Christ 101: The Evidence for Christianity is an apologetics course that might be used for a group but is ideal for self-study. The course consists of a 208-page study manual and a set of 10 DVDs with 28 lessons in all. On online option is also available
The course addresses the arguments about who Jesus Christ is (and was), the events of his life, and his teaching. Sullivan’s contention is that faith and reason are not contradictory, and faith is actually supported by reason. He introduces the course with preliminary lessons on the “problem of happiness” and whether or not religion can help solve that problem. He then lays some groundwork with discussion about faith, reason, logic, and argumentation before he gets into the specific arguments related to Jesus. (The topic is necessarily narrow; Sullivan is not addressing all of the topics of Christian apologetics.)
The DVDs are the most important part of the course. You can purchase the set of DVDs or you can access them online (lifetime access). The study manual follows along with the DVDs, outlining and repeating much of the information from the DVDs. However, the study manual does not make clear distinctions of where each presentation stops. It is divided into eight sections that group a number of DVD presentations within each section. This is a little irritating, but it is not a huge issue. I marked the beginning of each session in my study manual as a watched the DVDs to make it easier to correlate the study manual with the DVDs. (Note: If you select the online option, you receive a downloadable PDF version of the study manual, but you get a print edition if you order the set of DVDs. Print study manuals are available for $19.95 each.)
The eight sections of the study manual give you a sense of the course content. These are:
- What Difference Does it Make?
- Truth, Faith and Argumentation: Modern Myths Exposed
- The Historical Data: How Can We Really Know Anything about Jesus?
- The Trilemma Argument from Christ’s Character
- The Argument from Prophecy
- The Argument from Resurrection
- The Christian Wager: How Will You Bet Your Life?
The DVD lessons include man on the street interviews and commentary from leading Scripture scholars such as Scott Hahn, Michael Licona, Peter Kreeft, Fr. Ronald Tacelli, and Craig Blomberg. Video lessons sometimes include snippets of video of speakers such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins representing antithetical viewpoints. The production quality for these portions of the course are outstanding.
The bulk of each video lesson is a lecture by Christian philosopher Dr. Scott M. Sullivan. Sullivan occasionally uses a whiteboard as he speaks from a podium. The video editors include some graphic overlays for important points. Two cameras were used for the filming, one in color and one in black-and-white. It’s a little disconcerting at first, but in the end I think it makes it a little more interesting. Video lessons vary in length. I would estimate that some are as short as 20 minutes while most run about 30 minutes or longer.
Sullivan also teaches logic courses, so he naturally takes a very logical approach in this course. One of the early lessons, “Truth, Faith, and Argumentation: Modern Myths Exposed,” explains some basic logical concepts that are foundational to the discussion—concepts like the law of noncontradiction and the correspondence theory of truth. (Although it would be helpful, students need not have taken a logic course before tackling Christ 101.) The entire course works through each point with logical arguments, quoting often from great Christian thinkers who are known for their grasp of logic, especially Blaise Pascal, Thomas Aquinas, and John Henry Newman. Sullivan draws from both Protestant and Catholic sources (as well as non-Christian historical sources) and the result is a course that should be useful for all Christians, but most especially those who gravitate toward a classical, western-civilization outlook. However, the detailed arguments are likely to appeal most to those who really want to understand the logical support for Christianity.
Sullivan is obviously passionate about his topic, and it comes across in his tone of voice. A sub-subtitle for the course, “The Complete Politically Incorrect Guide to Defending the Christian Faith Using Reason and Evidence,” gives a hint of this. Even so, Sullivan does NOT get into political rants and is not at all offensive in his presentation. Rather, he stresses the logic of the arguments that support Christian beliefs. He simultaneously addresses the arguments of those who take opposing positions. He doesn’t have the polish of an experienced public speaker; the videos feel very much like listening to a college professor in a classroom, and this is reinforced by the classroom-type setting of the video.
The study manual has questions at the end of each section that primarily test for comprehension rather than stimulate discussion. The addition of discussion questions would make the course better for group classes. Footnotes in the study manual identify sources, but they often expand topics with further explanation that is very helpful.
The course seems targeted at college students and adults, but it should also work for motivated high school students as well. It is very easy to use since there’s no flipping around in the book.
If a student is new to the study of apologetics, the course might seem very challenging since there is so much information to absorb. In such cases, I would still use the course but take it much more slowly, perhaps spending a year on it. In my opinion, high school students could receive credit for a one-semester course, although you could easily expand it to a full-year credit by having students write extensive answers to the questions, adding some discussion time, and having them write a research paper.
The goal of this course is to equip Christians—whether Catholic or Protestant—with an understanding of the arguments that support their belief in Jesus Christ. While a number of books have been written on this topic, Christ 101 is one of the few video treatments available that really goes into depth on the topic. I really appreciate the fact that this is a course that can easily be tackled by beginners, yet it takes them far beyond a beginner's level by its conclusion.and having them write a research paper.
The goal of this course is to equip Christians—whether Catholic or Protestant—with an understanding of the arguments that support their belief in Jesus Christ. While a number of books have been written on this topic, Christ 101 is one of the few video treatments available that really goes into depth on the topic. I really appreciate the fact that this is a course that can easily be tackled by beginners, yet it takes them far beyond a beginner's level by its conclusion.