RZIM EUROPEâ€™S MAGAZINE
ISSUE 15 | AUTUMN 2013
\\ RE ACHING AND EQUIPPING OUR YOUTH:
Putting more apologists on the map Science and the mission of the mind Apologetics: where do I start?
God and disappointment
(see page 3 for fur the r details)
HELPING THE THINKER BELIEVE AND THE BELIEVER THINK RZIM Europe is an evangelistic organisation that seeks to engage hearts and minds for Christ.
our team includes: RAVI ZACHARIAS MICHAEL RAMSDEN
PRESIDENT OF RZIM AND SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW AT WYCLIFFE HALL
EUROPEAN DIRECTOR OF RZIM AND DIRECTOR OF THE OCCA
UK DIRECTOR OF RZIM AND CURRICULUM DIRECTOR OF THE OCCA
ADJUNCT PROFESSOR AT THE OCCA
SENIOR FELLOW AT THE OCCA
SENIOR TUTOR, OCCA AND RZIM ITINERANT SPEAKER
TUTOR, OCCA AND RZIM ITINERANT SPEAKER
TUTOR, OCCA AND RZIM ITINERANT SPEAKER
TUTOR , OCCA
TUTOR , OCCA
RZIM ITINERANT SPEAKER
RZIM ITINERANT SPEAKER
RZIM ITINERANT SPEAKER
DIRECTOR OF RZIM ROMANIA
MAHLATSE WINSTON MASHUA
DIRECTOR OF RZIM SPAIN
DIRECTOR OF RZIM SOUTH AFRICA
PRESIDENT OF THE OCCA
CHRISTIAN HOFREITER DIRECTOR OF RZIM GERMANY, AUSTRIA AND SWITZERLAND
PRINTER | VERITÉ CM LTD DESIGN AND ILLUSTRATION | KAREN SAWREY RZIM Europe is the working name of RZIM Zacharias Trust, a charitable company founded in 1997 that is limited by guarantee and registered in England. Company No. 3449676. Charity No. 1067314
The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA) is a partnership between RZIM and Wycliffe Hall, a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford.
RZIM Europe, 76 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6JT
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
T: +44 (0)1865 302900
PHOTOGRAPHY | JOHN CAIRNS. FRONT COVER PHOTO & PAGES 11-15 FREDDIE REED WWW.FREDDIEREED.COM STOCK IMAGES | Shutterstock.com (pages 4-6, 8-10 & 23), iStockphoto (pages 16 & 24).
F: +44 (0)1865 318451
WELCOME TO THE FIFTEENTH EDITION OF
pulse magazine IN THIS ISSUE: PUTTING MORE APOLOGISTS ON THE MAP RZIM is pleased to announce the appointment of new indigenous apologists in Spain, Austria and South Africa. Find out more about them on pages 4-7.
APOLOGETICS: WHERE DO I START? We receive a lot of enquiries asking how people can begin to learn more about apologetics. On pages 8-10, we list some of the best resources available for those wanting answers and approaches to a range of different questions.
THE OXFORD CENTRE FOR CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS The new academic year has recently begun and you can read more about the latest cohort of students at the OCCA on pages 18-20.
REACHING AND EQUIPPING OUR YOUTH: REBOOT 2013 Teenagers are the most likely age group to turn away from their faith, which is why RZIM recently held its first youth apologetics day in London (‘Reboot’). On pages 11-15, Martin Smith, who attended the event, reports on how the day went.
to plan. On page 23, Ravi Zacharias shares how an experience of profound disappointment subsequently led to an appreciation that God is the ‘Grand Weaver’ of our lives.
SCIENCE AND RELIGION If you believe the new atheists, science and religion are in opposition to one another, as the former supposedly relies on rationality and evidence, whilst the latter supposedly relies on faith and superstition. In her article on ‘science and the mission of the mind’ (pages 16-17), Sharon Dirckx challenges this suggestion, arguing instead that scientific and religious explanations complement each other well. Part of our mandate is to train Christians to communicate the gospel more effectively. We are pleased, therefore, to enclose a free DVD of our most recent Oxford training day, entitled ‘Confidence in the truth’. The resource has been designed for use in churches and small groups. If your place of worship or anyone involved with ministry would be interested in receiving more copies then please contact our Oxford office. If you find the talks useful, then why not attend our next training day in January (see back cover for details)?
GOD AND DISAPPOINTMENT We all have hopes and dreams for our lives, but things don’t always go
CONTENTS PUTTING MORE APOLOGISTS ON THE MAP
APOLOGETICS: WHERE DO I START? REACHING AND EQUIPPING OUR YOUTH: REBOOT 2013 SCIENCE AND THE MISSION OF THE MIND OCCA EVENTS
16-17 18-20 21
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
GOD AND DISAPPOINTMENT
Simon Wenham RESEARCH CO-ORDINATOR
AUTUMN AUTUMN 2013 2013 | PULSE | PULSE ISSUE ISSUE 1515
PUTTING MORE APOLOGISTS ON THE MAP We are pleased to announce the appointment of three new indigenous apologists who we believe will make a major impact for Christ in their respective countries. This is an exciting development, not only because RZIM is expanding into new areas, but because it involves reaching more of the non-English speaking world.
nations), Spain and South Africa, which takes the number of countries operating under our regional â€˜umbrellaâ€™ to seven (the others being in the UK, Romania, Turkey and Egypt).
The apologists will be based in Austria (covering the German-speaking
We caught up with two of the new team members to find out
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
more about them.
