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Christian Union: The Magazine
December 23, 2020

Christian Union Gloria Hosts Lecture with Ryan Gregg 

By Kelly Parks, Staff Writer

This fall, CU Gloria, Christian Union’s ministry at Harvard, virtually hosted Ryan Gregg as a speaker for their Leadership Lecture Series, Doxa. As former co-president at the Harvard Graduate Christian Fellowship, Gregg discussed how to approach Christianity from an intellectual perspective.

Although most secular universities claim that faith and intellect are inherently opposed, Gregg’s story illustrates how the human mind is a gift that allows people to know God more deeply. 

Ryan Gregg Harvard Image 3 edited copy copyPhD candidate Ryan Gregg speaks at Havard Gloria's Leadership Lecture Series, Doxa, via Zoom..

Raised in a Christian home in rural Montana, Gregg became increasingly interested in theology after visiting Israel during his senior year of high school. However, Gregg's life was seriously interrupted by a terrible car crash. While driving with a friend, they lost control over the car and flew off the road. As the car spun out of control, Gregg sensed the presence of Jesus in the car with him. Later, a bystander who witnessed the accident said they saw the vehicle fly over a semi-trailer truck before crashing on the side of the road. Miraculously, both Gregg and his friend survived. However, Gregg’s life was significantly changed after this experience.

After the accident, Gregg became increasingly interested in the meaning of life.“ I thought, if I’m still alive, I want to understand what life’s all about.” Gregg shared. “I no longer played by the rules… Now that I had a concept of how precious life was, I wanted to live it well. If faith was a hoax, then so be it.” Before the accident happened, Gregg was preparing to go to seminary. However, after a semester at Gordon Conwell and another at Jerusalem University College, Gregg dropped out because he lost his zeal for learning about Christian doctrine. After dropping out, Gregg went to work with Shevet Achim, a Christian non-profit that helps bring children with congenital heart defects from Gaza, Iraq, and Syria to get advanced medical care in Israel.While in Israel, Gregg’s increased interest in the meaning of life prompted him to study philosophy and various religions. At that point in his life, Gregg said that "everything was on the table," as he no longer felt particularly tied to Christianity. However, as he continued his independent studies, Gregg was ultimately convicted by Jesus' ethical vision, allowing for his interest in wisdom and passion for life to collide.

Upon returning to the United States, Gregg eventually earned a master's degree in Philosophy of Religion from Harvard University. He is now a PhD candidate in Religion, specializing in Religious Thought (Philosophy and Theology) and Hebrew Bible. According to Gregg, "I stayed on for the doctorate because I realized that there is simply so much content. To really get a handle on things would require several more years of intense study. Also, growth in theological understanding is like the growth of a tree: you can't rush it." Currently, Gregg is in the fifth year of this program. He also works as a visiting scholar at Stanford University while serving as a teaching pastor at The Bay Church. 

According to CU Gloria faculty Fady Ghobrial, "everyone was touched" by Gregg's personal story of wrestling with faith and philosophy. Ghobrial continued, "some said their minds were blown, and others said they were encouraged by his exhortation to lean into the life of the mind and cultivate it as a Christian." Gregg hopes that what he shared at Doxa will ultimately help students come to the "realization that faith in Jesus doesn't close all the questions down, but blows them beautifully wide open."

Because of Doxa’s virtual format in this semester, ministry team leaders Bersa Kelkai '23 and Mason Arbery '22 have been able to recruit Doxa influential Christian speakers from across the nation and globe to encourage students in their walk with the Lord. As thoughtfully defined by Kelkai and Arbery, Doxa is "a weekly gathering of welcoming and intimate community, engaging and empowering fellowship, intellectually stimulating sermons, and overflowing joy in the presence of each other and the Lord, fostered by technical excellence in all areas of planning and execution." Further, Doxa's virtual nature has also allowed for intercampus connections, as students from Columbia, Cornell, Penn, and Stanford have been able to join their peers at Harvard. 

To learn more about Christian Union's ministry at some of the nation's most influential universities, please click here.