Earlier this week (Nov. 1 and 2), Prestonwood Baptist Church, Christian Thinkers Society, and Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas, joined forces to host “Anchored,” a two-day conference that witnessed over 3,000 gather to be equipped by the school’s Biblical Worldview Institute (BWI).
The conference, which started in 2005, aims to instill a Christ-centered worldview in the youth of today. BWI says that a “growing number of young people in the United States are walking away from their faith. The list of ‘former Christians’ is growing as is their influence.” The conference is designed to “equip students, educators, and parents to navigate these crucial culture conversations and anchor in the faith.”
This year’s “Anchored” conference focused on the topic of deconstruction and featured well-known speakers Dr. Sean McDowell, Alisa Childers, Dr. Scott Stripling, Dr. Craig Evans, Dr. Randy Guliuzza, Allen Parr, and Dr. Jeremiah J. Johnston.
ChurchLeaders spoke with Prestonwood Baptist Church Pastor of Apologetics and Cultural Engagement and Dean of Spiritual Development at Prestonwood Christian Academy, Jeremiah Johnston, at the conference.
The intent of the conference was to tackle issues of deconstruction head on rather than to hide from them, Johnston shared, adding that thousands heard from a diverse group of godly men and women who are scholars and specialist in their own fields.
The conference’s speakers “discussed from their Biblio-centric positions, what deconstruction is, but how the scales of truth tip in our favor—and how we have nothing to be afraid of when it relates to deconstruction,” Johnston said. “People in our churches have always had the issue of ‘they went out from us but they were never among us.'”
As a historian, Johnston argued that liberalism always rebrands itself. Johnston cited the example that society doesn’t use the term “occult” anymore, instead using the term “paranormal” because it sounds “cooler.” He explained, “It’s not liberalism anymore. It’s progressive Christianity. Liberalism has a really funny way of constantly refreshing and rebranding itself, but the cool thing about truth is the truth never has to be rebranded.”
“The goal of this conference was to show how we are anchored in the truth, but not shying away from those difficult questions,” Johnston continued.
Johnston said in Wednesday’s morning session with Dr. Evans, “Unlike any other religion in the world, Christianity puts itself to the historical test and says, ‘Hey, you can test our belief against history,’ where every other belief system consciously avoids interaction with evidence and with history.”
The Pastor of Apologetics and Cultural Engagement shared that he believes that the attendance at this year’s conference makes this the largest apologetics conference in North America, as far as people in the same room together.
This was a successful conference because of the amount of young faces in the room, Johnston said. Almost all apologetics-focused events Johnston speaks at or attends have an average age of 60, which he says concerns him.
“What blew me away about this conference was we have the young generations. This year, we even brought in fifth graders. Now some of our readers might think, ‘Wait a minute, you brought in fifth and sixth graders?’ Yes. And they were blown away,” Johnston said. “I had fifth and sixth grade teachers stopping me at the door saying, ‘Thank you so much. I can’t wait to send you the pictures of the notes our fifth and sixth graders were taking.’ And that was a first.”