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Interview with Secular UofT Students Following Christian-Atheist Dialogue

On the opening night of the Relevant Series Week around 300 students attended a dialogue that I moderated, between Christian thinker Dr. Andy Bannister and atheist Professor Dr. Ronald de Sousa, which included a Q&A from the audience. The event was co-hosted by the University of Toronto Secular Alliance and a number of Christian ministries.

RZIM Canada had chance to speak with two members of the Secular Alliance. They asked them what they thought about the event. Watch their interview below:

What did you think about the event tonight? Members from the University of Toronto secular alliance.

Posted by RZIM Canada on Monday, January 16, 2017

Story of Relevant Mission Week 2017 in Pictures and Quotes

Over the course of a week during the Relevant Series at the University of Toronto we hosted 17 talks in which 1500 people attended and we ran various engagement activities throughout the campus. Below are some quotes and pictures that really capture what happened during the week. Enjoy!

#UofT #January2017 #Alberta 🇨🇦

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#RelevantSeries: Justitia Park, Michelle Tepper and @andygbannister in #WycliffeCollege at @uoft

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Thanks for braving the cold for Jesus! #JustWhiteboardingThings #RelevantMoments ••• #Relevant2017 #RelevantSeries

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Encouraging results! #lads #JustWhiteboardingThings #RelevantMoments ••• #Relevant2017 #RelevantSeries

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#RelevantSeries : Where is God when life hurts? By Dr Sharon Dirckx . Q&A with Michelle Tepper @rzimcanada @rzimhq

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#RelevantSeries with #MichelleTepper – Why would a loving God judge me?

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First item of outreach today at SS! Excited to see how our campus responds! #RelevantMoments ••• #Relevant2017 #RelevantSeries

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#RelevantSeries : Dialogue between a Christian and a Muslim with Abdu Murray and Vimay Khetia @uoft @rzimcanada

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Interactions. Make them count. 💪🏼🙏🏼 #RelevantMoments ••• #Relevant2017 #RelevantSeries #PowerToChange #P2C #UofT

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#RelevantSeries with Sam Allberry – Sexuality and Identity: who am I ? I'm very happy to be here 💙

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Videos of the 2017 Relevant Series at the University of Toronto

It was a great honour and joy to again co-lead the University of Toronto mission week, this time with my friend Logan Gates of RZIM. Last semester during the Relevant Series week, 1500 students attended 17 talks. Wycliffe College was generous to film and edit a number of the talks. Here are all of the videos we recorded below. Click on the individual talk titles to access the videos.

IS GOD SEXIST? WITH MICHELLE TEPPER

Is the Bible misogynistic? Wasn’t the Bible written by primitive men who were flagrant sexists? What is God’s design? What leadership roles did Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Rahab, Lydia, and others have in the storyline of the Bible? How did Jesus treat women? How is Christianity good news for women?

IS GOD AGAINST MY FREEDOM? WITH DR. ANDY BANNISTER

Does God want to keep me from enjoying the good things in life? To call certain things “off limits” that bring me happiness? Shouldn’t I have the right to choose how I want to live? What is the connection between freedom and virtue? Imagine leadership without character, business without ethics and science without human values—in short, freedom without virtue. Why did Jesus say that he came to bring freedom? What did he mean by this? Why is this good news?

IS CHRISTIANITY IRRATIONAL? A DIALOGUE BETWEEN AN ATHEIST AND A CHRISTIAN

Is Christianity the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence? Is Christian faith belief in spite of the lack of evidence? Is it a belief system made up to avoid dealing with the harshness of the universe? What makes something rational? If Christianity is rational, what is the evidence for it? And if there are good reasons, would this be something we would even want to be true? Hear two great intellectuals dialogue on this important subject.

DOES RELIGION POISON EVERYTHING? WITH DR. ANDY BANNISTER

Richard Dawkins said: “Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that.”From war, to child abuse, to slavery, to racism, to its treatment of women, to academic progress, doesn’t everything religion touches fall apart? Isn’t religion the great virus that our society needs a cure from?What if the problem is not religion, but human beings themselves? What are some of the great things that religion has inspired from music, to social justice, to health care, to science, to scholarship, to literature, to education, to human rights, to economic reform? Why is religion on the one hand such a force for good in the world and on the other hand often such a force for evil? Listen to this fascinating talk with Q&A.

