Regarding the first century spread of Christianity, here's a scripture from Acts [Acts is the "authorized" history of the new Christian faith]:
"Now the latter were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." 17:11
We look for the same today. You want people that are "noble-minded," not like they were in Thessalonica, where the disciples were run out of town. Noble-minded.....people who are open, who are searching, who don't assume they already know everything. Noble-minded, yes, but note....not gullible, for they "carefully examin[ed] the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." They never had to take a "leap of faith" They carefully examined evidence already in existence.
In some places, that still is all that is needed....to "carefully examin[e] the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so." But in our part of the world, it's not always enough, since learned society invests much time in trashing authority of "the scriptures." So you have to reestablish that authority before you get some folk to benefit from examining scriptures. Often you have to reestablish that authority before you even get them to agree to make the examination.
This is not an insurmountable task, but it is an extra step. Several publications of Jehovah's Witnesses are devoted entirely to this purpose....considering the Bible via several lines of evidence to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that it is what it claims to be....God's message for our benefit.
Can't you just uncover such evidence within the university setting, since that's where people are smart? Oddly, no, for the upper echelons of human society are especially intent on denigrating matters pertaining to faith. Their motive? Essentially, they don't like conclusionsthe Bible points to and/or the personal responsibility it implies, and so they seek with all their might to undermine it. Since we operate within society, such dominant attitudes can rub off....in fact, they certainly will unless we do something to counteract the flood of Bible-trashing propaganda.
The Bible's promise of living forever on a transformed paradise earth attracts persons of humble backgrounds. But in western lands, educated folk smile knowingly and dismiss the idea as a fairy tale. They are too clever to believe in fairy tales. Thus, this friendly fellow I trade letters with, let's call him Dan, declared he would not check into such a notion because a) he would not know how to check, and b) he feared it would be a waste of his time since c.) it struck him as a big fantasy.
Well, of course it would! Trust me, I would look askance were he, with his background, to say "This is great! Where do I sign up?!" No, it strikes him as a fantasy, as should be expected. However it will also strike him, hopefully, as an appealing fantasy.
Now, if checking into it called for some outlandish allotment of time, you would reasonably expect a person to pass. Ditto if it were expensive. Why waste time and money on a likely "fantasy?" Would that not be naive? But if checking was fast and cheap, then what's the hang-up? If it truly is fantasy, the one sharing it is the naive one, not the recipient, since the sharer does so free of charge.
Jehovah's Witnesses' signature offer is a program of home Bible study. It's free. It's an hour or so per week. And since folks here have usually not heard of the "live forever on earth" promise....well, that's why we visit people, even though some (many?) wish we would not. It’s a model as old as time: if you have something worthwhile, you must tell people about it. They rarely come to you. At any rate, the home Bible study is a viable way to check into it. It may be the only way. It certainly is the most direct.
Strangely, if the program was offered at the university, and if people had to pay a fortune for it, and devote much time, and if they could earn a degree in it, it would be enormously popular. But, as it is, who offers this program? Clods, bumpkins, Jehovah's Witnesses! What could they possibly know?
So people take odd consolation in modern day "prophets" such as Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-February 28, 2007), who writes: "..........because all important problems are insoluble: that is why they are important. The good comes from the continuing struggle to try and solve them, not from the vain hope of their solution."
If someone as smart as he says problems are insoluble, well, then they must be. And if another claims to have found a solution.....what, they're smarter than Mr. Schlesinger, are they? What degrees from what universities do they hold? All the more so if they come from some unsophisticated camp like Jehovah's Witnesses!
But one must be discerning and consider the nature of Christianity, which was historically a movement of the common folk....carpenters, fishermen, not the upper classes. For example:
For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are... 1 Cor: 26-28
And when the apostles were summoned before the Sanhedrin (religious leaders of the day): "Now when they beheld the outspokenness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were men unlettered and ordinary, they got to wondering. And they began to recognize about them that they used to be with Jesus." Acts 4:13
In other words, the common folk had the answers back then, not the sophisticated ones.
In time, the upper classes hijacked Christianity. They found a way to make a buck off it. They found a way to surround it with social prestige and influence. But they so changed Christianity in doing so that it became unrecognizable, worlds apart from what Jesus taught, fully capable of acting contrary to his teachings. That is why Sam Harriscan latch onto religious conduct as raw material for his doctrine.