(The third, Christian Hofreiter, was featured in the spring 2013 edition of Pulse)
SPAIN ANDY WICKHAM
Welcome to the team! Could you tell us a little about your own background? Despite my misleading British surname, my first language is Spanish. My British grandparents came to Spain as evangelical missionaries years ago, my father fell in love with a beautiful Spanish lady in Madrid, and the rest is history. I came to know Jesus at a young age in a powerful way that made me experience life for the very first time. However, it wasn't until I was 17, when I started attending a new church, that I learned to share my faith in a meaningful, intentional way. From then on, I knew my passion, gifting and calling was to introduce others to Jesus. After undergraduate studies in Madrid, I married Elizabeth, and moved on to study Theology at Schloss Mittersill (Austria), earning an MTh in Old Testament Theology through UNISA. Once again, God opened the doors for our next stop, which was a year at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, and he gave us a burden for working with university students in Spain. We returned to Spain and joined Grupos Bíblicos Universitarios (GBU), the local movement of International
Fellowship of Evangelical Students, settling in Granada. Five years with GBU opened many doors across the country to disciple university students, debate sceptics, guide evangelistic initiatives, address audiences on faith and apologetics, and to train Christians to engage with sceptics. Ten years after leaving Madrid as newlyweds, we’ve moved back as a family of five and are thrilled and challenged to be starting RZIM in Spain.
What are your plans and hopes for the ministry? To date, there are excellent organizations in Spain focusing on evangelism, but none focusing exclusively on the public proclamation of the gospel and apologetics. In that sense, RZIM is breaking ground in Spain as I (with support from the wider team) aspire to: • proclaim the gospel regularly in a wide variety of contexts and see people come to Christ; • influence the culture-shaping areas of Spanish society including, but not limited to, those in academia, business, politics, media and the arts;
• connect with other Spanish evangelists and groups in proclaiming the gospel; • supply resources in Spanish for Christians and sceptics alike, especially in the format of translated RZIM resources, short apologetic videos and the broadcast of ‘Let My People Think’ (Pensemos) in Castilian Spanish; • represent the gospel credibly and relevantly to the secular audience and serve as a reference point in apologetics for the Spanish Church; • equip and encourage Christians to be persuasive with the gospel in their own context and to get out into the world. Within the Church, I have a special burden for the training of university students.
How can we pray for you? Please do join us in prayer as we set up the ministry in Spain and make it available. Please pray that God will orchestrate the connections to support our work on all levels. Pray for Proclama, the new course I’ve started jointly with GBU to train university evangelists – that God would use it raise up young evangelists to preach the gospel at their universities. Pray for the right doors to open and the right invitations to come, and that I would actively seek God’s opportunities to proclaim the gospel, both privately and publicly.
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
SOUTH AFRICA MAHLATSE WINSTON MASHUA
Welcome to the team! Could you tell us a little about your background? I am from a town called Bushbuckridge in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. I grew up in a home where we practiced Ancestralism, the belief that our ancestors have the ability to influence our daily lives positively or negatively. Growing up in that environment meant that we experienced a lot of supernatural phenomena. I deeply depended, loved, and trusted in this way of life until I fell sick at the age of seven and was told that the ancestors were calling me to become a sangoma (a mediator between humans and the ancestors). God miraculously healed me when an evangelist came preaching in my village and he explained that it was the power of Jesus that had done it. This led me on a quest to find out more about the God who had this power and, after reading the Bible (aged 11), I renounced Ancestralism and put my faith in Jesus Christ. I should also mention my beautiful and amazing wife, Lusanda, who is generally awesome at everything pertaining to life and godliness. Her accolades are too many for this article’s word count – and behold, she is with child!
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
What are your plans and hopes for the ministry? Africa has been described as the ‘dark continent’ and it is now being haunted by a new darkness. Though she still suffers the scourge of pandemic disease, crippling illiteracy and extreme poverty, the rising of a new dawn for a number of developing countries has been accompanied by some deadening allies. As education and foreign aid has poured into Africa, a new type of African has grown from our red soil. This person has a religious background (from Christianity and other indigenous African beliefs), yet is rapidly drawn into the demands of urban life, where liberalism within the academic and professional world forces him/her into a pragmatic corner of living out an unnamed and inconsistent philosophy. These ‘African Diamonds’ are released from campuses into the corporate world and some of them will rise to highly influential positions where they will be able to make nation-shaping decisions. Yet what Africa needs now are born-again men and women who are skilled at functioning existentially in the role that natural diamonds play, i.e. assisting the eye to see the true beauty of God’s light at the different angles of society, as well as being hard enough to drill through the toughest lies that continue to hide the worship of Jesus in the nations.
When we look at the problems that Africa faces, we understand them as questions being asked by a continent that requires answers for the hope that is only found in Jesus Christ. Idolatry causes people to question whether Jesus Christ or Ancestralism is better. The over-evangelized Africa wants to know whether the way of Jesus is true as a presupposition only, or if it is also true existentially – ‘If my son is cursed by ancestors, can God heal him?’ The influence of those with political power has led people to question whether selfishness is better than selflessness. The problem of HIV/ AIDS has caused people to wonder whether Christian morality is really practical in the face of hormonal cravings and desires. The problem of poverty has led people to question whether the cause of starvation and disease is really down to a lack of resources or whether it is caused by bad distribution. These problems (and others) are not separate, but they are interlinked, as is their answer, which is the hope in Jesus Christ.
The process of answering these questions lies in the merger of apologetics, discipleship and social justice. Apologetics is the most important part of the discipleship process, because we will fail in our attempt to teach people how to follow and obey Jesus Christ (discipleship), if they are not given an adequate reason for it (apologetics).
Moreover, the greatest apologetic for the power, comfort and presence of God in South Africa is participating in initiatives to mend the social ills that exist in our society. This is why the work of Wellspring International, the humanitarian arm of RZIM, is so important. * Many doors have already been opened by the mission trips of RZIM team members and we aim to keep the momentum going. We also hope to strengthen the Church by
continuing to build up and support those with a similar passion.
How can we pray for you? Could you pray for: • a strong network of relationships across the body of Christ, so that we can find the right people to serve, resource and work with, in the hope of raising up evangelists in our country.
