LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Has God really spoken?
That is the question a number of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professors addressed during the fourth annual Give Me an Answer Collegiate Conference on the Louisville, Ky., campus.
The conference, which focused this year on various aspects of God’s revelation in Scripture, drew more than 800 college students from 19 states and the District of Columbia, setting an attendance record.
“We wanted students to come with their questions about the Scriptures and to walk away having confirmed that they can be nothing other than the genuine Word of God,” said Scott Davis, director of admissions for Southern Seminary.
“I really think many college students are uncomfortable with the relativism that is all around. Dealing with this topic helps them as they process their own experience and also helps them know how to answer the questions the world around us has about our beliefs,” Davis said. “[They] leave feeling like they have learned something substantial … their view of God has been expanded, their love for the Word has grown….”
The Feb. 20-21 conference consisted of five general sessions —- including four with seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. — and 21 elective seminars. The elective seminars dealt with particular issues pertaining to the Bible, with topics ranging from the history of the inerrancy debate among Baptists to the Holy Spirit’s role in the writing of Scripture and its interpretation today.
Mohler told conference attendees that the most important question facing humanity is whether God makes Himself known to men and women.
“If God has not revealed Himself to us, and if He is hidden from us, then His existence is just as meaningless as if He did not exist,” Mohler said. “But if God has spoken, everything is fundamentally different. And if He has spoken in such a way that we can hear His voice and understand His mind … then all of life takes on a fundamentally different complexion and is established on a completely different foundation.
“If we are lost in space, if we are in the silent universe where no Creator speaks, then we are in absolute darkness and abysmal ignorance and we are, to quote the Apostle Paul, ‘of all men most to be pitied.’ But God has spoken. … He is a speaking God, and He identifies Himself as the God who speaks.”
Reactions to the conference among its attendees have always been positive and 2004 was no exception, David said.
Jared Meyer, for example, was pleased that the speakers tackled tough contemporary questions head-on. “I’ve enjoyed the conference because of its truthfulness,” said Meyer, a senior electrical engineering major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. “The professors have not sidestepped the hard questions but have actually attacked them, especially dealing with epistemology — how we know what we know.
“We have to know what we believe,” Meyer said, “because if we don’t, we’re lost in darkness just like any other religion. It is important that we be able to defend our faith because popular culture mostly denies any existence of truth.”
Dani Keith said the conference gave her more confidence in Scripture by helping her understand how the various parts of the Bible fit together in a way that consistently points to Christ.
Knowing the Bible’s unity, said Keith, a student at Lock Haven University in Lock Haven, Pa., “just gives me more confidence if I go back home and have to confront people and talk with them about this stuff. They ask me questions, and now I have more confidence because I know it all points back to Christ.”
Todd Higgs, a student at the University of Tennessee’s Martin branch, meanwhile, noted that the conference provided him with teaching on basic Christian truths not presented at his secular university.
The number of attendees contemplating a call to ministry was evidenced by the turnout of nearly 100 students who attended one of the seminars titled “Is Seminary for Me?”
“We drew several favorable comparisons with several other well-known conferences,” Davis said. “… Here, they really felt like they had something that would help them in their personal walk with Christ as well as helping them become more proficient and effective in sharing the Gospel and defending it to its detractors.”