Monday

Abdu Murray – Grand Central Story

We often hear that the Church must make the gospel message “relevant to the culture.”  While this is a worthy pursuit, Christians tend to mistake “relevance” for slick marketing or flashy packaging.  To be truly relevant, our message needs to provide truth claims that pertain to our lives in meaningful ways.  The Gospel does this and more by demonstrating not just that the message is relevant to us, but also that we are each relevant to God. The gospel message alone – distinct from atheistic, pantheistic, and other monotheistic faiths (like Islam) – provides the overarching story of God’s interactions with humanity and tells each of us that we are part of that story.  In the Grand Central Story, we find that the story is true, and truly relevant.

Fazale Rana - From What Has Been Made

How often do we hear it proclaimed that scientific advance undermines belief in God’s existence and the credibility of Scriptures? For many, the conflict between science and Christianity justifies the secularism that has become pervasive in our culture. The perceived scientific challenge to the Christian faith keeps skeptics and seekers alike from entertaining the Gospel, while at the same time erodes the confidence of believers. In this session—which targets an audience without a strong scientific background—I briefly describe some of the most significant scientific advances in the last few decade regarding the origins of the universe and life, and show how these insights actually demonstrate God’s existence and the reliability of Scripture. This session will encourage the faith of all believers and inspire some to dig deeper, becoming better equipped to use scientific evidences to share and defend their faith.

Nabeel Qureshi – The Trinity: Father, Son, and Spirit

The Trinity is an often misunderstood doctrine, with heresies available at every turn. Even Christians who can articulate this foundational doctrine can feel uncertain in explaining it. In this session we will look at a clear definition of the Trinity, consider the Biblical support for this doctrine in the Old and New Testaments, and come to understand how our Trinitarian God makes sense of what it means to be human.

Michelle Tepper - When God's rules seem too tough: Love, sex and relationships

It’s no surprise that our world seems scandalized by the biblical standards for God-centered relationships. However honest self examination of the body of Christ proves that we all find the standards for cross shaped love difficult to actively live out in all areas of our lives. Let’s look again at what the bible means when it says we love because Christ first loved us and apply that truth to our practice of love and relationships to those in and out of the faith.

Alycia Wood – If God Exists Why Isn't He More Obvious?

So often people assume that the reason why belief in God is so hard, is because God is so hidden. One then concludes that man’s rejection of God is because it’s impossible to find Him. Is that true? Through this talk we will see the beauty of God’s love for mankind and the depths He goes to let us know of it.

Tuesday

Andy Bannister - Why, Despite the Protests, We Can't Be Good Without God

Humanists and atheists are quick to proclaim that “You don’t need God to be good”. But is it quite as simple as that? What, after all, do we mean by words like “good” and “evil” and is it possible to use them meaningfully as an atheist. And, more profoundly, what happens we try to be good? Can we manage it consistently? If not, why not, and does the gospel offer any solutions for the fickleness of the human heart?

Nabeel Qureshi - The Gospel: A Firm Foundation for our Faith

The Gospel, that God loves us and has made a way for us through Jesus’ death and resurrection, is fantastic news for all who would receive it and believe. But those who do not yet accept the gospel often see it as a crutch for the weak or an ‘opiate for the masses.’ In this session we will consider the evidence for the Gospel, both in its original historical setting and its universal relevance to the human heart.

Nathan Betts - Signals of Transcendence: Awakening the Apathetic Soul to God

There are myriad arguments for God’s existence for the person who is seeking God. But what about the person who is not interested in God? What might compel them to ask questions? This seminar is going to explore different clues that point to God, clues that are indeed real, yet often not noticed. We are going to look at these everyday signposts-signals of transcendence- and discuss how the apathetic person might be awakened to God.

Fazale Rana - The Four Pillars of Design: Using Biochemistry to Construct a Modern-Day Design Argument for God’s Existence

Advances in biochemistry provide some of the most powerful evidences for God’s existence, allowing Christians to counter the evolutionary paradigm. Yet, in my experience, most Christian apologists fail to make the best use of these discoveries when they engage skeptics and seekers. This presentation will survey the different ways Christian apologists attempt to use biochemistry to make a case for the Creator and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches. Based on this ‘big-picture’ assessment, I will propose a ‘best practices’ strategy that will help both lay person and specialist alike make a credible and effective case for the Creator.

This session is designed for people with either 1) a background in the life sciences; 2) some familiarity with Christian apologetics; or 3) some exposure to creation/evolution issues. Attendees will become better equipped to formulate effective arguments for God’s existence, using the remarkable features of the cell’s chemistry.

Nathan Rittenhouse - The Fall, Futility, and New Creation

Ecclesiastes’ introductory assertion that ‘everything is meaningless’ deeply resonates with the way many people experience life. Paul wrote that all of creation has been subjected to futility and groans with the expectation of something yet to come. The human experiences of futility and frustration permeate all categories of our lives, but are fortunately only part of our story. This talk explores the Christian belief that gives us hope in the midst of chaos, and challenges us to follow the one who claims to make “all things new.”

