Christian Union Hosts Wintersession Lecturesby Catherine Elvy, Staff Writer
A group of students with Christian Union's ministry at Harvard College probed some of Christianity's toughest questions during the Wintersession break.
In collaboration with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, the students hosted three talks in January in Boylston Hall to examine questions that are core to the faith. The topics included the resurrection of Christ, the intersection of science and faith, and why God is sometimes perceived as hidden.
"We had some really good discussions," said Brian Zhang '15, a member of the ministry's outreach team.
During Harvard's Wintersession, just before the commencement of the spring semester, campus organizations offer a variety of enrichment courses and opportunities.
Students with Christian Union's leadership development ministry at Harvard developed the idea for the training sessions after an undergraduate led a discussion on apologetics over the 2014 break. Once the spring semester started, the students resumed their regular Christian Union Bible Courses, weekly leadership lecture series, times of prayer and seeking God, and campus outreach events.
Alycia Wood and Nathan Rittenhouse, interns with Ravi Zacharias Ministries, partnered with Christian Union to host the discussions. Zhang noted the lectures prompted a lively conversation on personal miracles and encounters with God.
For her session, Wood highlighted some of the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ, including the writings of Roman historian Tacitus, who referenced early Christians in his work, Annals. The manuscripts of another historian, Flavius Josephus, also include mentions of Christ and the origins of Christianity.
The students "were excited to learn there are so many outside sources (corroborating Christian history)," said Wood.
As for Rittenhouse, the physics major tackled the topic of faith and science by spotlighting the difference between agents and mechanisms. "Science is a study of mechanisms. It doesn't say anything about the agent who may use that," he said. "The things God does are not necessarily repeatable."
Likewise, the students enjoyed a conversation about unexplainable spiritual events. "It ended on a really positive note," said Rittenhouse of the series. "In a skeptical world, it helped provide vocabulary to discuss [spiritual] events."
Don Weiss, Christian Union's ministry director at Harvard, has been impressed with Wood's and Rittenhouse's passion for the Gospel and servant-hearted approach to campus ministries in Boston. Giving the students this kind of apologetic teaching over Wintersession helped to create momentum going into the spring semester.
Brandon Price '17, a member of the outreach team for Christian Union's ministry at Harvard, described Wood and Rittenhouse as "very knowledgeable on apologetics. It's encouraging to know that there are intellectuals who do take the claims of the Bible seriously."
Price said he especially appreciated the commitment of the speakers to presenting the Gospel alongside solid apologetics during the recent series.
"From what I could tell, students enjoyed the thorough examination of historical evidence for the resurrection from Alycia, and they also really enjoyed Nathan's reasoning for why science and faith don't conflict," he said.
"They all came out deeply encouraged."