Christian Union

Christianity teaches the supremacy of one God in the form of the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Christians believe that God created humans in an amazing way and in a unique and amazing relationship with Him. The fall of man means that all humans are sinful, and because of their disobedience and disregard for God, deserve to be punished and to receive God’s ultimate judgement. God devised a way for humans to be brought back into a relationship with him by sending Jesus, to die on a cross and absolve our sins by taking the punishment that we deserve. Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, and that he died from Crucifixion, was buried, and rose to rule and reign with God the Father. Jesus will return to judge all humans, and those who call out to God and ask for forgiveness and help from him will receive life as he originally intended. Jesus was raised back to life giving us certainty that we can trust in his death and promising us that, just as he was raised, we will also rise and one day be with him.

We talked to Paul Slater, Prayer Secretary, about being a Christian on campus, misconceptions about Christianity, and the responses from students to the Christian Union’s evangelistic efforts. Paul described the campus and British society as a secular place that focuses primarily on the power of the individual, ‘We live in a society which tells you, “You can believe what you want, whatever feels good for you”, where truth is relativised and you can believe what you want as long as it doesn’t affect others around you.’ He describes this belief as at odds with the core message of Christianity that Jesus is the only way we can come to God, who we will all one day stand before and have to give an account for the life we’ve lived.

The Christian Union aims to fight against the prevalent apathy on campus and to give people the opportunity to examine Christianity as a truth claim, ‘if we look at some of the claims that Christianity makes, apathy is not an option. C.S. Lewis once wrote “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” We aim to encourage people to look into it to discover whether it is true.’ The CU emphasised that whilst many people view Christianity as merely a cultural force, simply attending church or growing up in a Christian family does not make someone a Christian; instead they challenge each individual to make a personal commitment to accept or reject Jesus Christ.

We discussed other misconceptions about Christianity, ‘People think that Christianity is a religion where they are to do certain things and not do others in order to be “good enough” for God. However, we believe that by ourselves we can never be good enough. In fact even the good things we do are still like presenting rags before a perfect God. We need someone to take away our failings and to be able to present us to God without fault. God has done this for us! He did this by sending his Son to die on a cross in our place. Our response is to put our faith in Him and not in our own efforts.’

As the CU primarily exists for evangelistic purposes, they have encountered some opposition on campus, ‘Some people don’t think it’s fair for us to tell people about Jesus as they think people should be left to themselves to investigate it. However, we have such an important message that we cannot simply hope that they will come to ask to ask questions, so we have to actively go out to tell the good news.’ Paul points out that the history of Christianity and the Bible, suggests that opposition should be expected, and that many Christians in the world receive extreme versions of opposition and even persecution, ‘In addition the message we proclaim is actually very offensive with the exclusivity of Jesus, the stressed message of “repentance” and the consequences for those who do not.’ The CU’s biggest challenge, he says, is not opposition, but the difficulty in getting a reaction to their message.

In a diverse campus students of every faith encounter others with different goals and ideologies and Paul emphasises the need for tolerance through communication, ‘I think we need to be honest and patient with each other. I think we should talk and listen to each other, rather than assuming we know exactly what someone’s beliefs are. I think there is a need for humility, but also sometimes a place to challenge each other’s thinking. I don’t think it’s ever beneficial to fight or argue, but debating and discussing can be very helpful!’

### Vitals

– **President:** David Brake

– **Membership:** Around 100 members attend main meetings although many more attend other events

– **Aims:** The Christian Union exists to facilitate telling the good news about Jesus Christ to the campus. This happens in a number of ways. The main meetings are aimed at Christian students with the vision of encouraging and equipping them to tell this good news to their friends and course mates. The CU aims to provide a supportive community to help Christian students to glorify God in all ways, whether that should be through work, sport or leisure.It does not aim to be a substitute for attending a church, but aims to provide opportunities for local churches to join together in a unique way to effectively spread this good news about Jesus to the university campus. They believe that students should belong first and foremost to a church, and then, from their church, be sent out to the CU in order to tell others about Jesus.

– **Events:** As well as main meetings, the CU organises smaller bible study groups and meetings which specifically target international students. They also organise events aimed at introducing non-members to the figure of Jesus, his life and his works. These events range from weekly lunch-bars where an external speaker discusses a particular issue to last week’s Mission Week, an annual evangelistic event which consists of a series of talks, discussions and other events.


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