Southern Seminary’s Renown Youth Conference encourages students to seek wisdom
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (SBTS) — Leaders at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary challenged more than 600 middle and high school students to seek wisdom with a Christian worldview, March 5-6, at the Renown Youth Conference, hosted by Southern’s undergraduate school Boyce College.
“If you start somewhere other than, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,’ you are not wise,” Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said. “That’s where wisdom starts.”
Mohler challenged the 646 students and leaders — the annual conference’s highest attendance in five years — to seek wisdom through a study of biblical wisdom literature.
Preaching from Proverbs 9, Mohler said wisdom begins with the creation narrative. A worldview that starts without God creating the universe will not hold together logically. In order to be wise, Mohler said, people must know where they came from and fear God in his power and love.
“The start of your story is in eternity when God created the heavens and the earth and determined that you would exist, and he knew you before you were,” Mohler said. “That’s the beginning of your story, and you were made in his image.”
A person’s life flows from where they start their worldview and if that start is apart from God, it will also end apart from God, Mohler said.
Boyce College Dean Dan Dewitt and Dan Dumas, senior vice president for Institutional Administration and professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Southern Seminary joined Mohler in teaching the main sessions.
Dumas, whose new book Live Smart: Preparing for the Future God Wants for You releases next month, warned the students not to “waste their youthfulness.” Teaching from Psalm 139:1-12, he said that wisdom comes from a high view of God. Since a person lives out their view of God every day, having a properly informed view of God will touch each detail of a person’s life.
“We don’t run from theology, we run to theology,” said Dumas. “It’s cultivating a knowledge of God. [Christian theology is] a right and proper view and understanding of God and everything else in your Christian life is built on that. If that foundation is cracked or wobbly you’re going to have all kinds of issues. If you don’t have a big God, you’re going to have massive problems.”
Dumas also emphasized the practical message of wisdom. He encouraged students not to wait until they are older to obey God. Procrastinating in following God is a sin, he said. From Proverbs 1 Dumas shared Solomon’s message to young people.
“Fear God, honor your parents, choose your friends wisely, and obey God immediately,” Dumas said. “If you shun wisdom today, there will come a day when wisdom shuns you.”
DeWitt, who recently wrote an apologetics book Christ or Chaos, concluded the conference by focusing on how God blesses those who follow him. Teaching from Psalm 103, DeWitt said God blesses by forgiving sin and healing the spiritual condition of those who seek him.
“God not only forgives us but he begins taking all the junk, all the cancer of sin, and he starts making something beautiful,” DeWitt said.
He urged the students to take to heart the wisdom they had learned. He said if one thing they learned at the conference were to make a difference in their lives, it should be to let the lessons they learned about seeking wisdom change them.
“The sum of these truths find a way of penetrating your heart and they begin working their way through you from the inside out,” he said.
In addition to the main sessions, students chose to attend one of nine breakout sessions. The sessions, which focused on a variety of topics from missions to biblical manhood and womanhood, featured Boyce or Southern faculty members, including Randy Stinson, senior vice president for Academic Administration and provost; James M. Hamilton Jr., professor of biblical theology; and Jeremy Pierre, associate professor of biblical counseling and dean of students.
The Renown Conference also allows middle and high school students to experience student life at Boyce College. In addition to studying biblical truths in the teaching sessions, students enjoyed an ice cream social in Sampey Commons and attended a concert featuring gospel rapper Json. Prospective college students also attended a panel discussion with Boyce professors and toured the 84-acre campus.
Audio and video from Renown will soon be available online at sbts.edu/resources.