Light or Darkness? You choose (University of Oxford, Oxfordshire England)

Friday June 1, 2018

If you are dreaming to obtain a postgraduate degree or are simply a fan of Hollywood’s blockbuster fiction movies, the best place to go is to the place where “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia” begun. In the University of Oxford. It is a massive place steeped in history, adventure, learning and architecture. One article will not give justice to convince anyone that this is one place to include in a bucket list. I went there with beaming excitement.

The University of Oxford

The University of Oxford rose to prominence in the 1220’s. The university has no known founding date. Teaching existed in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from going to the University of Paris. The early history of Oxford as it was known was based upon the importance of Theology and the Liberal Arts it also gave more serious attention to the study of Physical Science than the University of Paris. In the 13th century the strength of the University’s academe was in the field of Theology. The grandest of most medieval buildings at that time were church buildings. There was Eucharist or communion and mass every day to honour the Son of God. That is why when I came to visit the church building’s imposing presence was to be seen everywhere. Oxford was a centre for intellectual debates, with scholars involved in religious and political disputes. “The Lord is My Light” is on the Oxford University coat of arms. One of the most learned theologians alive, Doctor Robert Tillman, (D. Phil. Oxford University 1977) tweeted, “Oxford University was born when there was a sense of the fear of God in the land, hence their foundation being Psalm 27:1”.

Great Men of the University of Oxford

There are so many great men that the University of Oxford produced who helped shape the world. I walked in the place these great men walked, the places I saw in the movies gave me a good feeling that made me exclaim: “ God is good!” Let me just mention of two graduates we know about who touched our lives then and now namely, John Wycliffe and CS Lewis.

In the 14th century, John Wycliffe inspired a movement against the Roman Catholic Church and translated the Bible from Vulgate to English so that ordinary people can read it aside from priests, bishops, cardinals and the Pope. He paved the way so that you and I can read the bible whenever and wherever we want to. His journey was long and rough, he was known as the “Morning Star of Reformation” that inspired William Tyndale and Martin Luther. From the beginning to the end of his life, the Lord was his light.

Then there is Clive Staples Lewis, or, CS Lewis. He is one of my favourite alumni from Oxford University. I have a collection of his books. He was born in November 29, 1898. His father was a lawyer, his mother was a mathematician and his grandfather a preacher. He was an atheist who converted to Christianity by the help of devout Roman Catholic, J.R.R. Tolkien (John Ronald Reuel Tolkien), the author of Lord of the Rings. CS Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien and their friends formed a group of Oxford scholars called “The Inklings”. In the 1930’s the Age of Modernism was popular. The Inklings resisted this movement. C.S. Lewis became the front runner apologist of Christian faith. During World War II, the faith of people in God dwindled. The religious director of BBC requested CS Lewis to talk about faith in a way ordinary people would understand. It became a success that during that time the second most popular voice known all over the nation next to Winston Churchill was the voice of CS Lewis. The collection of this broadcast from 1941-1944 was put into print in a book called “Mere Christianity”.

The Lord is My Light

The lives of John Wycliffe and CS Lewis are living legacy in that they lived their life and maintained “The Lord is My Life”. However, when I came here I noticed that most people do not know and believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Oxford University’s coat of arms seemed not to apply even to its graduates anymore. And I wondered why.

From the time of John Wycliffe down to CS Lewis people had holy fear in God, but after that most people feared man more than God. After World War II there were drastic changes in all aspects in Great Britain. It was the time of rebuilding. However, the social and moral values had shifted too. The population had become more individualistic and less respectful. Major changes in law occurred such as legalization of abortion and homosexuality, abolition of capital punishment, extension of legal aid systems that increased the divorce rate and led to the birth of a Welfare State. It is a far, wide and deep topic but it is necessary to have a glimpse as to what happened. In short, people relied more on their prosperous government and they didn’t find the need of God. Continuous disregard of the Bible as the word of God is blatant and even passed as a law that rippled across the world. And some of those who still believe in the Bible diverted from the message and omitted the teaching about Hell because for those who do not believe, Hell is a very offensive topic. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. His brightness and glory does not depend on people nor institutions. Whether people believe Him or not, He remained the Son of God and Saviour of those who believe in Him. He taught about Hell not because He is angry but because that is reality. Jesus is offering love and redemption not punishment nor condemnation. The world rejected His teachings and lived by their own devices. But the result is very clear, I don’t have to write it down, just read the newspaper every day. My gratitude to Oxford University for having the likes of John Wycliffe and CS Lewis and his friends when everything around seems unbearable. We have the Bible and good movies and books to spend our time on. The world is in darkness since the fall, it will not brighten up by simply sitting and reading the Bible and the Chronicles of Narnia. It will brighten up if we share the light based on His living Word and the love of Jesus Christ in action by the power of the Holy Spirit. King David wrote Psalms 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (KJV). Enrolment is now going on. Whose side, are you on?

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