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April 04, 2009

Sprung Spring

The Summit Oxford fellows have begun a new era. Our Oxford tutorials have run their natural courses, and we are now engaged in all the depth and intensity of worldview training with Mr. Bywater. It has been nice to read the same books and share a schedule with my Summit Oxford colleagues. Every day that we meet at the Bywater's house in Eynsham (a small village west of Oxford) is a glorious occasion to refresh our minds in the Scriptures, and the times of relaxation and fellowship in the evenings have been delightful occasions.

Not only is the nature of our study changed, the whole city has assumed the mantle of spring. Trees that I once shivered under on my way into town are now in full blossom. The sun shows itself for days at a time, and even provides the long desired warmth. The Oxford tutorials themselves were not cold or dreary, but the weather doesn't always match the nature of my activities.

Our Summit material has been focused on religions and philosophies that consider the Bible as a holy text or at least a tributary. Mormonism, Cosmic Humanism and Islam all claim portions or certain interpretations of the Bible as an authoritative text. Through studying the alternate interpretations of the Bible that these religions use, a clear contrast can be seen between Christianity and the other religions based, at least in part, on the Bible. I've learned a great deal about how to discover the meaning of a passage of scripture through considering the context of the immediate passage and the whole canon. It is clear to me that proper bible interpretation is of utmost importance for Christians.

But as I am taught how to read the Bible more accurately, I can't help but ponder my own weakness. I wonder what assistance I can offer to my fellow man who does not worship the Lord. I know very little, but I know that much. I am weak, as they are weak, but I know someone strong. Chesterton described it quite marvelously:

Yea, we are mad as they are mad,
Yea, we are blind as they are blind,
Yea, we are very sick and sad
Who bring good news to all mankind.

As we enter the final month of study in Oxford, I am reminded again at what a joy it is to be here, and how grateful I am to all the family and friends who support and pray for me. This term has been, and will continue to be, a formative and inspiring chance to provide a foundation for my occupation as servant of God.

Thomas Phippen
Fellow, Hilary Term '09

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