The 2015 International Christian Evidences Conference was held at York College in York, Nebraska June 19-21. This was our eighth annual conference. It was sponsored by the Apologetics Research Society and hosted by York College. The theme was The Christian Worldview. Why York College and why York, Nebraska, you might ask. The answer is two-fold. First, York is a Christian college affiliated with the churches of Christ, which made for a great partnership, and second, it is the brand new home of the John Clayton Museum of Antiquities, which holds the Foster Stanback Collection. Foster is the chair of the board of ARS and John Clayton is the leading apologist in the churches of Christ and is a personal hero to both Foster and myself. By the way, the official opening of the museum is Sept 12th, 2015. You are invited to attend. We at ARS intend a continuing partnership with York.
The conference had seventy participants, with a majority being from the International Churches of Christ from nearly every part of the United States, but with a large minority from the local churches of Christ in Nebraska and the surrounding states. With two of the principle speakers being from the Christian Church, Dr. Robert Kurka and Dr. Richard Knopp, this made the event unique in that it brought together speakers and participants from three branches of the Restoration Movement. The unity of spirit between the three groups was palpable.
Of course, the purpose of the meeting was not principally to be a gathering of three branches of the Restoration movement. It was to investigate different worldviews and to learn how the efficacy of the Christian worldview can be used as an apologetic argument for the Christian faith. We were blessed to hear a number of experts in the field.
Drs. Robert Kurka and Richard Knopp, both from Lincoln Christian University, brought perhaps the most scholarly perspective to the meeting. Richard gave the keynote address on Friday, titled “Rethinking Worldview: A New Paradigm for Christian Discipleship.” He proposed that worldview apologetics should not only be looked at from the perspective of comparing the ability of different “isms” to explain the nature of reality, but from the effect of such worldviews on culture and personal action. He gave an inspiring and thought-provoking class titled “Room for Doubt,” in which he gave us the thesis that doubt in a Christian context is not something to be feared but to be embraced. Faith without doubt is, in the long run, not a strong faith. His colleague Bob Kurka is a longtime friend of ARS. He gave classes on bioethics, on Christianity and Culture and a fascinating talk Sunday AM in which he proposed that we need to learn to live in a poly religious world without giving in to religious pluralism.
Dr. John Beggs gave the class which may have been to most talked-about one at the conference. As a practicing physicist at Indiana University in the area of neuroscience, he gave a fascinating talk proving that the deterministic approach to neuroscience, which is almost universally the one used by neuroscientists, is not able to explain the full human experience. You HAVE to get the recording! Fellow-scientist John Clayton gave an emotional and passionate class about the Christian response to the question of pain and suffering. He also gave two different classes in which he challenged us to think about what our view of God is. Is he a magician or an engineer? John was the speaker for the conference public event as he gave his personal testimony, “Why I Left Atheism” at the East Hill Church of Christ.” He shared his fascinating journey from the head of the Indiana Atheist Society to a disciple of Jesus Christ who has spoken to literally thousands of audiences on the evidence for belief in Jesus.
We do not have time to discuss in detail all the classes at the conference, as there were so many. Dan Conder gave the most entertaining presentation, titled “Conversational Apologetics.” Apparently, you had to be there to some extent, as his impersonations of various Christian apologists and new atheists was a scream. Michael Burns gave a talk on the effect of the resurrection on our worldview. Star ARS apologetics certificate student Randy Hroziencik gave a historical perspective on the relationship between the Christian faith and Reason. I (John Oakes) gave presentations on “Christianity and Modernism”, on “Presuppositional Apologetics” and on “Answering the Hard Questions.” Finally, Dr. Steven Eckman, president of York College spoke on his passion, which is reaching out to “The Millennial Generation.” Is that not what it is all about? We need to “be prepared to answer” the questions the next generation is asking. This conference gave us all amazing resources to do exactly that. It can only be hoped that the participants will put what they learned to use in sharing the gospel and increasing the faith of believers.
If you find any of these topics intriguing, you can find outlines and power points for most of the talks at www.evidenceforchristianity.org, or, better still, you can order the CD with all of these, plus recordings of all eighteen of the presentations at www.ipibooks.com or by contacting Toney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are pleased to announce that the ninth ARS Christian Evidence Conference will be held this Fall in Miami. The conference will be geared for reaching out to teens and college students. The precise dates, topics and other details will be published at the web site in the next few weeks. We hope to see you there.
John Oakes, President, ARS