• us to move at a God-led pace, for grace to follow God’s favour, and for His cautions as we move forward. • our nation, which is in a state of emergency (spiritually, socially and politically). It needs a church with a united front. We need God’s hand to move in the hearts of church leaders to see our ministry as a gathering place to be resourced and inspired to courageously defend the gospel in unity and with clarity.
* For more information about Wellspring International see www.wellspringinternational.org.
CAN YOU HELP? Do you share a particular passion for evangelism in one of the countries we operate in? If so, please contact us, as we need your help in supporting the apologists, as they each face different challenges.
Would you be willing to:
pray for the apologists, their ministry and the countries in which they operate? We would be happy to keep you posted about their on-going work.
partner with us in providing financial support for one of the
INTRODUCING SIMON EDWARDS We are also pleased to announce the addition of Simon Edwards to the UK team, who will be covering Tanya Walker’s maternity leave. Simon Edwards holds qualifications in law, economics, and education from the University of Queensland and in theology from Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University. He is also a graduate of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (2011/12). Simon brings
team? Appointing speakers in three new countries simultaneously has increased our running costs considerably, and each one of them requires donors who are willing to come alongside them to support and sustain their work, as well as to help grow their ministries and increase their impact.
with him a diverse experience of Christian ministry, government, legal and teaching experience. He practiced law in Australia for a number of years, both in private practice and in government. He also taught religious education for two years in a secondary school in England. Together with his wife, Natasha, he is part of the team at Latimer Minster – a missional church-plant run by Frog and Amy Orr-Ewing that is situated between London and Oxford. Simon speaks regularly at outreach and evangelistic events, and in schools and universities across the country. He is currently enjoying being a new Dad to his baby daughter Grace
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
APOLOGETICS: WHERE DO I START? BY SIMON W EN HA M
Many people are daunted by the prospect of learning about â€˜apologeticsâ€™, as the word makes it sound like it is some kind of academic discipline that is only suitable for intellectuals. This is not the case at all, as anyone who explains why they believe what they do is doing apologetics, even if it is simply speaking to someone on a one-to-one basis. Yet it is only natural to want to learn more about how to defend AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
what we believe, because when we communicate with others we are often confronted by objections or difficult questions. Fortunately there are a huge range of resources that can help so we have listed some of the best in this article. *
* These have been chosen because they cover a broad range of apologetics topics (at a popular level), although not everything that is written in them reflects the views of RZIM.
WEBSITES www.rzim.org There are thousands of websites dedicated to apologetics, so it is difficult to know what to trust. The main website of RZIM is a good place to start as it is a hub for a wide variety of material from our ministry, ranging from talks and radio addresses, to articles and short devotional messages. There’s also a free app for smartphones, simply called ‘RZIM’.
See also: www.bethinking.org (one of the leading British apologetics websites) www.johnlennox.org (resources produced by John Lennox) www.reasonablefaith.org (the website of William Lane Craig) www.veritas.org (a range of apologetics talks from university events) www.apologetics315.com (a hub for apologetics material from around the world) www.premierradio.org.uk/shows/ saturday/unbelievable.aspx (a collection of online debates on a range of topics) http://sptc.htb.org.uk/godpod (short discussions on topical issues affecting us today)
Dawkins’ God by Alister McGrath (a Christian response to the evolutionary biology of Richard Dawkins) The Missing Link by Roy Varghese (an examination of evolutionary thought and the emergence of consciousness)
Who Made God? by Edgar Andrews The new atheists would have us believe that science inevitably leads to atheism. This book explores the contemporary debate and shows that nothing could be further from the truth.
See also: God’s Undertaker by John Lennox (an examination of the history of science and the debate surrounding information and DNA)
THE BIBLE Why Trust the Bible? by Amy Orr-Ewing
DEFENDING THE FAITH Mere Apologetics by Alister McGrath How can we help to bring seekers and sceptics to faith? Alister McGrath provides practical advice for those wanting to communicate more effectively to others, which includes a discussion on topics that can help point people towards God.
See also: On Guard by William Lane Craig (a practical guidebook for defending the faith) Tactics by Greg Koukl (advice on how we should structure our conversations in order to have maximum impact) Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis (Lewis’ famous defence of Christianity)
‘Isn’t the Bible sexist?’, ‘Are the original manuscripts reliable?’ and ‘What about other holy books?’ These are three of the topics addressed in a book that provides answers for ten of the most common questions about the Bible.
See also: The Big Book of Bible Difficulties by Norman Geisler (a systematic examination of all of the difficult passages in scripture) The Case for the Resurrection by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona (a guide to the arguments for the resurrection of Jesus) The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable? by F. F. Bruce (a classic work about the documents of the New Testament – available free online)
SUFFERING Why? Looking at God, Evil and Personal Suffering by Sharon Dirckx
www.closertotruth.com (a large collection of science and religion talks from theists and atheists alike)
RZIM team members looking at the major apologetics challenges today)
Who Made God? by Ravi Zacharias (ed.) ‘Does the Bible have errors in it?’, ‘Who made God?’ and ‘Are science and Christianity allies or adversaries?’ These are just three of the topics covered by a number of contributors who provide quick answers to 100 frequently asked questions about faith.
See also: The Reason for God by Tim Keller (an overview of how to respond to the main areas of debate) I’d Like to Believe, But… by Michael Green (a book aimed at answering common objections to the faith) Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias (ed.) (a work that contains chapters by different
If God is so loving why is there so much suffering in the world? Sharon Dirckx tackles one of the hardest questions that Christians face from both a theoretical and a personal perspective (drawing from the testimonies of those who have experienced great suffering).
See also: Unspeakable? by Os Guinness (a response to the problem of evil and suffering in the world around us) The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias (a reflection on God’s healing work amongst the marginalised) Cries of the Heart by Ravi Zacharias (a book examining the inner turmoil that many people feel and how they should respond to it)
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
IS RELIGION DANGEROUS? Gunning for God by John Lennox
The new atheists have been an incredible successful cultural force in the west, as is shown by the many followers who now parrot their ideas. This book, informed by the author’s own experience in debates, provides a Christian response to the central claims that are made against belief in God.
