10 Presentations You Must See

10 Presentations You Must See

Lists like this are a bit of a gimmick. “Click bait” is the term, I believe. But I’m listing them here out of a conviction that the presentations that follow are, in fact, worth your time. While other presentations surely are just as worthy of your time, these are ten that have impressed me as worth hearing here at the end of 2016 (and, no, these aren’t necessarily presentations made or posted in 2016).

Now, I struggled with even the thought of attempting to rank these, or even to put them here in any particular order. Different considerations would result in a different ordering. But I’m not ranking or ordering them in terms of importance. I feel like each is important is significant and notable ways. So, I offer you ten presentations I believe you’ll want to watch or hear.

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Oh, Those Amazing Feats!

Oh, Those Amazing Feats!

Kevin James Bywater

• • •

Fire-walking? Oh, those amazing feats!

Perhaps you’ve seen them on late-night television. You know, “awaken the giant within” and other such rallying cries.

The conferees line up — some quietly confident, others perspiring and nervous. They roll up their trousers and hike up their skirts and . . . off they go.

Sure, it’s virtually speed-walking, but who’s to judge? Look, Mom, no hands, and no burns either.

So, is fire-walking really such an amazing feat?

firewalking

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Readings at Summit Oxford • Spring Term 2016

It undoubtedly is a truism that one can be wearied by the reading of many books. Perhaps even more so, the reading of many online articles, a bulk of blogs, frenzied Facebook statuses, hasty hashtags, and awful opinions. Even so, some publications actually can be enlightening, perhaps challenging. Some most certainly are fuel for our conversations at Summit Oxford. And sometimes our conversation get to be a bit energetic. I call these CHAT times: Christians Happily Arguing Theology (hopefully with an emphasis upon happily).

Readings at Summit Oxford • Hilary Term 2016

Our reading list changes a bit from term to term. New books are published, older ones seem less pressing or helpful, and there is ever a steady stream of articles and chapters on subjects that beg to be included. We do read a lot, mind you, approaching 2500 pages.

For the upcoming coming Autumn Term (September – December), along with a selection of articles, essays, and other items, we are reading and discussing the ten volumes listed below. I have listed them roughly in the order we will read them. Well, actually, several of them will be divvied up over the course of several days, with a chapter or section each day. Often I have our students read the books in their entirety and prepare reports/summaries for select chapters or sections. I’ve provided links to Amazon, if you care to purchase any of them.

December2015

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Do Muslims, Mormons, and Christians Worship the Same God?

Do Muslims, Mormons,
and Christians Worship the Same God?

Kevin James Bywater

• • •

I would like to explore an important subject with you: the worship of God. I beg your patience as this is a longish post. The inquiry deserves careful and sustained attention. My thoughts are informed yet exploratory. So, with your permission, and with your patience, join me as we explore a very controversial subject.

Do Mormons and Christians worship the same God? How about Muslims and Christians? These questions occupy time in the minds of many just now.

worship

Introduction

Since 9-11 it has been common to hear that Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same God, especially given that these three religions are commonly called “Abrahamic religions.” And some would add in Mormons, since Mormonism also resides in what could be termed the Abrahamic tradition.

When I ask Christians this question, most quickly answer in the negative. But a few answer in a hesitating affirmative.

What is the correct answer to this question? Or, alternatively, what if we have asked the wrong question?

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It’s the End of the World . . . Again

keep calm end of the world7 October 2015, Oxfordshire – Well, it’s the end of the world…again. (Here is the official soundtrack, if you’d like some background ambiance.) Last week I published the post below, noting a beastly number of proposed prophetic fulfillments I’ve endured throughout my Christian life. If only it could end!

Another Christian group has announced that Earth will be destroyed . . . today!  I mean, before the clock strikes midnight . . . in some time zone or another . . . the end. How frustrating is that?! We haven’t even spent our tax return yet. Our weekend plans. And I was just beginning to drop some pounds (both in terms of health . . . and wealth, given that we live here in the U.K. and the exchange rate can feel like a second death).

I mean, what if you were finishing preparations for a sermon, hoping to help your congregation distinguish between biblical eschatology and the more popular escapology? Yep, escapology, defined as “the distinct desire that everyone’s life would end at the same time, so no one could continue to grow in holiness or guide others toward the grace of Jesus Christ” (see First Impressions 6:66; Second Opinions 7:77; and c.f., Hesitations 3:2 . . . 3:2 . . . 3:21).

What strikes me, honestly, is that one might hope that our prayers would be aligned with those of our Lord Jesus when he prayed, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). Or perhaps we could align our prayers with the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:19-26, where he wrote in vv.24ff, “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

In light of all the failed predictions of prophetic fulfillment, such desired and practiced fidelity would be so very refreshing.