WHERE IS GOD WHEN LIFE HURTS? WITH DR. SHARON DIRCKX

If God is in charge and is loving, why is life filled with so much purposeless pain? Why doesn’t he step in when injustice occurs? Why would he make the world if he knew how much suffering there would be? If God is good, how does he bring meaning and hope in the midst of suffering? How is he going to finally end suffering? What assurance do we have that this true?

VIDEO CLIP FROM THE Q&A OF “THE BIBLE: FACT OR FICTION?”

Is the Bible a myth? Does it describe real events in history? Hasn’t it been corrupted so the original message has been lost? If not, what is the evidence that it can be taken seriously?

MUSLIM, CHRISTIAN DIALOGUE ON “WHO IS GOD?”

Who is God and what should our response be as human beings? How should we love our neighbour? Christians and    Muslims share these two great questions, but have different approaches to answering them. Watch a rich dialogue between a Muslim and a Christian as they speak on their faith’s understanding of the nature of God, and how these differences play out in terms of what they offer to a hurting world in need of hope.

ARE ALL RELIGIONS BASICALLY THE SAME? WITH ABDU MURRAY

Aren’t all religions beautiful myths based on faith that all teach basically the same thing? Be a good person, love your neighbour, care for the poor, practice justice? Isn’t it bigoted and ethnocentric to say that one religion is more true to reality (science, history, the human condition) than another? Can tests of truth even be applied to religion? If so, what would they be? If religions don’t all teach the same thing, that they are fundamentally different, yet superficially the same, where do they differ?

SEXUALITY AND IDENTITY? WHO AM I? WITH SAM ALLBERRY

Why do we often look to sex to build our sense of worth and value? Does sex bring us the fulfillment we are looking for? Is one’s sexuality too fragile to build an identity on? What is something more lasting and empowering and freeing than our sexuality to determine who we are?

The Relevant Series (www.relevantseries.com) was sponsored by the following campus groups: Wycliffe College, Power to Change, Chinese Christian Fellowship, Agape Impact, Network of Christian Scholars, Inter-Varsity, Everynation Campus, and Athletes in Action.

Video of “Sexuality and Identity: Who am I?” with Sam Allberry, Relevant Series at the University of Toronto

It was a great joy to again co-lead the University of Toronto mission week. During the Relevant Series week, 1500 students attended 17 talks. Here is the video of one of the most well attended below.

SEXUALITY AND IDENTITY? WHO AM I? WITH SAM ALLBERRY

Why do we often look to sex to build our sense of worth and value? Does sex bring us the fulfillment we are looking for? Is one’s sexuality too fragile to build an identity on? What is something more lasting and empowering and freeing than our sexuality to determine who we are?

SPEAKER:

SAM ALLBERRY is a graduate of Oxford University (theology), an editor for The Gospel Coalition, a global speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), and a pastor based in Maidenhead, UK. He is the author of a number of books, including the well known Is God Anti-Gay?, Why Bother with Church, and his latest co-authored with Tim Keller called 90 Days in John 14-17. Sam speaks widely on issues of sexuality and identity. He is currently working on projects concerning singleness and the Christian understanding of the body. He is a founding editor of Living Out, a ministry for those struggling with same-sex attraction. In his spare time Sam enjoys hiking, American history, and slowly perfecting his recipe for Thai green curry.

JOINING FOR Q&A

MICHELLE TEPPER is an itinerant speaker with RZIM in the US, teaching worldwide on a number of subjects, including the problem of pain, God’s character, sex, relationships, and love.

Before moving back to home to the United States, Michelle was based in Oxford. She studied theology at the University of Oxford, was a guest lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, and spoke overseas as a part of the RZIM European team Prior to joining the RZIM staff, Michelle worked for six years as the University Chaplain for St. Aldate’s—a thriving, historic, student friendly church located in the heart of Oxford. While at Oxford, Michelle met and married her husband there. Michelle and her husband, Peter, live in Florida with their daughter, Sophia.