Is Religion Dangerous? by Keith Ward The new atheists argue that religion is bad for the world, as can be seen by all of the violence it causes across the globe. This book provides a robust response to this claim, from both a Christian and a philosophical perspective.
See also: See also: The Dawkins Delusion? by Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt-McGrath (a response to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion) Can Man Live Without God? by Ravi Zacharias (a case for why people should believe in God) The Dawkins Letters by David Robertson (a short book on the dialogue between atheists and Christians)
Atheist Delusions by David Bentley Hart (a response to the suggestion that history shows that religion is dangerous) Christian Ethics by John Stott (a book exploring what Christian ethics should look like in today’s world)
OTHER RELIGIONS / SPIRITUALITY To Everyone an Answer by Francis Beckwith Everyone interprets life around them according to a set of foundational ideas and assumptions that make up what is known as a ‘worldview’. In this book a number of well-known thinkers explain how they defend the Christian worldview.
Why Jesus? by Ravi Zacharias It is very fashionable to reject ‘organised religion’ in favour of some form of ‘spirituality’. This book exposes the flaws in the new age thinking espoused by a number of popular celebrities, and shows why their mass-marketed message doesn’t come close to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
See also: See also: Why There is Almost Certainly a God by Keith Ward (a response to Richard Dawkins’ suggestion that there is almost certainly no God) The Case for God by Paul S. Williams (an overview of the arguments for God’s existence) The God Question by J. P. Moreland (an invitation to examine the case for God and then to come to know him)
There are a range of options for those who want to be taught apologetics. The RZIM team speaks at many events in the UK (and around the world), whilst we also run a variety of training events, ranging from day conferences and week-long residential courses, to formal extended training through the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. The forthcoming events are shown on page 21, whilst information about the OCCA can be found on pages 18-20.
Is God a Moral Monster? by Paul Copan (an examination of morality in light of God’s teaching and activities recorded in the Bible)
But Don’t All Religions Lead to God? by Michael Green (a short book debunking the idea that religions are essentially the same) Reaching Muslims by Nick Chatrath (a guide to Islam for those wanting to engage with Muslims) Moral Believing Animals by Christian Smith (a sociological study looking at the role that belief plays in everyone’s lives).
Finally, it needs to be stressed that you can accumulate all the knowledge in the world, but it won’t help you much if you are unable to apply it in practice when communicating with others. This is why engaging with non-believers is so important, as you will see which points are helpful or effective, and also where you need to refine your thinking. The way in which you answer questions is also extremely important. You might be able to give a ‘textbook’ response to someone’s question, but if you do it in such a way that you appear condescending, for example, or overly combative, you are unlikely to win them over to your cause. This is why asking questions is such a useful tool in dialogue, as it is usually far more effective than telling people why they are wrong and why you are right (for more information about this see the articles in the previous edition of Pulse). Lastly, it should be stressed that it is important to have a close relationship with God, as everyone is a living advert for what they believe in. You are unlikely to be an effective witness, if you have not been profoundly impacted by the gospel message yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but it is important to pray into all situations and to rely heavily on God, as he can use all of us in our own situations. In fact, no matter how well trained (or otherwise!) you are, if you are willing and open to sharing the gospel message with others, you will probably be very surprised by how much God can achieve through you. Yet you’ll never know unless you’re willing to give it a try!
Simon Wenham RESEARCH COORDINATOR
YOUR SUGGESTIONS: Have you read a great apologetics book recently that you think should have been on the above list? If so, then please let us know! We have regular contact with many different people and it is always useful to know about particularly good resources, so that we can tell others about them.
WINTER 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
D N A G : N H I T H U C O A Y E R U \\ R O G N I PP I U EQ
n 't eve n d i "I d what know ogetics apol nt. It ly mea ded real soun but it dull brilliant" was
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
"We went with our youth group. We had fun and all learnt some good stuff "
f ads o d o l t x "I t tions an as ques f mine w o one ered!!!" answ
"I thought there were some questions that we simply could nott answer but I learnnt today there we actually can"
WINTER 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
‘You should only bother with Christianity if it’s true.’ This was the central, take-home, strippedback message of Amy Orr-Ewing’s REBOOT 2013 opening address.
We welcomed over three hundred 12 to 18 year olds through the doors of St Jude’s Church, London that rainy, mid-September Saturday for our first ever youth apologetics training day. Of course, some of them will have attended at the behest of parents or youth leaders rather than from a yearning for truth, but if any were wholly disengaged, they were hard to spot.
Why did it click? It wasn’t a foreign idea. It wasn’t that some facile relativism or indifference to truth, incubated in breezy teenage minds had now been punctured by Amy’s sober ‘adult’ stance. It was simply the familiarity of it that gave it power. She had just articulated, legitimised and freed the implicit rationale behind everyone’s motive for coming. ‘Yes, Christianity only matters if it’s true. But I have questions, my friends have questions. Can I trust this is real?’ A concern for truth isn’t suddenly switched on, unannounced, in Freshers’ week of university.
YES, IT IS PROPER AND RIGHT THAT YOU HAVE QUESTIONS, AND WE WANT TO HEAR THEM!
