Tag Archives: Apologetics

Three-Day Summer Event Will Help Prepare Students For College

World Medical Mission, 2013 Prescription for Renewal, BGTC at The Cove

By Kristy Etheridge

Matthew Cook is a high school senior from Greensboro, N.C., who’s getting ready to make a big decision: where to go to college. His top choices are Appalachian State, Gardner-Webb and Campbell. His mother, Elizabeth, jokes about acquiring more gray hair every day her son doesn’t decide.

But Matthew will soon face bigger choices than figuring out which college has the best courses, scholarships and all-important dining hall food.

“Our kids are under fire,” Elizabeth said. “The statistics are so high—not only do they fall away from church when they go to college, but they fall away from Christ.”

That’s why the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove is hosting Christian apologist and youth worker Sean McDowell for a three-day seminar called The Cause: Strengthen Your Faith for College.

Listen here as Sean McDowell tells you what you can expect at this seminar.

Elizabeth spotted the event on the BGEA Facebook page and immediately signed up Matthew and one of his friends.

Matthew already has a solid faith foundation, thanks to his church emphasizing apologetics, especially among its youth. He’s excited to expand his knowledge before he heads to college—a known battleground where some professors and students push a humanist agenda on often-impressionable freshmen.

“There are people who are definitely gunning for us as Christians,” Matthew said. “They’re seeking to demolish the foundation that God has laid for us. I don’t see how you couldn’t be interested in apologetics. As Christians, we’re called to defend our faith.”

Sean McDowell says students, parents and pastors who attend July’s seminar will explore some of the toughest questions facing college students.

“Questions like, how do you know the Bible is true? How do you know God exists? Why would God allow such evil?” Sean said. “So if you’re a young person, come out. We will hang out and we’ll go deep and help prepare you.”

Will Graham, Executive Director at The Cove, says this seminar is a first for the Asheville, N.C. Bible training and retreat center.

“This will give college students a foundation on biblical truth, so they have a little bit of ammunition to defend themselves,” he said. “It’s good to be challenged in our faith, but we don’t want to discourage them, where they give up and say, ‘I don’t have an answer for this, so I’m leaving the church.’”

To make the seminar as affordable as possible, The Cove is offering free overnight lodging for all participants. They just need to pay the seminar fee of $229 per student or $279 per adult (including all teaching and meals). Pastors or youth leaders who bring four or more students are eligible to attend the seminar at no cost.

“When you’re a parent sending a kid off to college, finances are a concern,” Elizabeth said. “So the free lodging made it affordable.”

It was just a matter of carving out the time. With family, friends, church, basketball coaching and internships, Matthew’s schedule is packed. But he and his mom agreed the seminar was a priority.

“My children are mine,” Elizabeth said. “God gave them to me alone to instruct. When my kids go off to school, I want them to know who they are in Christ.”

While students who attend the event will be learning a lot, there will also be time to enjoy The Cove’s mountain views and 10 miles of hiking trails.

Matthew may be torn over which college to attend, but he knows a weekend at The Cove will prepare him for wherever he lands. And he hopes many more students will join him this summer.

“This one weekend could possibly make or break your college career.”

Click here to sign up or learn more about July’s seminar, The Cause: Strengthen Your Faith for College. The seminar is geared towards high school juniors and seniors and college freshmen. However, it is open to parents, youth leaders and anyone interested in strengthening and defending their faith.

Guest Post: What Does It Mean to Have Faith in God?

By Sean McDowell

Sean McDowell, Bible teacher, author, and educator in San Juan Capistrano, CA, will be teaching on “The Faith” Is Not Blind at The Cove on July 12-14, 2013.

Sean McDowellWhat Does It Mean to Have Faith in God?

A few summers ago I spoke at a camp in Northern California. Topics for the week included intelligent design, the reliability of Scripture, and the historical resurrection of Jesus. On the last day of camp, a young Christian woman complained that if I proved the existence of God then there would be no room for faith.

Although she meant well, she was deeply confused about the nature of faith. She had a view similar to Mark Twain, who famously defined faith as “believing something you know ain’t so.” Many people today understand faith as a blind act of the will regardless of the evidence. But the Bible has a very different understanding of faith. Biblical faith is a trust in God because He has shown Himself to be trustworthy and dependable.

Understood this way, we see that faith in God is not unlike the faith we put in other people. The more evidence we find that someone is truly kind, honest, and dependable, the more likely we are to trust him or her. I did not put my “faith” in my wife when I first met her. Rather, I spent time getting to know her, learning about her passions in life, and examining her character. After spending much time with her I was convinced that she was (and still is!) a trustworthy person who I want to be with for the rest of my life.

