Posted On September 21, 2017
The last two weeks marked an eventful season at Reformation Bible College (RBC). Hurricane Irma rolled through Central Florida as a tropical storm, thankfully leaving little damage to the campus aside from debris from tree branches and a few days without electricity. Classes from Sept. 11-14 were canceled as students, faculty, and staff returned from voluntary evacuation or waited for their electricity to be restored. We are grateful to God that in the days after the storm, RBC was still able to welcome prospective students to campus, celebrate the beginning of the academic year at Convocation, and hold our first apologetics youth conference, Always Ready.
On Friday, prospective students from around the country arrived for Preview Day and were able to sit in on a class, spend time with current students and faculty, and learn more about student life.
Later that evening, students, their families, and friends of Ligonier and RBC attended our seventh annual Convocation Service at Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla. Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor & CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary, gave a Convocation address on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which will be available on RBC’s Youtube channel soon. Subscribe to our channel to be notified when this video is posted.
On Saturday, RBC hosted its first youth conference, Always Ready, and more than 300 people attended to hear faculty sessions on a variety of apologetic topics.
In the opening session, “A Time of Confidence,” RBC President, Dr. Stephen Nichols introduced the theme of the Always Ready conference: to learn the mandate, message, and method of apologetics in order to be always ready to proclaim the gospel. He explained that in Philippians 1:12, Paul told believers who were facing opposition from their culture, to have confidence in the gospel. Dr. Nichols’ session will be available on our Youtube channel soon. Subscribe to our channel to be notified when this video is posted.
We can be confident in the gospel. There is no person or movement that can stamp out the gospel, no matter what the circumstance looks like on the surface. —Dr. Stephen Nichols
RBC faculty members then led respective breakout sessions on the apologetic of love, the trustworthiness of the gospel, and the connection between faith and science.
Academic Dean and Professor of Theology Dr. John Tweeddale spoke on love as an apologetic for the gospel. He taught that as Christians, our love for one another is evidence that we are followers of Christ (John 13:31–35). However, if we do not love each other, the world will neither know that we are Christ’s disciples nor understand the love of God in the gospel (John 17:22–26). While the Christian faith is true regardless of how well we love one another as Christians, the world often measures the credibility of our witness to the extent that Christlike love defines our lives as the people of God. As Francis Schaeffer argued, love is the final apologetic. Dr. Tweeddale’s session will be available on our Youtube channel soon. Subscribe to our channel to be notified when this video is posted.
Love is an apologetic in a post-Christian world. —Dr. John Tweeddale
Professor of Systematic Theology Dr. Keith Mathison spoke on science and faith, and the connection between reason and faith. He described how Christians often run into online conversations and debates unprepared because they do not know their opponent’s arguments. When Christians study the natural sciences, that does not mean they are renouncing the gospel. We are studying secondary causes when we study the created world. When scientists speak of the physical and natural world, we know it as God’s creation. When we think of science that way, we move away from thinking of it as a bad thing, but as what the hands of God made. We need to step into debates with non-believers not only aware of their arguments and methodology, but prepared in our own theological doctrine and resources.
We need to be preparing for years to be ready for deep theological conversations and the arguments of other religions and worldviews. —Dr. Keith Mathison
Professor of New Testament Dr. David Briones spoke on the trustworthiness of the gospel in a time of false gospels, conspiracy theories, and intellectual skepticism. He taught that in order to address the arguments of critical friends and family members, we first need to understand their non-Christian presuppositions – their worldviews, convictions, and implicit assumptions about God, humanity, Scripture, the world, etc. When we understand non-Christian presuppositions, we can then lovingly, humbly, and intellectually respond to their arguments, and see the deeper spiritual problem behind critical questions and remarks. We can be most winsome when we understand that conversations and debates are not competitions that determine who is intellectually superior. We need to remember that the Word of God is powerful to save. It is not the word of man, after all. It is the very Word of God.
It’s the salvation of the lost that we care about first and foremost, not winning an argument. —Dr. David Briones
Dr. Nichols’ final session, “What Would Paul Do?”, focused on applied apologetics. Turning to Acts 17, Dr. Nichols explained that Paul was spiritually acute and looked at people with compassion because he knew that they were lost. Paul went to places where people needed the gospel, and to where people naturally gathered. He reasoned with the people in the synagogue, moving from the known to the unknown, from the common ground of the coming Messiah to the news of Jesus. In the marketplace, he reasoned with Gentiles, applying cultural references they understood to God. Paul not only found areas of common ground, but areas of conflict with others, and he confronted them with the truth of Jesus Christ. Paul laid out to them that if they were in Adam, there was no way of atoning for sins. But if they were in Christ, the whole weight of a holy God will not come down on them. Dr. Nichols’ session will be available on our Youtube channel soon. Subscribe to our channel to be notified when this video is posted.
A good apologetic method is this: gain a hearing, then get out of the way of the gospel. —Dr. Stephen Nichols
To conclude the conference, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, joined via Skype for a live Q&A session on relevant topics. The session will be available on RBC’s Youtube channel soon. Subscribe to our channel to be notified when this video is posted.
Social Media Highlights
It’s an exciting weekend on campus. Today, prospective students from around the country arrived for Preview Day, sat in on a class, spent time with current students and faculty, and learned more about student life. Tonight, Dr. @LigonDuncan will give our seventh annual Convocation address. And tomorrow, we host our first youth conference, Always Ready. Why not #visitRBC at our next Preview Day? Save the date for October 13. #refbiblecollege #reformed #reformedtheology