Christiaan Westerkamp

Summit Student Conference Christiaan Westerkamp 2015 CaliforniaSummit Ministries.

The name rings with a familiar tune: A Christian camp nestled between two great mountains overlooking a sparkling blue lake, filled to the brim with great spiritual revival and thousands upon thousands of people and churches flock to reconnect with the Lord. Then, the actual Summit—the connecting point between earth and the vast sky opens up to heaven where humans can gaze down on God’s great creation and also look up the seemingly endless universe. While that may be the case at Summit Colorado, here at Summit California, we get to enjoy a little piece of paradise under the warm Southern California sun on Biola University’s campus.

Fresh out of a private Christian high school as of a week ago, I was hesitant to spend two weeks living on a university campus with strangers learning more about my faith. And yet my perspective on this program completely changed just after one day of attending the lecture; we dove straight into deep theological, political, and social issues all while maintaining a Christian worldview.

This program opened our eyes to the fundamental knowledge that the Christian worldview bases its roots in aiding people to live a God-honoring life, which, contrary to what the world says, is a worldview which not only sustains life but also seeks out and finds all the best in that life.

All my life I have been raised in the church and have attended private, Christian schools with the exception of one year. In these past three years at Christian high schools, I have had classes about the Bible, Christian Worldview, and Reformed Doctrine. Last year, my Bible class was Christian Worldview where we learned all about that, ergo the name of the class, as well as other worldviews such as Postmodern, Naturalist, Pantheist, etc. Here, in one of our seminars with Dr. Myers, we dug deeper into understanding what different worldviews entail—farther than I’d ever delved before. It was both intriguing and enlightening to learn about all the other worldviews out there and come to grips with how they influence our society.

For example, Dr. Myers taught us about the Marxist Worldview: how it began, what its beliefs are, and nations that have instituted this doctrine. Prior to this lecture, I had only thought of it as a political ideology. It was only afterwards I realized how powerful worldviews are since they can affect every aspect of our lives, including our governments.

Learning how to have a discussion with an atheist

At Summit, we students have learned not only how to defend our faith, but also have learned the truth behind our faith and how to win the person as opposed to just winning the argument. As an introduction the conference, Sean McDowell, a bold and outgoing professor, roleplayed as an Atheist who took on our questions. After a half-hour of answering a wide variety of questions, McDowell took off his “Atheist glasses” and was back to his normal self. The first thing he told us was how shocked he was by the fact that we treated him so respectfully. McDowell went on to speak about how many Atheists and other skeptical people have come to him and said that they are turned off by Christians and Christianity due to bold, inconsiderate behavior towards those who are Atheists or skeptics.

His words echoed in my mind and made me reconsider how I have lived my life in accordance with God’s Word and how exactly I have gone about treating non-Christians in sharing my beliefs. One of the most important lessons which is continually being instilled in us here at Summit Conferences is listen first, then speak.

Summit Ministries has truly been a blessing in my life. Going to a public university next year will be a big change from what I’m used to, but now I am armed with the answers, unknown to me before this week, in order to courageously defend my faith in our loving Lord Jesus Christ. This conference has hosted wonderful speakers who are extremely well educated and have doctorates in fields such as philosophy, physics, and world religions.

Because we have listened to such knowledgeable speakers who are Christians and have encountered much criticism from their intellectual peers, we students dealt with topics such as, abortion, relativity, doubt, homosexuality, How (Not) to Read the Bible, creationism, knowing the will of God, consciousness… the list goes on and on, in the best sort of way.

Free Time and Discussion

In our free time, we’ve enjoyed the weather and physical activities, spent time in thoughtful discussion with others and done our own studying. One of my favorite memories thus far was when we had a lecture from Dr. J.P. Moreland, a professor of philosophy here at Biola University. In his lecture, he said something quite controversial: “God is not infinite.” And with that, we were released for a fifteen-minute break. But students around me, distraught by his bold statement, fidgeted and glanced around anxiously—we were all listening on the edges of our seats for Dr. Moreland’s explanation.

Fortunately, he explained what he meant by that—which settled all our nerves—but also provided us with great discussions at our lunch tables. To clarify: what Dr. Moreland meant about God not being infinite was that God did not have to pass infinity in order to create the universe since He is atemporal and is not, and was not, bound by the laws of space and time since these did not exist until the creation which He began. Yes, He is infinite in our sense of space and time. However, He is more than that and much more than we could ever imagine. Though that is a rough summation of what Moreland stated, that is the gist of his quasi-controversial point.

As the days go by faster than ever before, my peers and I eagerly await what we will learn tomorrow. The days here at the Summit conference are what it’s like being on a mountain’s summit; we look down on the world below us and see it as God sees it, rather than how we see the world in our everyday life down the mountain. Up on the summit we also can gaze up, humbled by the infinity of God’s nature to see a clear sky opening up the heavens to the world; here on the summit we paint a clearer picture of God and His might.