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More than 1,100 students attend collegiate conference
February 20, 2006
By Jeff Robinson
Students bow in prayer at a general session of the "Give Me An Answer" collegiate conference. Photo by John Gill
As an 18-year-old University of Tennessee-Martin freshman, Brent Moore came to the first "Give Me An Answer" collegiate conference at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2001 hoping to be equipped to better proclaim the Gospel to a culture that is hostile to biblical truth.
Five years later, the Clarksville, Tenn., native has not only learned how to "earnestly contend for the faith," but he is preparing for the ministry at Southern Seminary and is promoting the school he has grown to love by serving as an ambassador.
"I attended the first two collegiate conferences and was really, really impressed with the seminary," he said. "I got to meet President Mohler when two of my friends and I just kind of popped into his office out of the blue to meet him. He took a lot of time with us and of course gave a great presentation at the conference. When I surrendered to the ministry as a senior in college I knew there was only one seminary I wanted to attend."
More than 1,100 such students from across America visited the Southern Seminary campus Feb. 3-4 to attend the school's sixth annual collegiate conference.
Scott Davis, Southern Seminary's director of admissions, said the conference is well attended because it is unique in nature; it seeks to give biblical answers to difficult theological and cultural questions.
"I think the big attraction is that we are aiming at their heads, proverbially speaking, and most student conferences do not do this," he said. "College students, pastors and the youth ministers that were here all commented about how much they appreciate us helping to train their young people."
The 2006 conference theme was "The People of Truth: Believing, Defending and Living Biblical Truth in a Postmodern Age." More than 20 professors from Southern Seminary unpacked various aspects of the theme with specific topics dealing with issues such as spirituality, sexuality and the emerging church, among others.
Mohler, in his general session presentation that opened the conference, said such a gathering is vital because all believers are commanded to provide answers to questions that arise regarding the Christian faith.
"Christians cannot live by denying the questions," he said. "That is not intellectually honest. And you who are in college and involved in education know that dignifying the questions is an essential Christian responsibility. We do not determine the questions, but we do have the responsibility to acknowledge them, to take them seriously, but also to answer them … The question mark is not the great symbol of Christianity, the answer is.
"We are living in a time in which we are told there are no answers or that no one can know the answers or if you do know the answer, you ought to be too humble to tell anyone else the answer. But that is not what we find in the New Testament as the model of Christianity. When Peter and John were hauled before the Sanhedrin in the book of Acts, they were asked questions. They gave answers. That's where we are today; we are being asked questions by the world and it is our responsibility to give answers."
Davis said he is heartened by the positive feedback from students about the conference.
"During the dinner Friday night, I sat down at a table with students and was so encouraged to hear their conversation. God was already working on their hearts and all we had been through at that point was the first general session by our president, R. Albert Mohler Jr. To hear the seriousness with which they took to heart Dr. Mohler's message was refreshing and helped to remind me of part of the reason that we do this — it's plain, old fashioned ministry."
The conference also serves to introduce potential students to Southern Seminary, Davis pointed out. At least 200 current Southern students attended one or more of the collegiate conferences.
Moore can vouch for the impact the conference can have on students' lives.
"The collegiate conference is vital first-time exposure for potential [seminary] students," he said. "It is effective at putting into students hands the tools for ministry on their campuses."