The Relevant Series (www.relevantseries.com) is sponsored by the following campus groups: Wycliffe College, Power to Change, Chinese Christian Fellowship, Agape Impact, Network of Christian Scholars, Inter-Varsity, Every Nation Campus, and Athletes in Action.

Video of “Are All Religions Basically the Same?” Relevant Series at the University of Toronto

It was a great joy to again co-lead the University of Toronto mission week. During the Relevant Series week, 1500 students attended 17 talks. Here is a video of one of them.

ARE ALL RELIGIONS BASICALLY THE SAME? WITH ABDU MURRAY

Aren’t all religions beautiful myths based on faith that all teach basically the same thing? Be a good person, love your neighbour, care for the poor, practice justice? Isn’t it bigoted and ethnocentric to say that one religion is more true to reality (science, history, the human condition) than another? Can tests of truth even be applied to religion? If so, what would they be? If religions don’t all teach the same thing, that they are fundamentally different, yet superficially the same, where do they differ?

SPEAKER:

ABDU MURRAY is North American Director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and is the author of “Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews.” For most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim who studied the Qur’an and Islam. After a nine year investigation into the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions and views, Abdu discovered that the historic Christian faith alone can answer the questions of the mind and the longings of the heart.

Abdu holds a BA from the University of Michigan and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. As an attorney, Abdu was named several times in Best Lawyers in America.

JOINING FOR Q&A:

DR. KIRK DURSTON is a scientist and a philosopher with a PhD in Biophysics (University of Guelph), an MA in Philosophy (University of Manitoba), a BSc in Mechanical Engineering, and a BSc in Physics (University of Manitoba). His work involves a significant amount of time thinking, writing and speaking about the interaction of science, theology and philosophy within the context of authentic Christianity. He has published peer reviewed articles in both science and philosophy journals.

Kirk has been married for 35 years to Patti and they have six children and three grandchildren. He enjoys landscape photography, antiques of various types, wilderness canoeing and camping, fly fishing, amateur astronomy, reading, and enjoying family and friends.

MICHELLE TEPPER is an itinerant speaker with RZIM in the US, teaching worldwide on a number of subjects, including the problem of pain, God’s character, sex, relationships, and love.

Before moving back to home to the United States, Michelle was based in Oxford. She studied theology at the University of Oxford, was a guest lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, and spoke overseas as a part of the RZIM European team Prior to joining the RZIM staff, Michelle worked for six years as the University Chaplain for St. Aldate’s—a thriving, historic, student friendly church located in the heart of Oxford. While at Oxford, Michelle met and married her husband there. Michelle and her husband, Peter, live in Florida with their daughter, Sophia.

The Relevant Series (www.relevantseries.com) is sponsored by the following campus groups: Wycliffe College, Power to Change, Chinese Christian Fellowship, Agape Impact, Network of Christian Scholars, Inter-Varsity, Every Nation Campus, and Athletes in Action.

Video of Muslim, Christian Dialogue on “Who is God?” Relevant Series at the University of Toronto

It was a great joy to again co-lead the University of Toronto mission week. During the Relevant Series week, 1500 students attended 17 talks. Here is a video of an interesting dialogue between a Muslim and a Christian. Thanks to Steve Hewko for his help with organizing and moderating this dialogue.

Who is God and what should our response be as human beings? How should we love our neighbour? Christians and Muslims share these two great questions, but have different approaches to answering them. Watch a rich dialogue between a Muslim and a Christian as they speak on their faith’s understanding of the nature of God, and how these differences play out in terms of what they offer to a hurting world in need of hope.

SPEAKERS:

VINAY KHETIA was born and raised in Toronto. He has a undergraduate degree in Religious and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Toronto, completed an MA in the History and Philosophy of Religion at Concordia University, and is currently a PhD Candidate in the department of Religious Studies at McMaster University with a specialization in Shi’ism and the Anthropology of Religion. Throughout the years Vinay has also studied at various traditional Islamic seminaries in London, Iraq and Syria. He serves as an Imam in Toronto.