The sixth formers, carried with them a serious air, partly in the interest of keeping up an adult appearance against the back-drop of their juniors, and partly because their questions were acquiring traction against late-teen life. Some were studying Philosophy at ‘A’ level and had to defend their views with greater academic acumen. Christian sexual ethics now had more tangible demands and put their popularity with peers at stake. The youngest there were barely a decade through life and were transitioning from the infancy behind them to the adulthood ahead. One minute arms were raised for Q & A, eager to unload a ‘stumper’ about suffering, the next minute, they were lowered with clawing hands into bowls of Haribo (we gave out a lot of sweets that day – donuts and pizza too). At this
life-stage a spread of six years spans a wide chasm of personal, psychosocial development, but whether you are pre- or post-GCSEs, the same basic issues are nagging. ‘Can you believe the Bible alongside science?’ ‘How can a loving God send people to hell?’ ‘What about other religions?’ We wanted to give a lot of time for people to voice their questions – we didn’t want to talk at them for four sessions. Concerns over attentionspans aside, you just have to make room for what there’s genuine hunger for. After Amy’s talk had given them the all-clear (‘Yes, it is proper and right that you have questions, and we want to hear them!’) Michael Ramsden’s ‘nuts and bolts’ workshop on how to answer questions was lapped up.
Dividing the room into groups, Michael collected the toughest questions each collective could summon and began unpacking ways and approaches to respond to them. Drawing attention to Jesus’s own adroit dealings with questions and conversational dilemmas, Michael flagged up the importance of returning kind for kind. Not referring, of course, to an eye for an eye, but a question for a question.
Anti-Christian slogans and barbs basically get a free pass in the grounds of schools these days, harmonious as they are with the default hum of consensus sensibility. It’s a threatening environment. One teen texted in to say that all of his school friends were atheists and he had never talked to them about Jesus. He admitted to being too scared and asked ‘What do I do?’ A similar evangelistic insecurity ran through several pleas for advice. These young people weren’t just out for information, but they were seeking some shred of Christian confidence. AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
IT WAS SUCH A JOY TO SEE THEM LIGHT UP WHEN THEY FOUND OUT THAT THERE REALLY ARE GOOD ANSWERS… They longed to hold out their faith with their heads held high. Michael reassured those present that they didn’t have to be embarrassed when questions were directed at them. He encouraged them to ask their friends why they believe what they do and to have a conversation about that. You can even learn to flip a tricky situation on its head. Questions like, ‘How can you Christians believe something when there’s no scientific proof?’ can invite powerful replies rather than sheepish silence. If someone says they think it’s only rational to believe something when there is scientific proof, for example, then ask them where the scientific proof for that principle is. A question for a question – no more free passes! As the session ended, you could tell that these teens were going to return to school with a greater confidence in their Christianity. It was also Michael’s ability to amuse, as well as enthuse that abated the audience’s anxieties and his quips about archangels and what day-trip destinations await in the afterlife (don’t ask!) were talking points throughout the day. Humour is an under-appreciated virtue of the apologist and it was very much at home amongst this younger crowd. Still, at this stage in the day there were a number of heavy-hitting questions yet to be touched. Cue the post-lunch Q & A panel… Sharon Dirckx had a slim five minutes to answer a broad question on how science and religion relate. She challenged the typical ‘conflict’ narrative of the new atheists and explained its historical roots in Victorian professional politics. She also told her own testimony about how she had been an undergraduate studying the sciences, who had
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
assumed God was the antithesis of test-tubes, only to then be introduced to a new way of thinking (see page 17). The distinction between science for ‘how’ questions and religion for ‘why’ questions, while too simplistic to adopt carte blanche, was her initial insight for developing a more theistfriendly framework for the sciences. Next, it was Amy’s task to explain just what exactly is going on with those Canaanite ‘genocide’ passages. Objections to the moral content of the Bible, driven as they are by a sense of outrage, can be the most intimidating to face. The objector is impassioned and the complaint often meets the Christian’s own strong sympathies. ‘Yeah, I find this disturbing too – I just wish I had something to say in response!’ Amy offered a cumulative response. War as a means of judgment, first of all, is not God’s modus operandi, but a choice of action he made for a limited time in history. Israel was at times on the receiving end of it too, so it wasn’t ethnically motivated. Moreover, literary clues strongly suggest that the language of ‘total annihilation’ was Ancient Near-Eastern military rhetoric, never intended to be taken literally. By the end of the structured panel session, there was enough mutual comfort and respect in the atmosphere for questioning to take more organic forms. Clusters of enquirers formed around the speakers and spread out to our OCCA alumni and returning students. Jessie Walrond, a recent OCCA graduate, recalled (I imagine with a full-faced grin) that her highlight was being peppered with questions by two girls. ‘If there’s no suffering in heaven, are we still ourselves? Do we recognise one another?’ ‘Is there really a hell then?’ ‘What about people who never get a chance to hear about the gospel?’ And, on a slightly different note, ‘Can we date non-Christians?!’