What I’d like to do is point you to the material below, if you have the time. Ha! What else are you going to do in our final hours? Then again, if Earth is incinerated later today (or if it already happened before you read this), then what I’ve written here will be so very passé. Then again, I find these current prognostications distinctly dubious. So dubious do I find them –and given that I found the announcement online – I could be persuaded to classify this nonsense not only a version of escapology but as e-scatology (see Philippians 3:8). But perhaps that can wait until tomorrow . . . if there is one.

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Prophets and Profiteers

I wanted to spend more time on this post, but time ran out (pun intended). Honestly, the wondrous realities of real people got in the way: family, friends, our wonderful students at the Summit Oxford Study Centre. So, I’ll leave this as it is: a little bit raw.

blood moon

History and Hysteria

Since I became a follower of Jesus in late-1987, I have endured a series of seasons where Christians and others have believed that humanity is on the verge of some dramatic and traumatic event, one that is foretold in the Bible, and preferably ensconced in some vague passage, and especially with an appeal to a Hebrew term with wide lexical options or a variety applications or a myriad of resonances, and most preferably with  some numbers (any number will do), and most desirous are numbers that are easily divided by others that can be deemed significant in some way or another.

Oh, the magic of it all.

Were these prophetic? That is the question. Or were they just pathetic? Well, that may be a bit provocative, even if a bit more apropos.

Rapture CardThe truth is, the quasi-prophetic speculations of each of these seasons failed…failed…and failed most miserably, even if reluctantly.

What they said the Bible said was false…false…, thus granting motivation to some who would dismiss the Bible all the more.

These folks may not be false prophets, technically, but they surely are not commendable readers, leaders, or teachers. Yes, perhaps they are just very bad teachers, people we should not follow, should not believe. People whose books we should not have purchased!

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Science vs. Knowledge

“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.”

It is hard to imagine a way to be more provocative when writing in a scientific journal. Regardless, on 11 April 2015, the British medical journal, The Lancet, published a single-page comment by Richard Horton that summarized the senses and feelings of many who were present at a recent, closed-door symposium in London. Among the conclusions was the above bombshell. Much more was said as well. 

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Communicating Our Convictions

Greg Koukl, the president of Stand to Reason, has for many years now provided both hours of engaging radio commentary and a host of insightful articles. Greg is on the International Advisory Board for the Summit Oxford Study Centre (which I founded and currently direct), and he also is a friend.

Well over a decade ago Greg began speaking at Summit Ministriesstudent summer conferences. Personally, I was very pleased to have him on our faculty as his contributions were intelligent, clarifying, experienced, and mature. Greg is a careful thinker and speaker, conscious of which words are better to use and how best to use them. One learns not only from the content of his messages but also from the manner of his messaging.

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I Hate Mike Adams – And We’ll Take Two

I Hate Mike Adams…and we’ll take two!

My friends know that I like books. I don’t read very quickly, so I read really often. And in our home, well, we don’t have a television. We have bookshelves. We all like books. We’re all readers (well, the youngest is working at it). As one sage man once often said, leaders are readers.

As I explained in a recent blog post, I Hate Mike Adams, and so should you (and you should read that post first, before reading this post). But perhaps I should explain that this primarily is because we’ve spent so little time with him — you know, being separated by the Atlantic and all. Perhaps even more so it is because he has refused to visit us in Oxford thus far. We find that a bit off-putting.

Even so, just before the weekend we received a package that contained a double dose of Mike’s good will. We received two copies, one signed, of Mike’s latest book: Letters to a Young Progressive: How to Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don’t Understand. I’m trying to read it, but, well, how shall I explain this.

Again, we don’t own a television. Our kids were without adequate reading material. And this volatile mix makes for some guerrilla maneuvers from time to time. So our eldest dawned appropriate attire, and our kids grabbed both copies of Letters to a Young Progressive and sat down to read them this evening. 

Mike Adams
We Hate Mike Adams — and that with at least four thumbs up!

Now, there are several upsides to all of this. Here are ten that come to mind just now.

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I Hate Mike Adams

I Hate Mike Adamsi hate mike adams

Yes, that is what is printed across the chest of a t-shirt I have in my wardrobe. Of course, the surprise might be that it was given to me by my friend, Mike Adams. And he has more of them. And bumper stickers too.

Mike gave it to me last summer, when we were back in Manitou Springs, Colorado. I’ve been on staff with Summit Ministries since the summer of 1992. Mike has been a regular speaker at Summit’s summer seminars for quite a few years now. Mike and I had spent an evening with some friends, including Scott Klusendorf and John Stonestreet. And Mike and I had enjoyed some pun-ping-pong. (Of course, puns are the highest form of humor, as you know.)

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