Evangelical theologians who firmly hold to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture are preparing to help fellow believers stand firm in their faith amid an increasingly hostile culture.
Dr. R. C. Sproul, who will be leading Ligonier Ministries' West Coast Conference in June, argues that while Christians should "live peaceably with all," there are times "when we have to contend for the faith."
And that time is now, he indicated in a Friday broadcast of Ligonier Ministries' "Renewing Your Mind."
"Christians in our day and in our world and in our culture have to disabandon themselves of this idea that we are living in the cradle of a Christian culture," he said. "We are not. We are living in a culture that is not simply indifferent to the Christian faith but it is actively hostile."
He pointed to the increasing push for the separation of church and state and the "new atheists," whom Sproul describes as having an "extraordinary sense of boldness," as examples of hostility toward Christianity.
He said of the new atheists: "They wouldn't be able to have that boldness if they didn't already understand that the culture is basically with them."
Sproul, who founded Ligonier, was joined in the broadcast by Dr. John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif. Both will be featured speakers at the June 8-9 conference in Seattle where they will address biblical authority, the resurrection of Jesus, and the exclusivity of Christ, among other doctrines.
The two prominent theologians acknowledged that standing firm on biblical truths isn't popular.
"We have ... a culture that's basically allergic to taking firm stands on anything theological," Sproul described. "The idea that's rampant is that doctrine divides; what we're trying to do is build relationships and so we should stay away from theological debates and controversy."
Doctrine, the Sanford, Fla., minister admitted, does divide "because Christ divides, truth divides."
Unfortunately, he lamented, people tend to "retreat into this relativism that says it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere."
"What we're saying is it matters eternally what you believe."
Amid the challenges, however, the longtime pastors believe there is a benefit to Christians: it gets them on their game.
"When the world is crying for tolerance for everything but Christianity, the Church is giving the world an attitude of tolerance, soft-selling, backing off, being more concerned with entertaining and showing interest in unbelievers ... we ought to ... get on our game," said MacArthur.
"This is the perfect time to draw a hard line in the sand and be bold for the truth, go against the grain of the market-driven church."
MacArthur said he wants to "help folks see why we can firmly stand on the absolute truthfulness and authority of Scripture" and if Christians don't, "then everything is lost."
"We have to trust the Word, ... stand on the firm revelation of Holy Scripture, proclaim it unhesitatingly and yet lovingly and watch God do His work, redeem His people, build His kingdom through His truth," he asserted.
Also joining Sproul and MacArthur at the June conference is Steven Lawson, senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala.
The conference will "explore several doctrines that define true Christianity, including biblical authority, the Trinity, the resurrection of Jesus, the exclusivity of Christ, justification by faith alone, the mortification of sin, and the existence of God."
Organizers exhorted, "We must stand for these doctrines and refuse to give ground to those who deny these essential truths."