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.


Do and Don’t: The Golden Rule and Its Negative Version

Do and Don’t: The Golden Rule and Its Negative Version

Kevin James Bywater

• • •

While at a British New Testament Conference in 2007,  I participated in a number of seminars focused on interpreting the New Testament in light of the literature of Second Temple Judaism. One presenter discussed the positive and negative formulations of the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It was noted that most often in the literature of the early church the rule appears in a negative form: “Don’t do to others what you would not like them to do to you.”

Now, some have proposed that this negative form has a more limited force since it merely discourages doing harm to others rather than encouraging the doing of service for them. As such, the negative version may lend itself to a more restrictive application (e.g., “Hey, I didn’t hurt anyone!”). Also, it is conceivable that someone could use the negative form to justify inaction. However, others have proposed that the two forms imply each other. For me, while I could see the positive formulation implying the negative, the opposite is more difficult to manage.


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.



Of Religions and Relationships

Not a Religion but a Relationship?

by Kevin James Bywater

It is common commonly said that “Christianity is not a religion but a relationship.” I see this as a false dichotomy, in essence, though, as an emphasis, it can be quite instructive. Permit me to explain.


The Religion Ditches

A while back I was speaking with a friend. He explained that many of the youth with whom he works fall into one of two ditches along their path of life (my metaphor, not his): some see Christianity as a religion in which one gains favor with God, and a place in heaven, on the basis of good works; others see Christianity as a religion in which, due to the righteousness of Jesus being imputed to us, our actions have no bearing whatsoever on our relationship with God, let alone our eternal destiny.

As we discussed these troubling missteps, it became increasingly apparent how helpful it is to see that our Christian faith indeed is a relationship with Jesus, a friendship, even a marriage.

When we see that our relationship with God is neither a works-based religion where we merit divine love, nor a license to do whatever we please, then we crave some clarity about just what it is. To my mind, it is much like other important relationships. Let us explore these for a couple of minutes.


The God Who Is There, D.A. Carson

godwhoisthereNow and then I wonder what good resources might be available to introduce people to the Christian faith. I’ve recommended various titles throughout the years of my own loyalty to Jesus Christ. But over the last few years I’ve returned with appreciation to D.A. Carson’s book, The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story.

Running at 224 pages and 14 chapters, it is a medium-sized volume. One fun feature of the book is that you can watch the corresponding talks by Carson in a 14-part series online. You also can download mp3s of the lectures. I’ll link the videos and audios with the corresponding chapter titles below.


Weekend Reading: Church Decline and Demographics (and a master writer)

courtesy of unsplash.comThe following are excerpts from articles well worth reading in their entirety. They are presented here in no particular order. And they were somewhat arbitrarily selected from dozens of others that were read this week. They include articles on…

• the church and the poor and the culture war
• the prematurely announced demise of the Christian church in America
• how marriage was already redefined in western culture, and even among evangelicals
• 5 ways Europe is trying to get people to have more babies
• where we should go from here on marriage in our culture
• some thoughts on writing by William Zinsser
• a video by Frank Turek on why Christians should be involved in politics

Enjoy some weekend reading! 


Judicial Culture-Making

The following observations of Judge Robert H. Bork are worthy of some consideration as we await the upcoming Supreme Court decision on Obergefell v. Hodgesa case regarding whether or not these federal judges will require all states to permit same-sex-marriage, that is, whether the SCOTUS will yet again engage in a bit of judicial culture-making.

“Along with the undoubted successes of judicial dominance has come a virulent judicial activism that increasingly calls into question the authority of representative government and the vitality of traditional values as they evolve through nonjudicial institutions, public and private. Instead, Americans are force-fed a new culture and new definitions of virtue, all in the name of a Constitution that neither commands nor permits such results. America is moving from the rule of law to the rule of judges.” —Robert H. Bork, Coercing Virtue: The Worldwide Rule of Judges (Washington, D.C.: AEI, 2003) 52

Frankly, I find it rather clarifying to realize that five (out of nine) lawyers in black robes can redefine for American law and culture what is good, what is true, what is beautiful, and what is just.

Five people.



Orienting Marriage

Photo Credit: "Marriage in Budapest", &copy; 2010 <a title="'Marriage in Budapest' published on Flickr by Fabio Sola Penna" href="https://www.flickr.com/people/solapenna/">Fabio Sola Penna</a>, <a title="from Flickr" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/solapenna/6397849549/">Flickr</a> | <a title="Creative Commons Attribution License &#10;https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/" style="font-size: .8em" href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC-BY</a>  | <a title="Easily credit free 'marriage' pictures with Wylio." href="https://www.wylio.com">via Wylio</a>


As western culture issues forth a whirlwind of words and emotive engagements about marriage and sexuality, it behoves us to be conversant with the people and competing conceptions of reality colliding before our very eyes. It is worth making time for this. But it will take some time. However, the pay out is significant.

It is evident that we could use some help in rightly orienting marriage and sexuality.

This past weekend I came across a series of presentations by two extraordinary people, both of whom have spent years living, studying, and thinking about marriage and sexuality. They are extraordinarily skilled and have a clear command of the required rhetoric. More than that, both also have tremendous hearts, as is evident throughout their presentations.

You must note, however, when combined, the presentations are over five hours long. There is an option on YouTube where you can speed up a video. It is in under the settings cog at the lower righthand side of the video. There you can increase the speed 1.25, 1.5, or 2 times normal. That can help with the overall time. However, each of these presentations is worth listening to with care and attention, perhaps more than once. 


Enough Love for Both of Us

A Meditation on Fatherly Affections

A bit more than a decade, in a land far away. 

The Whirley-Pop was heating up quickly now. We were looking forward to an evening feast of mouth-watering popcorn. A friend was over for the evening.

There is little else more satisfying than fellowship with good friends and handfuls of good food. (To my mind, food is the mortar of fellowship.)

That’s when I heard the wailing and awaited the tears.