My wife and I attended the Thrive apologetics Conference in Sacramento this weekend and really enjoyed ourselves. The topics included, but were not limited to:
Staying Christian in College.
Why God Allows Evil
Intelligent Design 101
Can the Bible be Trusted
Inside the Mind of a Former Atheist
Crusades, Slavery, and the Oppression of Women
Islam Explained:Understanding the Basics of Muslim Faith
The night before the conference, my wife and I also attended an apologetic meeting near the conference. The Reasons To Believe Sacramento group meets every month; they are supported by and associated with Reasons To Believe. A great group of folks who enjoy seeking truth and answers in science and how it confirms God’s word. I only wish we lived closer, because it will not be possible to attend these meetings since we live 3 hours away.
What is apologetics? Simply put, apologetics is defending your faith, not apologizing for it. 😉 A few of the speakers were Lee Strobel, Greg Koukl, Dr. J.P. Moreland, and Dr. Craig Hazen. I particularly enjoyed J.P. Moreland and Dr. Craig Hazen in the general sessions. If you don’t walk in the apologetic circles, you may not have heard of these guys, but suffice to say they are some of the heavy hitters in apologetics. You could liken it to a list of top Basket Ball players such as, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal. If I remember correctly, I think they said they would try to do another apologetics conference in 18 months. If so, I will make a point to attend that one, and drag as many friends and family as are willing.
Inside the Mind of a Former Atheist was one session I attended, given by Dr. Holly Ordway. She explained she was the college professor you DID NOT WANT your children to have. Christians to her were ignorant, stupid, and naive to the world around them. She shared her story and explained how she came to Christ, giving much of the credit to her fencing coach, who was respectful to her decision to be an atheist. He was thoughtful when she would ask him questions about his faith, and when he did not have an answer he would admit it, and tell her he would find an answer, which he did. This is important, because the answers are there for the questions an atheist might ask. Don’t fake it. Tell them you don’t know, but you will find out.
Several of the speakers mentioned noticing a surge of interest in apologetics within the last few years, and they were all pleased, even amazed, to see packed rooms. Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator said, “Ten years ago we would never have seen attendance like this.” My pastor, Dennis Ortmann, also attended, and said he was surprised how many were in attendance. This Sunday morning he said he was expecting around, “Five hundred egg heads or so.” I had not given it much thought, having never been to an apologetics conference before, but my guess would have been in the hundreds also. I would have expected the average age to be 50 plus, with the majority having pens in their pockets, (with the pocket protector), glasses on their nose, and having a wrinkly disheveled look of a professor out of his comfortable element, which would be his lab. In my last session I attended, titled Why God Allows Evil, I arrived 10 minutes early and all the seats were already taken, so I had to sit on the floor in the back. I believe all the sessions were standing room only with people crammed in the doorway. I know this happened in every single class I attended. I heard over 6000 people attended this apologetics conference, and the ages ranged from Jr. High to elderly. A very large piece of the pie were high school and college age students. In one of the general sessions, I sat just in front of a row of college students from Sacramento State. In one of the classes, I sat next to a young lady named Melody in her early 20’s, who is a nurse in the U.S. Air Force. She was going to deploy in two weeks to Afghanistan. I asked her why she was here, and she said she wanted to know how to respond to the men she cared for when they asked questions about her faith.
It is obvious our current culture of relativity is not satisfying all the youth of today; they are hungry for answers, and are thinking beyond the shallow, supposed truth statements the world gives them. The culture tells them truth is relative, all religions are true, there is no God, and that Jesus was just a great moral teacher. They are learning how to respond to these statements and many more. How would you respond to someone that says truth is relative? In other words, what they are saying is, “What is true for you may not be true for me”. What if someone said there is no God? What examples could you give them that point them toward the existence of God? You could throw some Bible verses at them, but what would be the point? If they don’t believe in God, they certainly are not going to believe Jesus is the Son of God and the Bible is the Word of God. What if someone pointed out the Bible verses that seemed to contradict each other? For example, Matthew tells of one angel at the tomb, but John says there were two angels. Or what if someone pointed out to you Christians don’t even have the original manuscripts of the New Testament any more, and Christians only have copies that have been changed over the centuries so many times they can’t be trusted. These are just a few examples of questions our children could be asked. Do you have the answers? I will be the first to admit that until this year, I did not have answers to those questions, but thankfully I do now. I see the importance of having the answers, because when our children attend universities they will encounter difficult questions by intelligent and articulate students and professors. Students who are raised in Christian homes are walking away from their faith in droves as they attend secular colleges because they are not prepared to answer some simple questions about their faith.
I personally am pleased to find a wealth of resources as I study and read about apologetics. My journey into apologetics has only been in the past year, but to just say I have had an interest in it would be a understatement. I am reading something every day, if not on the Internet, then a new book on apologetics I have picked up. This web site is an outlet for me as I try to use and apply what I am learning so I can share with others. I try to keep my posts under two pages because many people don’t have the time, or inclination, to read long articles, or books on a particular topic. This works out well because my understanding of the topics are quite limited, and unlike others with the gift of gab or the gift of pen, I don’t write a lot. This morning at church, someone said to me they might enjoy apologetics more, but it was so intellectual and philosophical. I replied apologetics can be like that, but it does not have to be. Some of the arguments for God are quite simple, but very profound. Over time, I hope this site/blog will be of service to those who seek answers to questions about their faith, and as people ask me questions, we will learn together.