I experienced Christ in class today.
I am taking a class called “The History of Christianity.” It’s a class about… well… the history of Christianity. We are basically tracking the historical progression from the Book of Acts to today. It’s going to be really cool. I’m very excited.
But something truly awesome happened in there today.
I was a little worried about the class because at my college, the theological, historical, and philosophical perspectives of Christ and faith and God and all those sorts of things tends to be all over the place. Having never had this professor before, I had no idea what his stance was on any type of faith topic. The first day of class didn’t really toss me any bones as to what his true view was. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing— I don’t need Billy Graham teaching my class. But if it’s going to be someone who takes a different view than me, or says things that simply aren’t biblically, theologically, and/or historically correct, obviously that’s going to be something I’m going to have to work through. Today, we began our lecture.
My professor explained the origins of ancient Judaism. He explained how Judaism is unlike almost all world religions in that the religion is not dependent on the person, rather, it is dependent on the deity— Yahweh. We talked about sacrifices and Abraham and Moses and Psalms and all sorts of things. Then, he essentially drew the parallel and symbolism together of Jesus and why the New Testament possesses the characteristics that it does— because it’s a fulfillment of the Old Testament (which I literally have a podcast about— quick plug). And then came the best part of any lecture I’ve ever gotten in a little over 3 semesters in college.
This is not the exact quote, but here’s what was said, basically:
“Christianity is rooted in historical fact. If there was no Pontius Pilate, if there was no crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, find another religion.”
I was shocked. My heart began to drop. I was fully expecting there to be some disclaimer, like there always is at this school, and in the world. “Well, Christians believe… some scholars have suggested… if that’s what you believe… I’m not taking a side, I’m just saying…” That’s what I hear a lot.
But as sure as the sun rises and the Son rose, Christ entered the conversation in a big way. My professor then proceeded to make a 30 minute case that the Historical Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, who was and is the Messiah, was an undeniable, historical fact. To hear reiterated by someone far more intelligent and qualified, in a place where things like this are dismissed, everything I’ve learned and thought is truly an intellectually (and more importantly spiritually) overwhelming moment. Cooper, I think you are taking this a little too far. I’m not, though. I essentially heard the Gospel today in a history class— in a college classroom. And I don’t go to Liberty, folks. This isn’t a normal thing. This isn’t an expected thing. I heard one the best (don’t sue me, Lee Strobel) cases for Christ I’ve ever heard. And it was literally in a classroom.
My professor proved to the class, beyond a shadow of a doubt, with all the evidence to support and none to disprove, that Jesus did exactly what He said He was going to do. The most ridiculous and outlandish claim made in the entire Bible is that someone would die and come back to life. And it is irrefutably and 100,000,000% true. And I knew that. But I felt as if somehow only I knew that. I feel sometimes, here at school, that I’m on an island with Jesus, that what I think is true may be wrong because maybe I’m the only one that thinks that. Well, I’m here to let you know there are people out here, even in the most God-less of all institutions (the University System), that are still fighting the good fight.
Unashamed to admit this, I will tell you that I had to hold back tears from running down my face in that moment that I realized that being an intellectual and a follower of Christ can meet in a history class. I had to hold back tears because I was overwhelmed at all of the pieces coming together right in front of my eyes. I’m so tired of having to listen to fallacies of the Gospel or false claims made against and about Jesus. I’m so tired of having to re-learn what I know, or ignore what I learn for tests just to pass classes. To have my faith affirmed in such a way as that was truly humbling. To hear every point he made and have it enter my thoughts and get a little “check— I knew that” was incredible. This is all seemingly very dramatic. I recognize that. You may not care. I get it.
But seriously? Praise be to the God above. The kids in my class know for certain that Christ is exactly and undoubtedly who He said He is.
That is a massive win for the Church.
So, to that: thank you, Dr. Richard Heiser, for being a man of spiritual, ethical, and intellectual integrity. I don’t know where your heart is. I have a good guess. I do know where your stance is. And it made mine— and Ours— that much more potent.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Glory— oh extravagant and wondrous Glory– to God alone.