She was able to work through the heavy intellectual content, while also playing the role of older sister. Michael Suderman, returning for his second year of the Master’s Programme, got to encourage the philosophers: ‘I had the privilege of speaking with a group on the topic of predestination and freewill. They were determined to understand how an allknowing God could know everything they would ever do, have a plan and purpose for their lives, and yet still grant them the freedom to choose to be a part of it. It was such a joy to see them light up when they found out that there really are good answers even to some of the most difficult questions about God and Christianity.’ The time for personal, face-to-face discussions provided the opportunity not just to reap answers, but to connect with fellow Christians, in order to dispel the discouraging ‘self-talk’ that one is all alone and is the only person who ever asks tough questions. We adjusted the schedule slightly to keep the conversations going before pressing on to the closing segment of the day. The late afternoon was all about hitting home the significance of Christian truth. Zack Preston shared his testimony of how God’s voice reached him in prison and then Vince Vitale began explaining the cross. The logic of substitutionary atonement (why Jesus had to die like he did) isn’t always immediately obvious, and a deeper appreciation for how it holds together can turn vexation to spiritual vitality. Vince had the task of making sense of it from many angles, but the most powerful point was his explanation of Christ’s sharing in human suffering. It turns out that Vince’s mother is skilled at administering rather unorthodox, but unforgettable life lessons. Having been knocked around playing sports
with an older crowd, the young Vince had come home in tears. ‘I was crying “I’m not tough enough, I’m not tough enough!”, but my mum knelt down beside me and said “Hit me!”’ Those seated at the back stood to get a better view of Vince crouching in replication of the scene. ‘I don’t know what was going through my mind…or hers…but I reared back and sent forth a clean blow to the nose. To my astonishment, blood trickled down her face.’ There was laughter in the audience – some perhaps wondering if they’d be permitted to repeat such a practice. ‘My shame and embarrassment disappeared. My mum was willing to suffer to identify with my pain and carry me through it.’ The day was really important for many of those present, as doubt and intellectual isolation can be harboured for a long time. The momentum of the sessions called for a time of ministry after Vince stepped off the stage. Another of our alumni, Callom Harkrader, was about to head off to meet friends at the train station when Amy asked him to partner in prayer. A young guy, probably fourteen, had come forward. He looked troubled and downtrodden. He had been so moved by the day that he wanted to commit his life to Christ, but was ashamed by the fact that he had already made that commitment two years ago. ‘So why haven’t I believed in Him as strongly before today?’ was his question. ‘Is God really in me?’ ‘Can I have assurance?’ Callom shared how it was ‘such a privilege to pray God's truths into his life and see his tears of joy, as Amy and I prayed for him. Yes, we can have blessed assurance!’ The enthusiasm for answers – as the graver side to an encouraging day – highlights how we, the church, if we’re honest, have struggled to know how to disciple teens in a post-Christian culture. The received youth-group canon of Bible stories and ethical assertions has often left young Christians unprepared for the serious intellectual challenges of the secular world. Through our engagement with stand-alone seminars or talks to young people over the years, we’ve increasingly felt the need to devote more time to meeting this need. We hope that introducing this full training day is a strong step forward. Yet the day was not simply about answering questions, as it was about engaging both people’s minds and hearts for God. This is why the event began with a time of worship (led by a band that included a number of teenagers), as it is difficult to be an effective witness if the two are not married together. We’re thrilled so many young people attended. As post-event feedback has trickled in, all we can say is that we’re privileged to have been involved in a day that helped so many young people feel – perhaps for the first time – proud (in the right sense of the word) to be Christian!
Martin Smith OCCA TUTORS’ ASSISTANT
lutely o s b swer s an a I" t wa y did it an how l t ot on lso learn tians N ! t even ns but I a on-Chris chg n i z ama y questio proach n some mu ver ap an ne me my m nd should . It gave y faith. I e God nity ld a ut m aus I cou t Christia ence abo hing bec ope that abou ed confid out anyt n only h as I did. a b need scared a er me. I c as much 2014!" to be oking aft njoyed it r Reboot d e e o n ays lo veryone e n’t wait f si alw e a C
SCIENCE AND THE MISSION OF THE MIND BY SHARON DIRCK X
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
During a recent speaking engagement, I mentioned that the aim of RZIM is in ‘helping the thinker believe and the believer think’. At the end, someone objected that the emphasis on ‘thinking’ was misplaced, as most of his congregants feel rather than think. At first glance this objection appeals. We need answers that reach into the very heart of a person, not dry intellectual answers. I couldn’t agree more, but to portray thinking and feeling as mutually exclusive presents a false dichotomy and over-simplifies what it means to be human. Behavioural Psychology exists because the mind and emotions (and subsequent actions) are connected, as does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, in which positive ‘self-talk’ impacts well-being and behaviour. What people think about themselves impacts self-esteem with all sorts of knock-on effects, including in eating habits, relationships, career success and so on. Andy Murray would surely
by many to fall naturally into the lap of atheism. I grew up with these very assumptions, until I attended a ‘Grill-a-Christian’ event as a Biochemistry undergraduate and asked the question, ‘Surely you can’t believe in God and be a scientist at the same time?’ The answer that they were operating on different planes, answering different questions was, for me at that time, ‘rocket-science’ that I had never before encountered. I had assumed that one can either believe in God or Science, but not both. Since science is verifiable, repeatable, and often visible, whereas faith is unverifiable, unrepeatable and invisible, the sensible choice was to choose science. Another false dichotomy.
THE CHRISTIAN GOD [IS] PRO-SCIENCE AND PRO-TECHNOLOGY...
The naturalistic view (part of atheism which believes that nature accounts for everything in life) is that ‘matter’ has always existed and ‘mind’ has emerged from ‘matter’. Contrast this with theism, which holds that ‘mind’, (the mind of God), has always existed and ‘matter’ has emerged from ‘mind’. Which view best accounts for the underlying orderliness? The 20th century geneticist J. B. S. Haldane points out that if the human mind is purely a product of the blind amalgamation of atoms then why should we believe any thought it throws out, whether religious, irreligious or scientific? It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. (J. B. S. HALDANE, POSSIBLE WORLDS)
support the notion that both ability and self-belief are needed to win Wimbledon. The phrase ‘mind over matter’ runs deep. The mind impacts the emotions, and the emotions impact the mind. We see this in Scripture, for example, when the psalmist intersects his own thoughtlife by speaking to his very soul and redirecting his thoughts to God, ‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God’ (Psalm 42:5). It is not by coincidence that Jesus emphasizes that the most important commandment of all is to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:30). What is the role of the mind in the scientific realm? Science is assumed
A key question to consider is, ‘How do we account for the underlying consistency in the natural world?’ The scientific method proceeds on the basis that the natural world and the human mind are undergirded by orderliness. If a study is carried out in Oxford and repeated in Cambridge, then, if the conditions are constant, the results should be the same. If Cambridge produces different data then we would call into question the original data from Oxford precisely because of the assumption that there is an underlying orderliness in nature. Without this consistency in nature and in the human mind nothing would be repeatable and verifiable. The debate is often portrayed as ‘Science versus Faith’ and yet every time a scientist designs and carries out a new experiment they exercise faith in the orderliness of nature.
As Professor John Lennox points out, the very earliest human in existence was engaged in the God-given endeavor of taxonomy, in other words using his mind both logically and creatively to name the animals. Not only is the Christian God proscience and pro-technology, but one could argue that he is the very Being through whom they are made possible.
