“It’s only when you‘ve thought through what you believe that you have the confidence and ability to engage with someone,” speaker Sean McDowell told a captivated audience Thursday morning at Momentum Youth Conference.
The apologist and Biola College professor returned to the conference for the fifth time to challenge students to know what they believe and why.
He spent the first twenty minutes of his presentation role-playing as a man with an atheist world view, espousing the belief that there is no scientific evidence that God exists. He took questions from the audience as students tried to understand his position and respond biblically. McDowell’s convincing character was at times haughty and arrogant as he responded to many thoughtful questions.
At the end of the question-answer time, he removed his “atheist glasses.”
“I don’t believe almost anything I just said in character,” he assured the audience. “I’m a Christian, not because of blind faith, not because my parents were Christians… I’m a Christian, and I think you should be a Christian, for one reason — because it’s true.”
He queried the audience about the experience. “As a group, how did you treat the atheist?” he asked. There responses were similar to what he said he’d seen in other groups, he said – hostile, angry, aggressive.
“Didn’t Jesus say love your enemies?,” he asked. “Jesus spoke truth, but he did it with a heart of love and compassion to set people free.”
He encouraged the students to consider how they respond to people with whom they don’t agree. “The stories we tell, the jokes we laugh at, the misconceptions we often have of other people, communicates in a way that people don’t hear [what we have to say],” he stressed.
“The point was not to beat you up, but to push back and get you thinking,” he said of his presentation.
He then concluded with biblical responses to many of the questions the students had asked, debunking the positions that his atheist character had embraced.
Tuesday morning, the winners of Momentum’s Got Talent contest was announced. Tiffany Tabor was named grand prize for her vocal solo. Second place went to Joey Shiffer and third place to Kyle Zepp.
All three will have the choice of a renewable scholarship from Grace College, Lancaster Bible College, Olivet College, and Northwest College. Tiffany, as the grand prize recipient, was offered a $20,000 scholarship to Olivet College.
Early in the session, Ed Lewis, executive director of CE National, the sponsor of Momentum, encouraged the importance of reading the Bible. He encouraged students to have regular Bible reading and devotions. “We need to be people who are reading and studying the Word.”
This afternoon a variety of options are available to students, including On Mission ministry opportunities and a Fun in the Sun session.
Tonight, the evening session begins at 8:30 p.m. with speakers J. Warner Wallace and Davey Blackburn.
Momentum main sessions may be viewed live online via the Momentum Live Feed. (Click here to access.)