NOBTS’ Oxford study program: seminary credit & historic sites
OXFORD, England (BP)--The 2006 New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Oxford study program, “Edinburgh to Oxford,” proved to be a lesson in contrasts for NOBTS students -– old and new, large and small, temporal and eternal.
Students, faculty members and friends participated in the annual summer program that combines the opportunity to study under evangelical thinkers with tours of important religious and historic sites in England and Scotland.
Oxford University, as the oldest English-speaking university in the world, holds a prominent place in both secular and Christian history and offers much in way of the old and the new. Students studied the apologetic method of C.S. Lewis and various issues in contemporary theology just blocks from the site where Protestant reformers Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer were burned at the stake in 1555 for their beliefs.
Called the “City of Dreaming Spires,” Oxford’s magnificent perpendicular architecture leads the viewer’s eye heavenward, a reminder of more than just the theological focus of the university at its founding.
“I was overwhelmed by the hugeness of God and my smallness,” NOBTS student Angie Bauman said. Even more remarkable, she said, were the reminders from history that God uses “small” people to accomplish great things.
In Olney, the group toured the museum dedicated to the life and work of hymn writers William Cowper and John Newton, who penned “Amazing Grace.” In London, the students worshiped at Metropolitan Tabernacle, where Charles Haddon Spurgeon preached to overflow crowds in the 1800s. At York, the group visited the Minster, the site of Constantine’s coronation, an event that marks the beginning of an official recognition of Christianity as a religion.
At John Wesley’s home and chapel in London, a man from Fiji served as their guide through the home and led them in prayer while standing in “the powerhouse,” Wesley’s prayer room. Drawing their attention to a bust of the first missionary into Fiji, the guide remarked, “Because he came to Fiji, I am what I am” -– a reminder that Christian history comes down to lives transformed by God.
But students found the richness of the historical setting eclipsed by the personal testimony of guest speaker Tom Tarrants, president of the C.S. Lewis Institute in Washington, D.C. A former terrorist and operative for the Ku Klux Klan, Tarrants committed his life to Christ while alone in a prison cell serving a sentence for attempted murder.
“Learning about C.S. Lewis from Tom Tarrants was inspirational,” NOBTS student Solon Smith said, “but Tom’s personal testimony was as powerful as what he taught us about Lewis.”
Peter Walker, professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University, spoke to the group on the historical Jesus and the dating of the Gospels and the Apostle Paul’s writings. Walker’s writings include “Holy City? Holy Places?” and “Jesus and the Holy City,” exploring the Christian approach to Jerusalem in the New Testament and later church periods.
To emphasize the relational context of Paul’s writings, Christian author Nick Page joined Walker in presenting a dramatic reading of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
Classes offered by NOBTS faculty through the Oxford study program allowed students to choose up to nine hours of on-campus credit. Courses included “The Historical Foundations of Christian Education” taught by Margie Williamson; “Christianity and the Sciences” and “Creation and Creationism” taught by Ken Keathley and “Christian Apologetics and Reformation and Modern Theology: British Theologians” taught by Robert Stewart.
For updates on the NOBTS Oxford study program, visit the website: www.nobts.edu.