Vinay has written and published various articles dealing with the Qur’an and Islamic Law in peer reviewed academic publications.

ABDU MURRAY, is North American Director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) and is the author of “Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews.” For most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim who studied the Qur’an and Islam. After a nine year investigation into the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions and views, Abdu discovered that the historic Christian faith alone can answer the questions of the mind and the longings of the heart.

Abdu holds a BA from the University of Michigan and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. As an attorney, Abdu was named several times in Best Lawyers in America.

MODERATOR:

STEVE HEWKO is the Program Director at Wycliffe College, at the University of Toronto. He has a BSc degree from the University of Alberta and a Masters of Theological Studies from Wycliffe College. Steve is currently completing a PhD in Interdisciplinary Islamic and Christian theology focusing on theologies of religion.

Video Clip from the Q&A of “The Bible: Fact or Fiction,” Relevant Series at the University of Toronto

My new colleague, Wesley Huff, of the newly formed Power to Change Apologetics Team, answers questions regarding the reliability of the text of the biblical New Testament. This video is taken from the Q&A for the talk “The Bible: Fact or Fiction” during the Relevant Series at the University of Toronto following a talk by RZIM Canada’s Logan Gates.

TALK DESCRIPTION: Is the Bible a myth? Does it describe real events in history? Hasn’t it been corrupted so the original message has been lost? If not, what is the evidence that it can be taken seriously?

The Relevant Series (www.relevantseries.com) is sponsored by the following campus groups: Wycliffe College, Power to Change, Chinese Christian Fellowship, Agape Impact, Network of Christian Scholars, Inter-Varsity, Every Nation Campus, and Athletes in Action.

Where is God When Life Hurts? with Dr. Sharon Dirckx: Relevant Series at the University of Toronto

It was a great joy to again co-lead the University of Toronto mission week, this time with my friend Logan Gates of RZIM. Last semester during the Relevant Series week, 1500 students attended 17 talks. Here is a video of one of them.

WHERE IS GOD WHEN LIFE HURTS? WITH DR. SHARON DIRCKX

If God is in charge and is loving, why is life filled with so much purposeless pain? Why doesn’t he step in when injustice occurs? Why would he make the world if he knew how much suffering there would be? If God is good, how does he bring meaning and hope in the midst of suffering? How is he going to finally end suffering? What assurance do we have that this true?

SPEAKER:

DR. SHARON DIRCKX is an Academic Tutor at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford. Originally from a scientific background, she has a PhD in brain imaging from the University of Cambridge and has held research positions at the University of Oxford and in the US. She has since been invited to speak and lecture in a variety of contexts and has also appeared on the BBC and Unbelievable?.

Her topics of interest include the interface between science and faith, and also suffering. Her book “Why?: Looking at God, Evil and Personal Suffering” won the prize for best book at the 2014 UK Christian Book Awards. “Why?” interweaves the stories of people who have suffered, with a practical look at some “Why?” questions on suffering. Sharon lives in Oxford with her husband and two young children.

JOINING FOR Q&A:

MICHELLE TEPPER is an itinerant speaker with RZIM in the US, teaching worldwide on a number of subjects, including the problem of pain, God’s character, sex, relationships, and love.

Before moving back to home to the United States, Michelle was based in Oxford. She studied theology at the University of Oxford, was a guest lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, and spoke overseas as a part of the RZIM European team Prior to joining the RZIM staff, Michelle worked for six years as the University Chaplain for St. Aldate’s—a thriving, historic, student friendly church located in the heart of Oxford. While at Oxford, Michelle met and married her husband there. Michelle and her husband, Peter, live in Florida with their daughter, Sophia.

GEORGE SIMOPOULOS received his BA from the University of Toronto, specializing in Political Science, with a secondary major in Ethics, Society and Law. His academic interests include early modern and ancient political thought and the role of religion in the public sphere. He is doing graduate studies in theology and culture at the University of Toronto.

He is currently on staff with Power to Change, engaging campus life by asking the big questions not often discussed in class.