Wednesday

Andy Bannister - Why Faith in God Is Not Like Belief in Santa Claus

A common claim one hears is that faith in God is like belief in Santa Claus, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the tooth fairy etc. The idea is that religious believers are deluded, infantile, needing to grow up and embrace evidence like atheists do. But is God comparable to Santa Claus? If not, why not? How does faith work? And, for that matter, do atheists have faith and could atheism even be called a religion?

Nathan Betts - God and the Spaghetti Monster: Why Good Theology Leads to Effective Evangelism

The atheist Richard Dawkins famously wrote, “I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.” Dawkins’ statement demonstrates a faulty understanding of who the Christian God is. This seminar is going to take a big-picture look at who God is and illustrate how effective evangelism begins with good theology. If you get God wrong, you will inevitably get evangelism wrong.

Michael Licona - The Historical Case for Jesus’ Resurrection

In our post-Christian culture, non-Christians need reasons for believing Christianity is true before embracing it. Scientific evidence for a Designer of the universe and intelligent life suggests theism, but cannot confirm a specific form of it. However, the historical data strongly suggests that Jesus rose from the dead, validating His personal claims and message.

Cameron McAllister - Discipleship Evangelism

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)” Despite Christ’s clear words, discipleship (the active pursuit of Christlikeness) is often regarded as an expendable feature of Christianity, an undertaking reserved mainly for mystics, ascetics, and “Super Christians.” Instead, North American Evangelicals often focus on personal salvation, which is commonly expressed as “asking Jesus into your heart.” As practical as this emphasis on a one-time decision for Christ may sound, it often leaves the person unsure of how to live now, leading to the eventual conclusion that Christianity has little bearing on our daily lives. This elective is a practical exploration of how our obedience to Christ allows us to step into eternal life now, live as transformed men and women in a fallen world, and fulfill Christ’s clear command to “make disciples of all the nations.”

Michael Suderman - Embracing Commitment in a Culture of Convenience

What does it mean to live in absolute surrender to Jesus in a culture that glorifies self-preferential autonomy? What hurdles exist in our culture as obstacles to the life surrender that the love of God merits? How does complete commitment to a life of radical obedience under the Lordship of Jesus lead to human flourishing and ultimate fulfillment? This talk will consider the cost of discipleship and the role of commitment in following Christ.

Thursday

Jill Carattini - Holding What We Believe

Jesus came into the world eating and drinking; he created fellowship wherever he was. “Behold I stand at the door and knock: if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you with me.” His eating and drinking with people is one of the things that is remembered in the gospels as quite distinctive; even some of his friends were embarrassed about it. He also left us with instructions to remember him with a meal–in bread and wine placed in our hands. In this elective, we will consider the gift of the Lord’s Supper as a profound invitation to see, hear, touch, smell, taste, and hold what we believe–and in turn, how our holding and consuming the body of Christ moves us into the world with the practical hospitality of Christ.

Shawn Hart - Crossing Cultural Boundaries with the Gospel of Grace

Christianity is often viewed as a “western religion”, but throughout history the Gospel is the good news that has crossed into many diverse cultures. Communicating what we believe in a familiar culture can be challenging, but not as challenging as when we find ourselves in an unfamiliar environment. Whether in the workplace, a super bowl party, or in another country, the Gospel remains true and relevant. However, before we communicate the gospel we need to understand the cultural soil we are casting seeds into. In this elective we will work to identify major cultural characteristics, consider the core aspects of the gospel that makes it relevant to every culture, and strive to communicate these truths regardless of where we find ourselves.

Michael Licona - Why Do the Gospels Have Differences?

The most frequent objection to the historically reliability of the Gospels is the alleged contradictions in them. In this elective, we will better understand how ancient literature was written and discuss some fascinating insights pertaining to how ancient literary devices often resulted in the types of discrepancies we observe in the Gospels.

Nathan Rittenhouse - From ISIS to Jesus: Meta-narratives of conquest and hope

Our post-modern world has been struggling to rationalize the appeal that ISIS has to gain new followers. Why would anyone join such a group? It has been suggested that the attempt to reestablish a caliphate parallels a common theme in human stories; the search for ultimate power and the return of a long-awaited king who calls us to participate in his righteous cause. Jesus uses similar language, but includes a profound twist that is the foundation of legitimate human hope.

Margaret Manning Shull - This We Believe: Doctrine as the Christian Story

Why does doctrine matter? Theology is faith seeking understanding. It is the living story of what Christians believe about the Triune God, the embodied drama of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the life of faith in the Christian community. The earliest creeds and confessions of the Church present doctrine in this way, as faith seeking understanding so that Christian believers and Church teaching might give witness to that faith in the world. Why does doctrine matter? It matters because it is the framework that tells the Christian story, providing grace and substance for Christian witness in the world.