as much as I did. The best part was getting to know the other people. I made great friends while reading great books and working in the woods. Two weeks of almost constant laughter.
The Davenant House has all the ingredients for a stimulating period of intellectual and spiritual growth: excellent books, stirring conversations, homemade meals, stunning nature vistas, and a commitment to pursue wisdom together through communal work, reasoning, and recreation. I’ve never experienced such a unified curricula, where each week—drawing on Aristotle, Aquinas, Calvin, and post-Reformation theologians—built upon the last and the selected texts incrementally brought us closer to the real, enduring, and solid principles of life in God’s world.
The Church, now as always, needs open discussion of important, intellectual issues, as well as active collaboration and fellowship among Christians in advancing the mission of the Church, and the Davenant House is a good effort towards that direction.