 

The Relevant Series (www.relevantseries.com) is sponsored by the following campus groups: Wycliffe College, Power to Change, Chinese Christian Fellowship, Agape Impact, Network of Christian Scholars, Inter-Varsity, Everynation Campus, and Athletes in Action.

Video of “Does Religion Poison Everything?” with Dr. Andy Bannister: Relevant Series at the University of Toronto

It was a great honour and joy to again co-lead the University of Toronto mission week, this time with my friend Logan Gates of RZIM. Last semester during the Relevant Series week, 1500 students attended 17 talks. Here is a video of one of them.

DOES RELIGION POISON EVERYTHING? WITH DR. ANDY BANNISTER

Richard Dawkins said: “Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that.”

From war, to child abuse, to slavery, to racism, to its treatment of women, to academic progress, doesn’t everything religion touches fall apart? Isn’t religion the great virus that our society needs a cure from?

What if the problem is not religion, but human beings themselves? What are some of the great things that religion has inspired from music, to social justice, to health care, to science, to scholarship, to literature, to education, to human rights, to economic reform? Why is religion on the one hand such a force for good in the world and on the other hand often such a force for evil? Listen to this fascinating talk with Q&A.

SPEAKER:

DR. ANDY BANNISTER, a Christian, is a popular author, speaker and broadcaster. He speaks and teaches regularly throughout Canada, the USA, Europe, and the wider world, addressing audiences of all faiths and none on issues of philosophy, belief, and scepticism. Andy holds a doctorate in Islamic studies from Brunel University, London, is a guest lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford, is the Director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity, and Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology.

Recently, Dr. Andy Bannister released the book: “The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or the Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments” (Oxford: Lion). In this book he looks at common atheist soundbites that at first glance sound like quite powerful, but upon deeper examination begin to unravel. He uses humour, wit, good illustrations, logic, and reason to get to the bottom of things.

Andy is the author of “An Oral-Formulaic Study of the Qur’an” (a groundbreaking and innovative study that reveals many of the ways the Qur’an was first composed). He also co-wrote and presented the TV documentary, “Burning Questions.”

He enjoys mountaineering, juggling, and cats (although not simultaneously). He is married to Astrid and they have two children, Caitriona and Christopher. He tweets frequently at @andygbannister.

JOINING FOR Q&A:

MICHELLE TEPPER is an itinerant speaker with RZIM in the US, teaching worldwide on a number of subjects, including the problem of pain, God’s character, sex, relationships, and love.

Before moving back to home to the United States, Michelle was based in Oxford. She studied theology at the University of Oxford, was a guest lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, and spoke overseas as a part of the RZIM European team Prior to joining the RZIM staff, Michelle worked for six years as the University Chaplain for St. Aldate’s—a thriving, historic, student friendly church located in the heart of Oxford. While at Oxford, Michelle met and married her husband there. Michelle and her husband, Peter, live in Florida with their daughter, Sophia.

NICK HILL has been a campus staff member with Power to Change at the University of Toronto for the last seven years and more recently was appointed to co-lead the Power to Change Canadian Apologetics Team. He loves to spend time with students of different worldviews to learn, to discuss, and to talk about the big questions of life. Nick organizes many large and small events at U of T for the purpose of clearing away misunderstandings and roadblocks that keep students and professors from engaging with Jesus Christ. Some of these events have included: “Is it True? Getting to the Heart of the World’s Religions”, “Why? Exploring Life’s Key Questions?”, “Bad Arguments Against True Religion,” “Has Science Made God Irrelevant?” and the “Relevant Series.”

Nick received a BA in Christianity and Culture from Trinity Western University. He has done graduate work in theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and summer studies at Yale Divinity School.

When not engaged in dialoguing with others about ideas that matter, Nick enjoys rock climbing both at his local gym and outdoors. He lives in Toronto, is married to Jen, and they have four wonderful children: Grace, Iain, Jacob, and Kate.

 

The Relevant Series (www.relevantseries.com) is sponsored by the following campus groups: Wycliffe College, Power to Change, Chinese Christian Fellowship, Agape Impact, Network of Christian Scholars, Inter-Varsity, Everynation Campus, and Athletes in Action.