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.



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="">Fabio Sola Penna</a>, <a title="from Flickr" href="">Flickr</a> | <a title="Creative Commons Attribution License &#10;" style="font-size: .8em" href="">CC-BY</a>  | <a title="Easily credit free 'marriage' pictures with Wylio." href="">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. 


On Changing Marriage

Photo Credit: "The Supreme Court 2011", © 2011 DonkeyHotey, Flickr | CC-BY  | via Wylio

The debate over same-sex marriage is raging right now. And regardless of the anticipated and upcoming decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), it will rage on. This is so precisely for the same reasons that the debate over abortion rages on. People on all sides of these discussions are emotionally involved, deeply invested, and filled with conviction. 

Sometimes it is not easy to know what the best case is for different sides of the debate. But it is good to know what the best cases are. Caricatures, stereotypes, and straw man renditions simply will not do. And it can be difficult to locate the best arguments and to hear them challenged and tested by opponents. Then there is the task of trying to assess all of the above so as to draw our own conclusions that we believe take into account all that is relevant.