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OPINION

Summit Oxford

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Over the course of the last few months, main stream media attacks on Michele Bachmann have intensified. Most of those attacks have been careless. Some have even taken aim at Summit Ministries, which is a place where I teach and where Michele has sent several of her children for Biblical worldview instruction. Michele and her husband have also attended Summit adult conferences held every spring in the Garden of the Gods near Summit’s campus in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Critics of Michele Bachmann have tried to hurt her and Summit by wrongfully characterizing the ministry as an intellectually-shallow summer Bible camp. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Summit is a serious academic camp that brings in serious speakers with strong academic resumes. Examples include Professors Francis Beckwith, J.P. Moreland, and Norman Geisler. Additional programs - especially the Summit Oxford study abroad program - show that the ministry’s commitment to serious intellectual inquiry extends far beyond its two-week summer academic camps.

The Summit Oxford Study Centre is an educational program combining the unique worldview approach of Summit Ministries with the academic strengths of Oxford University. Summit Oxford students have a chance to study with Oxford tutors. These are not lectures but concentrated and personalized tutorials with world-class scholars. Summit Oxford students study a wide range of topics including literature, law, politics, philosophy, and theology.

What makes Summit Oxford unique in comparison with other study abroad programs is the four-week worldview course with Summit’s Kevin Bywater. The conversations are varied, open, engaging, and always weighty. In addition to the intensive study, throughout the Oxford term there are weekly worldview colloquia and personalized mentoring sessions. Students get the kind of one-on-one attention they cannot get from their graduate TAs in a typical state-run institution.

Summit provides a profound opportunity to develop critical thinking skills, personal character and understanding that can propel the serious student forward with all the courage of solid intellectually-based Christian convictions. Summit students prayerfully ponder the past, press in to the present, and pursue their full intellectual potential in preparation for the future. The goal is informed and faithful scholarship that will help Christian students engage the culture. Summit really believes that Christians should shape the culture rather than being shaped by it.

The Summit Oxford course runs concurrently and in tandem with Oxford tutorial studies already provided through the Oxford Study Abroad Program. The combination is a substantial 15-week semester. The beauty of the Summit Oxford approach is that, in coordination with home institutions, students may receive upwards of 18 credit hours for the term. In other words, they may take a semester to study in Oxford without falling behind at the American University from which they plan to graduate. It is quite appealing for students to have a semester of study abroad experience on their resume – from Oxford University, no less.

A recent attack piece appeared on the CNN website, which criticized Michele Bachman for serving on the Summit Ministries Board of Directors. Unfortunately, the writer of the piece did not check her facts sufficiently, if she checked them at all. Michele Bachmann sits on the board of a Minnesota Summit Project that is wholly unrelated to Summit Ministries in Colorado.

The author of the CNN attack piece is a twenty-something who has written a memoir explaining how she has matured and “escaped” from her parents conservative Christian beliefs. Predictably, she now claims to have attained a more enlightened liberal Christian worldview. Those who are enlightened enough to write memoirs while in their early twenties are probably convinced they have outgrown the requirement of checking facts thoroughly.

Rather than relying on CNN, I would urge readers to log on to the Summit website, www.Summit.org, and learn what the Colorado ministry is really all about. Or encourage your kids to submit an application to Summit Oxford, http://www.summit.org/institutes/oxford/, for a semester of intensive study abroad. It will be a worthwhile investment that your children may someday write about it in their own personal memoirs. God willing, they may declare that Summit Oxford is the place where they discovered that their parents - and their parents’ values - had been the right ones all long.

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