Sharon Dirckx TUTOR, OCCA (Article originally written for BMS World Mission and reproduced by their permission) Sharon Dirckx is the author of Why? Looking at God, Evil and Personal Suffering.
If you are interested in reading more about the interface of science and religion, then please see our recommended reading list on page 8.
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
MEET the OCCA STUDENTS For those with a passion to make Christ known, studying at the OCCA is a life-changing experience, combining effective evangelism with academic rigour. 26 students representing 10 countries from around the world are currently enrolled across two courses.
1 DANIEL DOOLEY
USA(Masters student Y2)
5 7 9
USA(Masters student Y1)
1 2 14 8 12 3 15 10&11 4 18 17 6 16 13 19
SUM KEONG WONG
USA(Masters student Y2)
USA / ARMENIA
Germany / South Korea
25 24 22
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS FOR ARTICLE BY JOHN CAIRNS
Australia AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE – EFFEC TIVE EVANGELISM – SPIRITUAL FORMATION
STUDENT FOCUS: RAYMOND BUKENYA Uganda Raymond is a naturally gifted evangelist, teacher and preacher, with a deep passion for reaching out to the younger generation. A few years ago, he worked as a Coordinator for Missions and Outreaches at a university chapel (which hosts about 5000 students) in one of Uganda’s biggest public universities. For the last three years, he has been a full-time missionary in Karamoja, North Eastern Uganda, reaching out to people in every spectrum of life from children to prison inmates.
ANI SHAHINYAN USA / Armenia Ani has, most recently, been working for the United States Department of Justice assisting in human trafficking prosecutions, as well as mentoring young professionals at the C.S. Lewis Institute in the Washington D.C. area. Her passion for the truth drives her to know Christ with all her mind, heart, soul, and strength, and to labour for His kingdom.
A personal word from Ani
A personal word from Raymond
“Since a young age, I loved the
“I can barely believe that I am in
about proclaiming the reality of the
Oxford! For years now, I have longed for an opportunity to study Theology further and to be here is a dream come true. Hardly a week in Oxford, and I can already clearly see that this is what has been missing in my life and ministry until this point! Without the ‘great miracle’, as I refer to it, with God, the OCCA and Wycliffe Hall coming together to give me such a generous scholarship, I would never be here. Thank you for those who have made it possible. After the OCCA, I will return to minister in Uganda and I am confident that I will return a wiser, bolder, more effective evangelist, also able to teach/train others. My role will be to lead evangelism in the Anglican Diocese of Karamoja, including recruiting and training young people for evangelistic outreach across Karamoja, Uganda, Africa and the whole world.”
Scriptures and have been passionate gospel boldly; questioning people’s assumptions and challenging their reasons for the beliefs they hold. Over the years, I whispered the deep desire in my heart and recognized the need for ways to be better equipped for such a crucial mission in today’s culture. Five years ago, I heard Ravi speak at a conference and right then the Lord planted the seed in my life to come to the OCCA. Because of God’s goodness and faithfulness through the OCCA scholarship fund and the many fervent prayers, I am able to study this year and train as an apologist to serve my generation. I am excited to see the Lord change lives, renew hearts, and revive the nations through my OCCA class for His glory. I hope to return as an ambassador for Christ, an agent for truth, and carry His mission in the government.”
Please support the OCCA and our students through our online giving page www.theocca.org/donate
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
EVENTS RZIM TRAINING
The next training day will be on 25 January 2014 in Oxford. See the back cover for more detailed information and for instructions about how to book.
2014 OXFORD SUMMER SCHOOL Convinced? Engaging hearts and minds for Christ
RZIM TRAINING We run a regular residential training course that is held over three long weekends in the year. The next training weekend will be at the Chartridge Lodge Hotel, Chesham, from 6-9 February 2014. See our website for further details. New delegates are welcome at the weekends and the course can be completed as and when people are able to attend (i.e. you don’t have to commit to three consecutive weekends).
We hold an annual summer school in Oxford, which is a concentrated week of apologetics training attended by delegates from around the world. It is a residential course held in the Queen’s College from 6-12 July. Full details and booking information will be on our website from 3 December and we strongly recommend booking early, in order to avoid disappointment.
The OCCA Business Programme DESIGNED FOR THOSE WITH A PASSION TO MAKE CHRIST KNOWN IN THE MARKE TPL ACE
9th June to 12th July 2014. Oxford, UK. The Business Programme at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics is designed to equip senior business people and professionals with the ability to share and defend the Christian faith in a credible, culturally-engaging and relevant way.
