MOUNT VERNON — It’s easy to see why apologetics training arrives at a very crucial junction for students. A pluralistic society becomes even more so as technology and social media capabilities advance. Consequently, opinions arrive via an unleashed digital fire hydrant. At the same time, teenagers and even those into their early 20s are developing their own worldview.
Those factors justify the need for such events as the Defend the Faith Apologetics Conference, held Jan. 21 at Brewton-Parker College.
Invited by Billy Puckett, BPC director of Church Relations, speakers challenged the approximately 80 students to defend Christianity through logical arguments and reason. Adam Greenway, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry, served as the keynote speaker. Greenway is also vice president for Academic Services at Southern Seminary.
“There is far more religious diversity at this time… if Jesus tarries in his coming, it will only get worse,” stated Greenway on the need for apologetics training.
An increase in unbelief
Around five percent of the American population identified as religiously unaffiliated, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. Last year, a quarter of Americans did. That figure remained between 5-8 percent for the 1970s through 1990.
However, beginning in 1991 (6 percent) the number started to rise. By 1998, 14 percent of the country claimed no religion. A period of stagnation came through 2006. But from there the percentage began to climb, pickup up momentum with each year.
Among young adults, those aged 18-29, the trend is even more stark. In 1986 ten percent from that group were religiously unaffiliated. Last year 39 percent claimed as much.
Breakout sessions offered
Apologetics and evangelism, Greenway stressed, cannot be seen as two separate areas. Therefore, he said, integration of the two were necessary when contending for the faith.
In addition to Greenway’s messages, participants had breakout session options including:
- Biblical Hope in the Age of ISIS by Jerry Ray
- The Defense of Universal Morality: Why Everyone Gets Mad When You Punch ’em in the Face by Stephen Collins
- God is Bringing Sexy Back: The Biblical Design for Marriage by Austin Pounds
- Creation vs. Evolution by Ricky Cummings
In addition to the informational sessions, students ate lunch in the dining hall, took a campus tour, and were given the opportunity to speak with an admissions counselor.