Over 3,500 Attend U of M Open Forum, Event Makes Front Page of The Michigan Daily

Posted by Ruth Malhotra on February 8, 2017
Topic: Blog

Over 3,500 packed the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium Tuesday night, February 7, for RZIM’s open forum on the topic “What Does It Mean To Be Human?” featuring Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray.

Abu addresses students at his alma mater.

Abdu addresses students at his alma mater.

University administrators — who had been largely skeptical that a “religious program” would draw a large crowd – were stunned by the attendance in this venue that is typically reserved for concerts and other entertainment performances. The event was hosted by Cru, and the in-person audience was primarily comprised of U of M students representing a diverse cross-section of the campus from a range of worldviews. Despite the cold, rainy weather, students had begun lining up outside the venue over two hours before the event, with lines wrapping around the building.

The live stream had people tuning in from around the world, and we received comments from those watching in the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and across the U.S.  

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Ravi and Abdu answering questions from student.

“This is what civil, intellectual pursuit of ultimate truth and reality looks like at american universities,” commented Eddie Johnson on Facebook. “So refreshing to see college students pursue truth. Praise God.” Iris Griffiths added, “What a great turnout! Some very bright, keen minds with great questions. Very impressed with how respectful each student was in addressing Abdu and Ravi.”

This morning, The Michigan Daily featured RZIM’s open forum on the front page. Read an excerpt from the article below.

Tonight (Wednesday, February 8) Ravi and Abdu head to Michigan State University for an open forum at the Breslin Center. If you’re in the area, join us (details here) or watch the live stream on rzim.org/live starting at 7:30 PM EST.  Please pray for the RZIM team and for Ravi and Abdu as they present the topic “A Post Mortem on the Post Truth Culture” and engage in an extended Q&A session with the students.

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Abdu on the front page of The Michigan Daily.

“What does it mean to be human? More than 3,500 students and Ann Arbor residents filled Hill Auditorium on Tuesday night to grapple with this very question and listen to Christian apologist writers Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray discuss questions of value, morality and human worth in the context of a Christian faith.

Christian apologetics is a branch of Christian theology that uses historical evidence, philosophical reasoning, as well of other forms of academic inquiry to defend the religion against criticism. One of the speakers, Zacharias, is the founder of the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries based in Toronto, which promotes this school of thought. Murray serves as the North American director of these ministries.

Sponsored by Christian student organization Michigan Cru, the event was centered on the idea that humans are not collections of random atoms, but replete with intrinsic worth provided by God. The presenters believe in the modern loss of self-worth, and how humans derive their value from others, rather than from Christianity.

Murray discussed the importance of the “Golden Rule,” the concept that rather than treating others kindly because of a selfish desire for reciprocal kindness, humans should empathize with all humans and foster relationships bound by love.

‘I want to leave you with that,” he said. “Because if we take in that message, and live as somebody else, regardless of their beliefs, regardless of their creeds, regardless of their backgrounds, regardless of their ethnicities, if we can take in that message and live like that, then maybe our correct idea of what it means to be human will ultimately be restored.'”

Read the entire article by Kaela Theut, Daily Staff Reporter, on The Michigan Daily.

Students line up outside the venue at the University of Michigan to hear Ravi and Abdu speak.

Students excitedly doing the wave as the wait for the event to kick off.

Students excitedly doing the wave as they wait for the event to kick off.