SUMMA Student Theological Debate Society is a banner program of the Beecken Center of the School of Theology at the University of the South. It was founded in the confidence that knowledge and reason are foundational to faith. In SUMMA, debate is taught because debating leads to clearer and more careful thinking, and clearer thinking opens pathways deeper into faith, hope, and love. Learning how to question claims, ask for evidence, and examine warrants frees students from the grip of fashionable thinking.
On the first day of camp, a resolution is introduced, which is the focus of debate during the week. Some of the propositions debated by SUMMA participants in the past include:
- Resolved: “Christians, Muslims, and Jews all worship the same God.”
- Resolved: “Euthanasia is morally justified.”
- Resolved: “Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God.” (The Book of Common Prayer)
- Resolved: “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus: outside the church, there is no salvation.”
- Resolved: “Complete separation between the state and religion is best for the state and best for religion.” (Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter)
- Resolved: “Capital punishment is morally justified.”
As a program of the University of the South (owned by 28 dioceses of the Episcopal Church), SUMMA is grounded in the Anglican tradition. Its approach, however, is ecumenical and open to students of any faith who would like to better understand and articulate the Christian faith.