Southwestern conference trains students to confront culture with Gospel
The Southwestern Apologetics Conference, hosted at Southwestern Seminary from Sept. 18-22, prepared nearly 1,100 people to take on challenges to the Christian faith in the modern world, such as evolution, pluralism and fear.
“This conference bolstered Southwestern Seminary’s efforts to provide a strategic location for evangelical students to study the philosophy of religion,” said Adam Groza, conference organizer and assistant director of The Smith Center for Leadership Development. Groza also reported that 10 people received Christ during the week.
The conference featured key figures in the field of apologetics such as Dr. William A. Dembski, research professor of philosophy at Southwestern Seminary and a leading proponent of Intelligent Design, Dr. Kelly James Clark, professor of philosophy at Calvin College, and Rev. Justin Peters, staff evangelist at First Baptist Church of Vicksburg, Miss. and a major critic of the Word of Faith movement.
Dr. Emir Caner, dean of The College at Southwestern, discussed the relationship between Islam and Christianity, laying out 10 facts that Christians should know about Islam. Caner, who was raised in a strict Muslim home, also described his salvation testimony.
“I was raised to be a good Muslim, until the best technique in the world for witnessing came to me. Confrontational evangelism: It was and is the best technique,” Caner said. “It is your persistence, your care, your compassion, your not-giving-up on someone who is Muslim no matter what they say and how they treat you that characterizes effective evangelism.”
Kirk Cameron, co-host of the “Way of the Master” television series and former teen star of the award-winning television series “Growing Pains,” spoke during the conference’s Youth Apologetics Night, Sept. 19. He was joined by Christian illusionist Brock Gill and the David Parker Band.
Cameron told conferees that the “tragedy of modern evangelism” is that the church tries to bring people to Jesus by “the promise of life enhancement. The gospel degenerated into, ‘Jesus Christ will give you love, joy, peace, fulfillment and lasting happiness.’”
In response to this message, people come to Jesus with an “experimental” attitude in order to see if the gospel is really true, Cameron said. Rather than finding this promised happiness, these people find “temptation, tribulation and persecution.” With these results, people become bitter and leave the faith.
“It’s sad that we have literally millions of professing Christians who lose their joy and peace when the flight gets bumpy. Why? They are the product of a man-centered gospel,” Cameron said.
“Peace and joy are legitimate fruits of salvation,” Cameron added, but they cannot be used in order to draw people to Christ. People can only find peace with God if they come to Him in repentance, realizing their sinfulness before God, he said. For this reason, Cameron encouraged conferees to help people realize how they have broken the law of God when they share the gospel with them.
“Once you understand that you have violated the law, the good news truly becomes Good News,” he said. The law of God shows people their guilt before God. It is important, however, to realize that it cannot clean up a person’s life, he added.
“The law of God is like a mirror that is showing us that we are filthy, dirty, and it sends us to the blood of Jesus Christ that can wash those sins away,” Cameron said. “We are not saved by the law; we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The law doesn’t help us; it just leaves us helpless. It doesn’t justify us; it just leaves us guilty before a holy God and sends us to the cross.”
Cameron also spoke during chapel at Southwestern Seminary on Sept 20, where he encouraged seminarians to pursue spiritual fitness through evangelism.
“Here is the bottom line: All of the theology that you and I know … will do us no good if it stays right here,” Cameron said. “So many sitting in seminaries have become theologically obese because they don’t burn any calories in evangelism. Take what you know and find an outlet.”
Archived Flash Media and MP3 recordings of this chapel sermon can be viewed, listened to or downloaded through the seminary’s Web site, www.swbts.edu.