For further details about the OCCA courses and to apply online, see www.theocca.org
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
THE DIARY EUROPEAN TEAM SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS
16 17 19-21 21 22 22-25 23 23-24 25 25 26 27
SCIENCE FORUM, MADRID
HOPE AND GRACE ROMANIAN CHURCH, LONDON CANARY ISLANDS MISSION
WESTMINSTER ABBEY, LONDON
(Alister McGrath and Michael Ramsden)
OXFORD INTERCOLLEGIATE CHRISTIAN UNION LUNCH TIME TALK, OXFORD NORTHERN IRELAND EVENTS ST LUKE’S CRANHAM
MAGDALEN COLLEGE, OXFORD
LONDON INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITY CHRISTIANS IN PARLIAMENT EVENT, WESTMINSTER ST EBBE’S POSTGRADUATE GROUP, OXFORD
BAPTIST MISSIONARY SOCIETY WORLD VISION CATALYST EVENT, MANCHESTER
(Michael Ramsden and Michelle Tepper)
BAPTIST MISSIONARY SOCIETY WORLD VISION CATALYST EVENT, READING (John Lennox and Sharon Dirckx)
LOOKING FURTHER AHEAD
28 28 29-1 DEC
AMERICA CLUB OF THE RIVIERA, MONTE CARLO
1 2 3 3-4 4 5 6 6 6-8 7 8 9 10 11 12 12 15 16 18
ST ANDREW’S CHURCH YOUTH GROUP, OXFORD
25 JAN 6-9 FEB
RZIM TRAINING DAY, OXFORD
STUDENT EVENT, CLUJ, ROMANIA
WEEKEND APOLOGETICS TRAINING, IASI, ROMANIA
EVANGELISTIC TALK, GRANADA ST PAUL’S, EALING
SWISS EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE LEADERS’ FORUM, ZURICH TRANSATLANTIC COUNCIL, BRUSSELS
BRISTOL UNIVERSITY CHRISTIAN UNION
MANCHESTER UNIVERSITY CHRISTIAN UNION CAROL SERVICE NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY CAROL SERVICE GBU CONFERENCE, PESCARA, ITALY
HOPE AND GRACE ROMANIAN CHURCH, LONDON CHRIST CHURCH, VIENNA
(Amy Orr-Ewing) (Vlad Criznic)
PARLIAMENT OF LITHUANIA
LIVERPOOL UNIVERSITY CAROL SERVICE HOUSE OF LORDS, WESTMINSTER
BRISTOL UNIVERSITY CHRISTIAN UNION
TALK AT MALAGA UNIVERSITY
CHRISTMAS SERVICE, VIENNA
WHITEHALL CAROL SERVICE
WHITEHALL CAROL SERVICE
(John Lennox) (Team)
RZIM TRAINING WEEKEND, CHESHAM
THIS LIST DOES NOT INCLUDE ALL OF THE EVENTS THAT OUR SPEAKERS ARE INVOLVED WITH, AND SOME MAYBE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. IF YOU WANT FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT ANY OF THE ABOVE PLEASE CONTACT OUR OXFORD OFFICE.
GOD AND DISAPPOINTMENT I struggled as a teenager growing up in Delhi. Failure was writ large on my life. My dad basically looked at me and said, ‘You know, you’re going to be a huge embarrassment to the family – one failure after another.’ And he was right given the way I was headed. I wanted to get out of everything I was setting my hand to, and I lacked discipline.
to break your heart today.’ He continued, ‘I’m going to reject you. I’m not going to pass you in this test.’ ‘May I ask you why, sir?’ I replied.
During this time, India was at war and the defence academy was looking for general duties pilots to be trained. So I applied and I went to be interviewed, which involved an overnight train journey from the city of Delhi. It was wintertime and we were outside freezing for about five days as we went through physical endurance and other tests. There were three hundred applicants; they were going to select ten. On the last day they put their selection of names out on the board, and I was positioned number three. I phoned my family and said, ‘You aren’t going to believe this. I’m going to make it. I’m number three. The only thing that’s left is the interview. The psychological testing is tomorrow, and I’ll be home.’ The next morning I began my interview with the chief commanding officer, who looked to me like Churchill sitting across the table. He asked me question after question. Then he said, ‘Son, I’m going
‘Yes. Psychologically, you’re not wired to kill. And this job is about killing.’ I felt that I was on the verge of wanting to prove him wrong – but I knew better, both for moral reasons and for his size! I went back to my room and didn’t talk to anybody. I packed my bags, got into the train, and arrived in Delhi. My parents and friends were waiting at the platform with garlands and sweets in their hands to congratulate me. No one knew. I thought to myself, ‘How do I even handle this? Where do I even begin?’ They were celebrating, and yet for me, it was all over. Or so I thought. I was to discover later that God is the Grand Weaver of our lives. Every thread matters and is there for a purpose. Had I been selected, I would have had to commit twenty years to the Indian armed forces. It was the very next year that my father had the opportunity to move to Canada. My brother and
I moved there as the first instalment, and the rest of them followed. It was there I was in business school and God redirected my path to theological training. It was there that I met my wife, Margie; there my whole life changed. The rest is history. Had I been in the Indian Air Force, who knows what thread I’d have pulled to try to wreck the fabric. Thankfully, our disappointments matter to God, and God has a way of taking even some of the bitterest moments we go through and making them into something of great significance in our lives. It’s hard to understand at the time. Not one of us says, ‘I can hardly wait to see where this thread is going to fit.’ Rather, we say, ‘This is not the pattern I want.’ Yet one day the Shepherd of our souls will put it all together – and give us an eternity to revel in the marvel of what God has done. Our Father holds the threads of the design, and I’m so immensely grateful that God is the Grand Weaver.
Ravi Zacharias FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN OF RZIM (Reproduced from RZIM’s Slice of Infinity)
AUTUMN 2013 | PULSE ISSUE 15
Relatively Godless? TRUTH, IDENTITY AND MORALITY IN A POST-MODERN WORLD
RZIM Training Day - Saturday 25th January 2014 Should we simply accept that we live in a morally confusing world where ‘anything goes’? Moral relativism has a much deeper impact on society than many realise; it ultimately leads to a redefinition of our relationships, ourselves, and of God. This RZIM Training Day is aimed at giving Christians a greater confidence to respond to key questions that we face today about identity, and right and wrong.
The day includes talks on: •
Objectification: from connection to consumerism, with Michael Ramsden addressing contemporary challenges to relationships.
The impact of relativism on how God is viewed: Sharon Dirckx focuses on how Christians can respond to objections about a personal God or his character.
Emerging technologies: Tom Price looks at how these further complicate human identity, and whether the church will have persuasive answers ready for the future moral landscape.
Extensive Q&A session with the speakers, an Apologetics Area set aside for you to ask key questions and a comprehensive range of apologetics resources on sale.
Booking online at www.rzim.eu from 1st November Location: St Aldates Church, Oxford. Date: Saturday 25th January 2014, 9.00am – 4.00pm Cost
(includes lunch): Standard ticket - £27.50. Concession - £20.00 (Student, unwaged)
Further information can be found on the website