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SBC DIGEST: GuideStone weighs in on market volatility; NOBTS Defend Conference

Amid market volatility, long-term investors should focus on goals, not headlines

By Roy Hayhurst/GuideStone

DALLAS (BP) – After stocks finished their worst week since April 2020, investor uneasiness is understandable. The tech-heavy NASDAQ index lost 7.6 percent last week, and the broader S&P 500 index ended down 5.7 percent for the week.

While moment-by-moment headlines can be jarring, the best plan for retirement plan investors is to focus on their long-term objectives, not those headlines, GuideStone Financial Resources experts said.

“The market expects the Federal Reserve to begin raising interest rates in the next few months,” Chief Investment Officer David Spika explained. “Higher interest rates generally lead to less money in the overall economy, which the market is reacting to.”

Given the Federal Reserve’s likely next steps, the markets’ reaction was not unexpected.

“This is a needed reduction in valuation,” he said. “Stock values have been propped up by Fed policy since the middle of 2020. That was not sustainable.”

Markets are cyclical, Spika said, noting that the S&P 500 was up 27 percent in 2021, 16 percent in 2020 and 29 percent in 2019. Since 1962, mid-term election years tend to be especially volatile, with the S&P 500 falling 19 percent on average at some point during the year.

“A pullback like this is often very healthy for the market,” Spika said, adding that market declines in mid-term election years are normal. However, the S&P 500 has never produced a negative return during the 12 months following a mid-term election.

While the run-up in stocks in the last three years might leave investment allocations lopsided, any changes in allocations must be strategic, not a reaction to the news.

“There is no recession on the horizon, so no bear market is expected,” Spika explained, adding that market watchers look at the difference in yield between corporate bonds and U.S. Treasury securities, which remain tight; widening spreads could signal a recession.

“The market drops so far in 2022 have allowed retirement plan investors who regularly contribute to their accounts to do so at slightly lower valuations,” said Brandon Pizzurro, director of public investments at GuideStone. “This is all part of the wisdom of regular, consistent contributions to a retirement plan.”

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For free resources, including the Retirement Planner Calculator and the Retirement Income Estimate tool, visit GuideStone.org/InvestmentAdvice.

NOBTS’s Defend apologetics conference challenges culture, equips the faithful

By Marilyn Stewart/NOBTS

Defend, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s annual, week-long apologetics conference, featured top apologetics speakers on crucial questions raised by those inside and outside the church, Jan. 3-7.

“Christians desperately need apologetics in a culture like ours, a post-Christian culture that is rapidly becoming an anti-Christian culture,” said Robert Stewart, director of Defend and the NOBTS apologetics program.

Stewart pointed to a shifting culture that now questions the integrity and goodness of the Christian faith.

“When I was in college, the operative question was ‘Is Christianity true?’ When I was in graduate school, the question was ‘Is Christianity relevant?’ That question reflected a post-Christian perspective,” Stewart said. “Today, the preeminent question is this: ‘Is Christianity good?’ This question reveals an increasingly anti-Christian mood. Today’s apologist must be able to defend the truthfulness, relevance and goodness of the Gospel.”

Plenary speakers included renowned resurrection scholar Gary Habermas; Lisa Fields, founder and director of Jude 3 Project; Michael Strauss, University of Oklahoma particle physicist and CERN laboratory physicist, Geneva, Switzerland; David Calhoun, Gonzaga University philosophy professor; Tim McGrew, author, speaker and University of Michigan philosophy professor, Craig Hazen, Biola University’s apologetics program founder and director; James Walker, president of Watchman Fellowship, a ministry to counter-Christian groups; Jamie Dew, NOBTS and Leavell College president, and others.

The 17 plenary sessions and more than 100 breakout sessions focused on the interaction of science and faith, responding to objections to the faith, biblical responses to hot-topic social issues, worldview questions and engaging world religions, arguments for God’s existence and other philosophy topics, biblical responses to gender and sexuality questions, and other issues.

The conference drew attendees from all walks of life and church and collegiate groups from as far away as California, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“Defend helps me to articulate my faith to both believers and non-believers, especially in the public square,” said Jay McCallum, associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court and member of First Baptist, Farmerville, La.

“Christianity is based on faith and supported by reason. My Christian faith is the most logical part of my existence. I am so thankful that Louisiana Baptists support programs such as this that strengthen and enrich my faith.”

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