Were Darwin around today with all the technology and information we now have, even he wouldn’t subscribe to his own theory of evolution, said apologetics speaker Bill Newton. “Here we are today, over 150 years post-publication (On the Origin of Species) and the evidence we have found actually contradicts, not confirms, his theory.”
Newton, youth pastor at First Baptist Church Hot Springs, began a serious study of apologetics 15 years ago. What started as a reason to solidify his own beliefs turned into annual opportunities. Since 2009, he’s taught at conferences across the state, at Super Summer, and Disciple Now weekends. This year, he will lead two breakout sessions at the upcoming Lead>Defend conference: Why the Bible is True and Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design. Defending the faith is key for his target audience. “I tell my students, ‘You’re in the biggest mission field you will ever be on in your lives.’”
The college campus is also a mission field, said Lee Woodmansee, BCM minister at University of Arkansas, Fort Smith.
The average non-Christian college student is “firm in what they believe but willing to hear other options,” he said. Unbelievers ask deep questions like, ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’ “They may not say it exactly that way,” said Woodmansee. “They may ask, ‘Why did my mom die of cancer?’ or ‘Why is my dad an alcoholic?’”
Given the religious diversity in America and the skeptical nature of today’s culture, defending the God of the Bible links closer with evangelism than ever before. Woodmansee knows his students will get that link at the yearly Lead>Defend conference.
Last year, he took 20 students to Lead>Defend. “It’s an experience you’re not going to get anywhere else,” said Woodmansee, adding that his BCM leadership team is required to attend. “I know of no other state convention which does something like this–at least on this scale.”
This year’s Lead>Defend event will be March 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.