The same is true with faith in God. He wants us to get to know Him so we can see that He is trustworthy. In fact, God expects faith from us because He’s given us good evidence of His dependable character, as when He showered Egypt with miracles before inviting Israel to follow Him into the wilderness (Ex 7–14). Rather than asking Israel for blind allegiance, God performed miracles through Moses so they could have a reasonable faith in Him. Miracles were done so the people would believe in God and His servant Moses (Ex 14:31).

God frequently performed miracles in the Bible so people would have confidence in His character. Before healing the paralytic, Jesus said, “But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mk 2). Jesus healed the man so people would know He spoke with authority from above. Jesus did miracles because He was good, but also as confirmation of His identity. John says Jesus’ miracles were recorded “so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name” (Jn 20:31).

Faith isn’t something we exercise just once. We need faith daily. It is a mistake to trust God for the “big” things of heaven (like salvation) but not the “little” things on earth (like daily guidance). God invites us to trust him moment by moment for all of our concerns. He is a well-seasoned guide who never leads us astray. We can follow God’s Son Jesus because He is the smartest, most powerful person around, and He loves us beyond all measure.

To register for “The Faith” Is Not Blind seminar with Sean McDowell on July 12-14, call 1-800-950-2092 or click here.

Jesus Through The Centuries

By Stuart McAllister

Walking along the road with his followers one day, Jesus asked the question, “Who do people say I am?” The disciples offered a summary of the prevailing and popular views. There seemed to be a range of perspectives and a diversity of opinions amongst the people. Jesus then asked those closest to him, those he was mentoring, the ones who were captivated by him and committed to him: “Who do you say that I am?” Peter famously replied, “You are the Christ.” To any normal Jewish hearer, this meant Jesus was being recognized as the Messiah, the Hope of Israel, the promise of redemption.

From the birth of Christ to the present time, controversy has surrounded the name of Jesus. Was he a Jewish rebel, struggling against the status quo? Was he a religious zealot
eager to throw off the shackles of Rome? Was he a mysterious prophet come to impart sacred wisdom to the masses? Was he a good man whose moral example is simply a model for humanity? Was he a legend created by those with a penchant for myth? Was he a symbol constructed for a power-hungry religious empire?

From the earliest rejections of Jesus’s claims about his identity to historical debates ever
since, we now arrive in the era of vitriolic atheism and the culture of suspicion. It never ceases to amaze me how one question asked 2000 years ago can elicit such diverse, conflicting, and passionate discussion. Yet the question is one of such value that a degree of diligence and vigor is rightly demanded. Modern and postmodern claims that the Christian faith is something intellectually untenable have been ably addressed by writers such as Alister McGrath, N. T. Wright, Ben Witherington, Jr., Darrell Bock, and many more. Jaroslav Pelikan’s Jesus Through the Centuries and Philip Yancey’s The
Jesus I Never Knew
are good popular writings on the continuing quest to
rediscover Jesus.

Moreover, long before our quests or attacks on the historical Jesus, ancient writings pointedly answered the question of Christ’s identity. Writing to the young church in the city of Colossae, the apostle Paul wrote these startling words about Jesus: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17). Against the backdrop of Roman Imperial rule and power, these words would have been immensely subversive, a direct challenge to the reigning worldview. Indeed, the central conflict for the Christian became: Who is Lord—Caesar or Jesus? The outcome of this decision was costly, but as history demonstrates, it led to the gospel’s eventual penetration of the heart of Roman power.

Who is Jesus? This question remains as pertinent today as it was to those who were first asked. Is he a mere legend, as some would claim? Volumes of good New Testament studies
have been written that easily refute this claim. Or was he then, as C. S. Lewis asked, a lunatic (one who merely thought he was God), a liar (one who made horrendously false and misleading claims), or indeed, the Son of God?

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus invites those who are weary to come to him. Many centuries earlier, the prophet Jeremiah spoke of the wisdom and insight available to any and all true
seekers: “You shall seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart,” proclaims the divine heart. Perhaps if we meet these conditions, we may find ourselves in for a surprise. Who do you say that he is?

Join Stuart at The Cove in Asheville, NC on August 1-3, 2012 for his seminar titled Conversations That CountClick here to register or call 1-800-950-2092.

A native of Scotland, Stuart McAllister is North American Regional Director and Vice President of Training at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a renowned speaker, writer, and an associate fellow at Oxford University. Stuart speaks all over the globe with the same passion for the Gospel that he found when he first became a believer. Stuart is a frequent contributor to A Slice of Infinity, RZIM’s daily reading on issues of apologetics and philosophy, Just Thinking, the ministry’s tri-annual journal, as well as Engage, a magazine published quarterly by RZIM Educational Trust. Visit his website here to learn more.