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Summit Ministries

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Summit Ministries[edit]

Summit Ministries, founded in 1962, is a nondenominational ministry headquartered in Manitou Springs, Colo., that shares Christian school curricula and primarily offers two- and 12-week programs for people ages 16 to 21.....[1]

In the programs, held at the Colorado campus and at Christian universities in such states as California, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, Christian scholars teach students to defend their faith in what the organization believes to be a culture and educational system hostile to biblical worldview.[2]

Founding and history[edit]

Summit Ministries was founded by David A. Noebel (born August 27, 1936), an American religious leader and writer. Since the 1960s, he has written widely on the relationship between religion and popular culture, and is an outspoken critic of secular humanism, which he describes as unscientific and a religion.[3] Under Noebel, Summit viewed its role as a catalyst to enable youth to stand strong in their faith and defend truth, while having a positive influence on the society in which they live. That mission has continued[4] under its current president, Jeff Myers, who assumed leadership of the organization upon Noebel’s retirement in 2011. [5]

Myers completed his dissertation for the Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Denver in 1997 and accepted a faculty appointment at Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn. [6] He taught there 14 years while also leading Summit’s Tennessee conferences each summer before taking the role at Summit. Myers rewrote Noebel’s worldview text Understanding the Times, making extensive edits to make the book, in his words, more relevant to modern families. [7]. He then produced a prequel and sequel entitled Understanding the Faith and Understanding the Culture.

Conference model and worldview instruction Summit refers to its two-week training sessions for high school students as conferences. The organization also offers semester-long summer training for college students, a weekend course for adults and an online archive of lectures by faculty.[8]

Topics covered during the session include marriage and family, economics, bioethics, evil and suffering, leadership, apologetics, homosexuality, God’s existence, college prep, church, doubting one’s faith, biblical foundations, technology and pornography.[9] Many of the texts and study guides used are produced by Summit, including such titles as Understanding the Faith, Understanding the Culture and Understanding the Times, which compares Christian worldview to what it defines as the five major competing beliefs of the day: Islam, Secular Humanism, Marxism, New Age, and Postmodernism.[10]

During an appearance on Fox News Live in 2012, Myers said the instruction is critical because 91 percent of people say they believe there is not absolute truth – and Summit stresses that “absolute truth really does exist and it does transcend time and it does transcend culture.” [11]

2017 Christian Worldview Study[edit]

In May 2017, Summit released a study conducted in collaboration with the faith-based research firm The Barna Group examining the worldviews of self-identified practicing Christians. The results found that 17 percent of those surveyed held what Barna considers a “Christian worldview.”[12]. Barna provides these markers in defining such a worldview: “believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.” [13]

The study also found that significant numbers of those polled adhered to key beliefs of other worldviews: 61 percent agreed with ideas rooted in New Spirituality, 54 percent resonated with postmodernist views, 36 percent accept ideas associated with Marxism and 29 percent believe ideas based on secularism.[14].Commenting on the findings, Myers said they indicated "the chickens have come home to roost,” underscoring the importance in his mind of Summit’s biblical worldview education efforts. "It's not just that they don't have a biblical worldview; it's that they've picked up other world views from the culture around them." [15]

2018 Cancellation of California conference and subsequent controversy[edit]

In May 2018, months before its planned conference at Biola University in Los Angeles, Summit announced it was cancelling the event over concerns pertaining to AB 2943, a bill in the California Legislature to ban gay conversion therapy, as well as advertising for such commercial services, deeming it a deceptive business practice under consumer protection laws. [16]. The bill cited numerous health associations’ findings that conversion therapy poses health risks for lesbians, gays and bisexuals. Additionally, its authors argued, no rigorous scientific research substantiates claims that sexual orientation can be changed.

