A new “ecclesiological think tank” offers a valuable but incomplete summary.
What is the church? Though the question has dogged Christians since the Book of Acts, there has been something of a renewal of interest among American evangelicals. Over the past few years, especially in the wake of cultural transformations in American society, evangelicals have sought to rearticulate their identity and mission. One example might be the renewal of emphasis on the local church as a non-negotiable experience of authentic faith. Another might be the recent surge of literature attempting to clarify the relationship of Christians to a post-Christian public square. Both trends speak to the same phenomenon: American evangelicals are not content with individualistic spirituality. They are asking, “What does all this mean?”
The Davenant Institute exists to answer that question. Based in Lincoln, Nebraska, the nonprofit group of academics, writers, and Christian thinkers—led by scholar Bradford Littlejohn and Mere Orthodoxy editor-in-chief Jake Meador—seeks to recover, in their words, “the lost riches of Christian wisdom.” Pulling extensively from Reformation and post-Reformation historical theology, The Davenant Institute might be characterized as an ecclesiological think tank, providing a distinctly Reformed perspective on questions such as politics, Christ and culture, and Protestant identity.
Their first book, People of the Promise: A Mere Protestant Ecclesiology, features essays by ten different Reformed Protestant thinkers on the doctrine of the church. The scholarly and literary quality of People of the Promise is high, and with a variety of authors and denominational traditions represented, the book certainly makes for an intriguing and worthwhile crash course in historic …