The Future of Protestantism in a Pope Francis Age

Apr. 25, 2014 By Jenna Bartlo

LA MIRADA, CALIF. — Protestants, long characterized as being “anti-Catholic,” appear to have largely embraced Pope Francis, who embodies a Christ-like role model for many — Catholics and Protestants alike. Since the pope’s installation, many in the media and the church have asked, “Will Pope Francis change evangelical and Protestant relations with the Catholic church?”

On April 29, 2014, Biola University will host and webcast “The Future of Protestantism,” a conversation among four theologians, including author Peter Leithart, who in late 2013 ignited an important dialogue on the meaning, role and future of Protestantism with a popular First Things article titled “The End of Protestantism.”

“Protestantism has had a good run. … But the world and the Church have changed, and Protestantism isn’t what the Church, including Protestants themselves, needs today,” wrote Leithart. “It’s time to turn the protest against Protestantism and to envision a new way of being heirs of the Reformation, a new way that happens to conform to the original Catholic vision of the Reformers.”

So, should the shape of Protestant theology and the Protestant consciousness still be determined by the Reformation’s reaction to Roman Catholicism?

“The Reformation was all about reclaiming the full heritage of the ancient church, and Protestantism today should get its act together and carry on with that ancient task,” said Biola professor and author Fred Sanders, who wrote “Glad Protestantism,” the widely read response to Leithart’s original article.  

Sanders, Leithart and Carl Trueman, professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, will delve into the issue in a dialogue moderated by Peter Escalante, vice president of The Davenant Trust.

The event, sponsored by Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute, First Things and The Davenant Trust, will be held in Calvary Chapel at Biola University at 7 p.m. Entry is free and open to the public. A live webcast will be available at  

Fred Sanders is Associate Professor in the Torrey Honors Institute of Biola University. His most recent book is “Wesley on the Christian Life: The Heart Renewed in Love.” Peter Leithart is President of Trinity House and author, most recently, of “Gratitude: An Intellectual History” (Baylor). Carl Trueman is Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, and is the author of numerous books. Peter Escalante is a founding Editor of The Calvinist International, a forum for research, resourcement, and renewal of Christian wisdom, and the Vice President of The Davenant Trust.

For media interviews or press passes, contact Jenna Bartlo, media relations specialist, at 562.777.4061 or


  • John C Oct. 14, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    For the Sake of the Holiness of Biola University and their students. I pray you all stay away from the false religion, pagan rituals of the catholic church. As a Seminary and a place of study of God, we ought to stick to the Word of God. Paganism and all its practices are against God the Father of our Savior Jesus the Son of the Living God. God Bless you Biola and stick to the word of God.

  • 562Omar May. 6, 2015 at 8:34 AM

    Very interesting topic! Maybe a gradual return home is what our Lord is directing?

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