The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics is pleased to announce the appointment of Vince Vitale to the position of Senior Academic Tutor for the 2010/11 academic year. This is part of the ongoing strategy to strengthen the faculty of the OCCA, as well as to help foster closer ties with the university during the course’s first year of accreditation.
Vince Vitale is currently finishing a doctorate in Philosophy at the University of Oxford, having completed an Oxford MPhil in Theology. He is secretary of the Joseph Butler Society for the Philosophy of Religion and an Associate Editor of Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy. He previously taught with rank of Lecturer in the Philosophy and Religion Departments of his alma mater, Princeton University, where he committed his life to Christ.
Our vision is for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics to excel as the premier centre of its kind, one that attracts leading Christian thinkers from around the world and equips the Church to engage at every level of cultural and intellectual challenge with integrity and with success. The last 50 years have witnessed an unparalleled resurgence of Christian influence in academic philosophical theology. What is yet to occur, however, is a substantial integration of this historical turn into the witness and mission of the Church generally, and into its evangelistic and apologetic efforts in particular. The OCCA – abetted by both the leading evangelical seminary and the leading philosophy and theology faculties in Britain, a country accessible to both the East and the West – is ideally positioned to be a forerunner in meeting this need. To my mind, the scope of the OCCA – due to its historical, intellectual, and geographical location, the faithful foundation its founders have laid, and the divine blessing upon it – is tremendous. I am humbled and honoured to be part of a centre that is growing by leaps and bounds and to participate in an effort which promises to have such an impact for the Kingdom of God.
Vince Vitale – Senior Academic Tutor in Evangelism & Apologetics, OCCA
The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA) is a joint partnership between Wycliffe Hall, a permanent private hall of Oxford University, and RZIM. With a commitment to academic excellence and effective evangelism, the OCCA provides cutting-edge training for those with a passion to make Christ known. The teaching faculty comprises some of the world’s leading apologists and the students are provided with an unparalleled opportunity to be stretched, envisioned and equipped.
The courses offered are:
One Year full-time Certificate in Christian Apologetics
This course is designed for those who wish to dedicate a whole year immersing themselves in evangelism and apologetics. The emphasis of the course is upon training in practical evangelism and, as well as in-depth teaching in apologetics, students are given the opportunity to use what they have learned in real ministry settings. An integral part of the course is the close mentoring of our students to equip them according to their specific gifting.
Eight Week full-time Programme
This course is designed for those who wish to dedicate themselves to an intensive period of apologetics. It covers teaching in evangelism, apologetics, Biblical studies and workplace evangelism. Students attend both the annual Oxford Summer School and the European Leadership Forum.
One of the particular strengths of the OCCA One Year Certificate is that, in addition to the academic teaching, it provides students with the opportunity of gaining real practical experience, by being involved in various missions led by experienced evangelists. At the beginning of 2010 a number of current students were involved in various outreach events across the UK and excerpts from one student’s reports are shown below:
I did a grill a Christian in one of the Freshers’ halls and although they had a limited number of spaces (30) due to health and safety, 50 students rocked up for grilled food and then a grilling of me! So it was packed out and there was a very energetic response from people as I answered questions. The most wonderful thing happened afterwards – 8 of them stayed behind and we had a discussion group. Most of them were sceptics, or atheists. We chatted about Jesus for about an hour and his death … I said that if they’d like to find out more, we should meet again after reading an account of Jesus’ death. They were all incredibly up for this so for some reason … they are all going to read John chapters 17–20 before meeting up again on Saturday eve!
Many more people are making commitments to Christ. About 200 people have already filled out questionnaires and we’ve actually run out of a whole box of Knowing God Personally booklets, because so many people said Yes to “If you could know God personally, would you be interested?” I’d guess that around half of those people have been prayed personally for as well.
Most of the fruit we’re seeing is in the organic events – last minute tea parties, supper parties and the like. Still, the lunch bars are attracting well over 100 people (mainly non-Christians), and have a real buzz to them … It really feels like this city has been saturated in prayer …
Last night Dad and I did a grill a Christian event … 62 people came, and probably under 15 of those were Christians. There was such energy to the evening (which started at 7.30pm) that Dad and I had to split down into discussion groups of 15 each to carry on after it. I went through the Knowing God Personally booklet with all my group(!) and they were intrigued about Jesus’ death, again, like on Sunday night. I prayed with a girl from Thailand afterwards and she’s been hooked up to the link-group there now and wants to join their weekly bible study. I didn’t leave there until 11.30pm!
We have had the opportunity to share the Gospel with literally over 100 people each this week! It’s been so wonderful.
This month we ask you to pray for the OCCA:
- For the lecturers and tutors – Alister McGrath, Michael Green, Amy Orr-Ewing, Michael Ramsden, John Lennox (Adjunct Professor), Tom Price, Sharon Dirckx and Jacob Waldenmaier (Research Assistant).
- For Vince Vitale, the newly-appointed Senior Academic Tutor, who will take up his key role later this year.
- For the administrative staff – Katie Law, Alanna MacLeod and Rosie Peel (maternity cover for Katie).
- For the 18 students beginning their final term of the One-Year Programme.
- For the new students on the Eight-Week Programme (that they might be refreshed in the Lord and re-engaged with the world around them).
- For Michael, Amy, Tom, Sharon, Nick Chatrath, and Vlad Criznic (from our Romania office), as they teach at the annual European Leadership Forum (ELF) in Hungary, helping to equip emerging evangelists from throughout Europe with apologetics skills.
- For the necessary finance needed to support the work of our apologists.