Events in Texas Through April

Posted by Bethan Adams on March 31, 2017
Topic: Blog

The RZIM team is speaking at multiple events in Texas this week and next. See the schedules for events in the Amarillo area and read the piece published in the Amarillo Globe-News below, featuring Abdu Murray’s personal story. For events upcoming in Austin next week, visit austinthinkweek.org.

To Give An Answer: Apologetics series comes to Amarillo

“It was during his college years at the University of Michigan that Abdu Murray, then a Muslim, let two Baptists set foot into his apartment for a discussion of faith.

But these Baptists, Dave and Pete, were somehow different than the Christians Murray usually argued with.

“They didn’t come to fulfill some sort of quota in terms of their missionary efforts, they actually listened to what I had to say, would thoughtfully think about it and respond to me,” said Murray.

Because of the “genuineness” of these Baptists, Dave and Pete, Murray said he started the process of researching the Christian faith and reading the Bible, which eventually led Murray to leaving his faith in Islam and turning to a faith in Jesus Christ of the Bible.

One year ago, Murray, now the North American Director for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, or RZIM, was at West Texas A&M University, debating his faith with Red McCall, a Christian-turned-Atheist and a past president of the Oklahoma Atheists.

Now he will be returning to Amarillo next week for the 2017 Apologetics Week in the Panhandle.

Apologetics is the reasoned discussion supporting religious doctrine. The week will challenge Christians to defend their faith in a respectful manner. There is also a mid-week invitation for non-Christians to bring questions they may have about Christian beliefs.

The series will be covered by a number of speakers from RZIM, including Murray and four recent graduates of the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics at Oxford University in Oxford, England.

While apologetics may be falsely seen as apologizing for one’s beliefs, Murray said, it should also steer clear of the dissenting argument to apologize for even beginning the conversation.

There are bad motivations; there are good motivations.

For Christians, Murray said the motivation for apologetics should be based off 1 Peter 3:15, among other scriptures.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” the passage in 1 Peter says.

“Questions don’t need answers, but people do,” Murray said. “That’s the fundamental mandate for the Christian to spread the hope.”

Murray said Ravi Zacharias, founder and president of RZIM, frequently shares a saying from his homeland of India which illustrates this approach to defending one’s faith or beliefs. There is also a saying quite similar in Arabic as well, he added.

“(Zacharias) says, ‘There’s no point in giving someone a rose after you’ve cut off their nose.’ Oftentimes, I think apologetics is used as a sword to cut down someone else,” said Murray. “They won’t be able to smell the sweet fragrance you’re offering them. So there are bad motivations. If it’s pride, it’s one of the worst motivations there is.”

It took nine years of research before Murray decided to convert to Christianity.

He said there came a point where he intellectually assented to the beliefs but choosing to have faith in those beliefs meant more than just believing they are credible.

“There’s a difference between intellectual assent and embracing the truth,” Murray said. “And embracing the truth means it’s going to change your life, it’s not just an intellectual or historical curiosity. What the (Christian) gospel says isn’t just ‘This is true, so you should acquiesce to it,’ it’s, ‘This is true and if you embrace it, it changes you.’”

Murray said embracing Christianity meant giving up his identity as Muslim and the pride he had in that identity. The best conversations Murray had with Christians were the ones who actually knew what they believed. “Tradition” was not an acceptable answer when he asked them why they were Christians, Murray said.

“Oftentimes people who have a nominal faith — where they just believe because, ‘Well, I’m supposed to; I’m a Presbyterian because I go to the Presbyterian church on Christmas and Easter’ — I don’t know if there’s conviction there,” Murray said.

Tradition, no matter if one is Christian, Muslim, Atheist or any other belief, cannot be a measure of truth, Murray said. In the Bible, he said God never says to believe him without any reason. But God does say to trust him, which is what Murray says is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.

Faith must be so much deeper than just tradition, family values or culture, he said.

“I love music and I go to concerts and I enjoy them, but my friend actually studied music composition and he is absolutely enraptured when he goes to a concert because he understands how music works. Why would we want to have a second rate faith? Instead of one that is so steeped within the reason for the hope we have within us, that we would deny ourselves that rapturous state?” asks Murray.

The pursuit of truth is what Murray said he hopes will bring both Christians and non-Christians alike to Apologetics Week in the Panhandle.

“Jesus said that the truth will set you free — and that’s an axiom,” Murray said. “Come and listen to what we have to offer and if it’s true, it’s worth believing, but if it’s false, then reject it. But come with an open mind.”

This article was originally published by Lauren Koski with Amarillo Globe-News on March 25. Click here to read on amarillo.com.

Amarillo Schedule:

March 31, 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Women’s Bible Study: “What Difference Does Christianity Make?”

Speaker: Daniel Rangel

First Christian Church, 3001 Wolflin Ave.

March 31, 12 p.m.

Men’s Study Group: “Why Does a Loving God Permit Evil and Suffering?”

Speaker: Daniel Rangel

First Presbyterian Church, 1100 S. Harrison St.

April 1, 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Youth Conference: Introduction to Apologetics; How to Disagree With Skeptics With a Smile; Can We Trust the Bible?

Speakers: Abdu Murray, Nathan Rittenhouse, Cameron McAllister and Daniel Rangel

First Presbyterian Church, 1100 S. Harrison St.

April 2, 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.

Sunday school classes: “Introduction to Apologetics”

Church service: “What Difference Does Christianity Make?”

Speaker: Nathan Rittenhouse

Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2525 Wimberly Dr.

April 2, 9:45 a.m.

Combined Sunday school classes: “Understanding the Allure of Atheism”

Speaker: Cameron McAllister

Trinity Baptist Church, 1601 I-40

April 2, 9 and 11 a.m.

Church services: “Can We Trust the Bible?”

Speaker: Daniel Rangel

Grace Church, 4111 Plains Blvd.