Summit, while not directly offering gay conversion therapy at its conferences, said it was concerned that what it described as the vagueness of the proposed law could lead to lawsuits that would threaten its staff and the ministry’s long-term viability because it features speakers who advocate for traditional marriage and a biblical view of sexuality. At times, it was argued, students ask questions or express confusion over sexuality and traditional marriages. AB 2943 would prohibit those conversations, rendering some sessions impossible to hold, Summit aalleged.[17].“Our speakers are leading Christian experts who base their presentations on theology, as well as sociology, psychology and science,” Myers said. “But the wording of AB 2943 is a dog whistle to the left that intelligent Christians holding traditional views are fair game for discrimination, smears and frivolous lawsuits.” [18]

The decision to cancel was criticized in the gay community: some gay activists made the case that no part of California AB 2943 bans biblical views on sexuality [19] and at least one critic dismissed the reasons for the cancellation as "self-manufactured victimization,"[20] a charge also leveled at Christian groups that suggested the bill, if it becomes law, could criminalize sales of the Bible. [21]. Summit also was criticized by other Christians, who argued the group was backing down from a fight. [22].20

Summit countered it would continue to fight the passage of the bill behind the scenes, but would not “put kids on the firing line,” saying both its students and some staff are under 18. [23].21

  1. Barna, Mark. "Summit Ministries' founder retiring after nearly 50 years" The Gazette, 18 September 2011.
  2. Lane, Anthony. "Stairway to heaven: Summit Ministries spreads the word and some worry in Manitou" Colorado Springs Independent, 27 March 2008.
  3. Phan, Catherine T. "Secular Humanism as Religious as Christianity, Argues Scholar" The Christian Post, 19 November 2010.
  4. "Summit Ministries: About" Summit Ministries website, Retrieved 24 August 2018.<nowiki>
  5. </nowiki>Kumar, Anugragh. [1] “Summit Ministries’ Founder David Noebel to Retire,”] The Christian Post, 19 September 2011.
  6. [2] Colorado Christian University website, Retrieved 22 August, 2018.
  7. Smith, Warren Cole. "Jeff Myers on understanding the times " WORLD Magazine, 11 August 2015.
  8. "Conferences" Summit Ministries webite, Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  9. "Conferences" Summit Ministries webite, Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  10. Jeff Myers; David A. Noebel (1 September 2015). Understanding the Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews. David C. Cook. ISBN 978-0-7814-1378-7. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  11. Green, Lauren. "What happened to morals?” Fox News Live, 20 April 2012.
  12. Wallace, J. Warner. "Like Chrissy Teigen, most Christians are 'not good with the Bible' ” FoxNews.com, 3 April 2017.
  13. "Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians” Barna.com, 9 May 2017.
  14. Showalter, Brandon. "Survey: 61 Percent of Practicing Christians Agree With Some 'New Spirituality' Beliefs” ChristianPost.com, 10 May 2017.
  15. Jordahl, Steve. "What are believers believing exactly?” OneNewsNow.com, 17 May 2017.
  16. Pritchett, Bonnie. "California bill already chilling religious expression” WORLD Magazine, 8 May 2018.
  17. Worthington, Danika. "Conservative Colorado ministry cancels California conventions over state bill that would ban gay conversion therapy” The Denver Post, 2 May 2018.
  18. Fahringer, Aubree. " Christian teen conference canceled due to ‘chilling of free speech’ in California State Assembly” Washington Examiner, 2 May 2018.
  19. Staff reports. "Anti-gay Colo. group cancels Calif. conference” Washington Blade, 4 May 2018.
  20. [3] SlowlyBoiledFrog.com, 2 May 2018.
  21. Greenberg, John. [ https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/apr/26/oath-keepers/no-california-bill-would-not-ban-bible-sales/ "No, California bill would not ban Bible sales”] Politifact.com, 26 April 2018. Retrieved 22 August, 2018
  22. Voshell, Fay. " Christians' Munich Moment in California” AmericanThinker.com, 3 May 2018.
  23. Hamilton, Abe. [4] The Hamilton Corner, Retrieved 27 August 2018.


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