Students across the Univeristy have been pidged as part of a new campaign of talks and events hosted by The Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (ICCU) entitled ‘This is Jesus’.
ICCU President Robbie Strachan said: “This is Jesus will be one of the biggest events put on by the Christian Union in recent years.” The society says it wants to provide every student in the University with an opportunity to engage with the person and concept of Jesus. The ICCU claims the events will involve “no catches, no pressure, no religion: Just Jesus.”
The society says it is aware that many students in this University believe Jesus to be “extraneous” and think that the Bible is outdated or that Christianity is some kind of “spiritual crutch”.
The ICCU will run events from Monday through to Saturday in the afternoons and evenings, featuring topics such as whether God is necessary in daily life, whether religion is judgmental and whether religion is restrictive of freedom. The Saturday event will culminate in a discussion panel.
Individual College Christian Unions will also be running events over the course of the next two weeks, including an ‘Email-a-pancake’ event at University College this week. In return for emailing in questions about Christianity students were given a pancake – and a copy of St. John’s Gospel.
But Dr Daniel Came, of St Hugh’s, said: “I think that both evangelical Christians and evangelical atheists à la Richard Dawkins are altogether too bold in thinking that they know that God does or does not exist. It seems to me that we are all of us profoundly ignorant as to whether or not God exists. I don’t think we can know if theism or atheism is true. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make a judgment about which is more probable.
“Overall, I think that, because of the existence of evil in the world, it is much more likely that God does not exist. That is, for my part at least, the existence of things like tsunamis, gas chambers, and my ex-wife make it very difficult for me to believe,” Came added.
Benjamin Krishna, Chair of Oxford Atheists, Secularists and Humanists (OxASH) commented: “I am sure that if you are interested in these topics you will enjoy the events; though I think most people in Oxford have grown up learning about Jesus and Christianity and so know enough already to make informed choices. Evangelising is a major aspect of Christianity and so can only really be expected at mission week, though in my opinion evangelical Christianity is lost on a sceptical British public.”
A second-year at St Hugh’s commented: “I think they’re probably useful and might appeal to agnostics. Personally, I’m too busy with work to think about religion and therefore wouldn’t go.”
A Corpus Christi fresher said: “I guess this will be one of those philosophical experiences to broaden our minds … If I find the time, I’ll give it a go, as long as we’re not being preached at!”
In a recent survey carried out by ICCU on Cornmarket and in colleges, around 70% of students surveyed considered Jesus to be in some way relevant in Oxford.
But not all students were so convinced that a strong Christian presence was such a good thing: 17% of those surveyed thought that the Christian Union could accurately be described as ‘obnoxious’, ‘arrogant’ or ‘unfortunate’ .