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Conferees Hear How to Impact Culture for Christ

Nov 14, 2002 03:00 AM EST

CHARLOTTE, NC - Those attending a recent apologetics conference in North Carolina went away afterwards having been given practical ideas on how they can bring Christ into the "culture war."

The 9th annual National Conference on Apologetics and Other Religions sponsored by Southern Evangelical Seminary, was held in Charlotte last week. The theme of the conference was "Impacting the Culture for Christ." Attendance was around 1,200 for the two-day event, with representatives from 23 states and some countries. A former Jew, Jehovah's Witness, and astrologer were among the speakers who conducted 24 seminars.

On Friday night Dr. Norman Geisler, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, kicked off the evening by asking the question: "Why Impact the Culture for Christ?" That question, he suggested, could only be answered in the light of the basis on which America was founded and what has happened since then.

Geisler declared that the U.S. was founded on three truths mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. "Affirmed ... is the existence of a Creator, that we are all created, and that we have God-given moral absolutes." Geisler contrasts this with the notion that "nowhere in the Constitution is there a mention of the so-called 'separation of church and state.'" According to Geisler, "the words do not even appear in the Constitution. At the time the Constitution was ratified, five of the Colonies had established state religions." Hence, "the states never would have agreed to such a concept."

Geisler further suggested moral decline, due to the rejection of the three truths, started in 1961. For more than 300 years, it was legal in the United States to have in school class prayer, read the Bible devotionally, teach creation, and post the Ten Commandments. Geisler concluded: "The Courts have, in effect, ruled the Declaration of Independence as unconstitutional."

The evening's theme continued as Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries and author of the book Moral Dilemmas spoke on "How to Impact the Media for Christ."

"There is little doubt," Anderson mentioned, "that the media is impacting us. It is estimated that the typical high school graduate will view over 22,000 homicides and 640,000 commercials promoting sex and materialism." Anderson recounted that a TV executive once told him television really does not influence behavior.

Anderson responded to him: "Then why does it cost an advertiser millions of dollars for just a few seconds of air time on your programs? If it is possible to influence people to buy products in just seconds of commercial time, what are they being influenced to do in the other twenty-two minutes of your program?"

Anderson further offered valuable steps to changing the media's impact on viewers and instead impacting the media for Christ. He mentioned that Christians are in a battle for their minds and suggested they give attention to what is entering their mind from the media.

"Discernment often calls for us to turn off the TV," he said. He added that believers should pay attention to good TV and movie programming, and write letters to media representatives. He suggested a "well-written letter really can change corporation policy."

Dr. Jay Budziszewski, professor of philosophy at the University of Texas and author of the book Written on the Heart, concluded Friday evening with a message on "How to Impact the Culture with General Revelation."

"There are truths," he suggested, "that are known to all people [but] are suppressed." Those people, he said, have the witness of creation -- that there is a God -- and the moral law on their heart. "Christians can call upon these witnesses to impact our culture."

On Saturday, other sessions were held by such noted authors as Dr. Ronald Nash, Mark Ritchie, and well-known apologist Ravi Zacharias, host of the radio program Let My People Think. Zacharias concluded the evening's events with a dynamic message on holding firm to Christian convictions while impacting the culture for Christ. He emphasized that in modern culture, people "lost the ability to love in the 1970s, lost hope for the future in the 1980s, and lost the ability to reason in the 1990s."

Zacharias recounted a speaking engagement in Indonesia where he was asked the question by a Muslim, "Is the God of the Qu'arn the same God of the Old and New Testament?"

While surrounded by six armed bodyguards, Zacharias lightly commented that he wished he could have passed the question over to his assistant. After quickly praying to God, Zacharias answered, "Sir, if you ask any orthodox Muslim scholar or orthodox biblical scholar you will receive the same answer. NO!"

Zacharias concluded with a warning to the attendees that "we may be moving into a cultural age where courage my be needed that will cost us our lives."

Also on Saturday, various seminars -- most of which were filled to capacity -- were held on how to impact those involved in Mormonism, New Age, witchcraft, astrology, Islam, pluralism, Judaism, Black Muslim, and even theological liberalism. In addition, many of the apologetic and counter-cult ministries represented offered books, tapes, and other resources to help equip participants and others to impact the culture for Christ.

By Doug Potter