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.


Jesus, Greater than the Angels? Opening the Book of Hebrews

Jesus, Greater than the Angels?
Opening the Book of Hebrews

Kevin James Bywater

• • •

For years, I wondered why the book of Hebrews began with so much attention on angels (Heb 1:1-2:18). The book seemed to me to be focused more on the priestly service described in the book of Leviticus—tabernacle, priests, sacrifices, offerings, washings, etc.—so why all this attention to angels? One might notice that Jesus was presented as one greater than Moses (Heb 3:1-6), better than the high priests, more effective than the sacrifices. Sure, but why does the book begin with a focus on angels? And just what exactly was the message brought by the angels (Heb 2:2)?

There appears to be some connection between the divine revelation delivered through Moses and the message that came through angels.[1] But what message came through angels? Again, why bring up angels and spend so much time arguing that Jesus is superior to them and that his message is more pressing than theirs (see Heb 2:2-3)?

Jesus greater than angels - blue white box


Restoring the Constitution: Senator Ben Sasse

Senator Ben SasseRestoring the Constitution
Senator Ben Sasse on
Uncommon Knowledge

In early 2016, Ben Sasse, a junior Congressman from Nebraska, was asked by Chuck Todd what conservatism meant to Sasse in the twenty-first century. His response almost sounded scripted. However, one gets the impression that the answer simply emerged from the clear and clarifying convictions regarding the U.S. Constitution that reside in the very marrow of Dr. Ben Sasse.

Now Senator Sasse has been interviewed by the intrepid Peter Robinson on the program Uncommon Knowledge. The topic? Restoring the Constitution. This is a conversation worth listening to a time or two or three. 


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.



Sharia, Ballet, Mosques and Damp Socks

Sharia, Ballet, Mosques and Damp Socks

Personal Reflections on Exploring Views Online,
in History, in Person, and in Islamic Legal Texts

Kevin James Bywater
• • •

Please forgive me for the length of this post. I’ve decided not to divide it up into separate posts since it is more coherent as a single post. There are three sections: the first explains that I’ve recently been conversing online about Sharia with a Muslim man; the second recounts my time with him in London on Saturday; the third presents my follow-up thoughts regarding a Sharia manual that he had recommended I consult.

emmeline ballet


OT Law & NT Ethics – 7: The Law and the Gospel (and Abraham)

It has been a while since I posted a new installment in the series exploring the relationship between Old Testament law and New Testament ethics. Sorry about that. Life has a way…of getting in the way. If you’ve not read the previous installments, well, I would strongly suggest that you grant enough time to do so. There is a madness to the method.

Previous Posts in This Series

Here are the earlier posts:

1 – Prefatory Playfulness
2 – Love and Leviticus 
3 – Practice and Priorities
4 – Abominations
5 – Ritual Impurity
6 – The Ten Commandments


Now, it may be surprising that, while in a series discussing the relationship between Old Testament law and New Testament ethics, one would include a post focused on the gospel. But it shouldn’t be too surprising, I should think.

We often hear law and gospel set in peculiar opposition, as if you cannot have both, as if you must have either one or the other, as if law vs. gospel. To be forthright, I’d like to challenge that, or at least insist that it needs to be seriously nuanced.

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Preaching Isaiah – Divine Affections and Aversions

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege and honor of preaching at our church, St. Leonard’s Church in Eynsham. We are at the beginning of a sermon series in Isaiah. I’ll attach the audio at the end of this post. My text was Isaiah 2:1-5, a grand vision of the nations streaming to the mountain of God to be instructed in God’s ways for the practice of peace.


Provocative Poets

I imagine each of us has been instructed that there are two subjects one should avoid when in polite company: religion and politics. What I take away from this is that the biblical prophets most definitely were not polite company.Indeed, the prophets were poets who provoked people to repent and reprioritize.

Consider these pointed words by a contemporary Christian poet residing in London.


If chance be
the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky,
and when you hear

state of emergency
sniper kills ten
troops on rampage
whites go looting
bomb blasts school

it is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.

–Steve Turner, Up To Date

A prophet is a provocative poet, but also one who pronounces hope to God’s troubled people. Prophets don’t only cry for justice; they confront injustice. They don’t simply proclaim that we should have faith in God, they point up infidelity and put it on parade. None of which is very polite, to be sure, though it is the word and will of the LORD.


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.