(Photo: New Attitude Conference)
Sometimes, Christians get so concerned with what's right and wrong, we lose our humility, said one Washington pastor and author.
"We think that we see what's right and therefore we become self righteous thinking 'I am clever enough to know this. I am clever enough to figure this out," said Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
Over the last four days, some 3,500 young adults engaged in the study Scripture while leaving the self righteousness at home. The young Christians traveled to Louisville, Ky., for the 2008 New Attitude conference to focus on "God's Word" and take up "humble orthodoxy" believing, living and representing biblical truth with humility.
Joshua Harris, who founded New Attitude, wanted the thousands to experience the power of sound doctrine "and the fact that truth really changes your life."
"We never want to assume the Gospel," Harris cautioned. "We always want to go back to and focus on the reality that Jesus died for our sins. We want to hold fast to those truths of the Christian faith .... But at the same time, we want to be humble."
Agreeing with the combination "humble orthodoxy," Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a preeminent evangelical, stressed the need for sound biblical teaching but reminded believers of how they have come to know the truth claims of the Gospel.
"We need to say 'we are sinners saved by grace who know the truth not because we're so smart but because God has spoken to us," Mohler said.
This year, in addition to its speaking sessions, New Attitude featured its first ever Q&A session, bringing Mohler to the hot seat to answer live questions on almost any topic asked by conference attendants.
Over 60 people eagerly lined up to microphones to ask questions but detailed answers by Mohler gave time for only eight questions.
"Should we be wary of postmodern ideas and their effect on the church?" a female attendant who identified herself as Bethany from Louisville, Ky., asked.
"Yes," Mohler said directly.
Postmodernism can be helpful, Mohler said, acknowledging that it helps people understand there is a diverse world of worldviews and not everyone shares the same "social system" as Christians.
On the other hand, postmodernism is pernicious, he commented.
"It can produce a wrong kind of intellectual humility that eventually says there is no truth we can know," the prominent evangelical leader noted. "It denies there is a great universal truth to which we are accountable and to which we can know."
Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church called it arrogance to deny the truth claims in the Bible.
"God's been really clear in the Bible. So for us to be vague on something God has been clear about, that's not humble. That's arrogant. It's arrogant of us to put our own ideas as if they're better than God's," Dever emphasized in an earlier interview. "Really believing the truth is humble of us, it's surrendering ourselves to Him."
Other questions New Attitude attendants posed during the conference included the issue of homosexuality, the inerrancy of the Bible, and the distinction between the Bible and other religious books.
"Always on the issue of homosexuality we realize, we as evangelicals are in perpetual danger of saying too much and too little," Mohler told the thousands of young Christians.
"If we ever compromise on the sinfulness of homosexuality and the fact that God has a normative pattern for our sexuality, we say too little and we can condemn people to their sin. We can mislead them to their condemnation."
"We can also say too much by trying to elaborate upon what the Scriptures says as if the Scriptures have a focus on homosexuality in 'third Corinthians.' There is no such book."
Aligning his words with the concept of "humble orthodoxy," he cautioned Christians to speak humbly on the controversial matter, reminding them of their own sinful nature.
"We're not saying that homosexuals are sinners sexually where others are not," he said. "We're saying it's a sexual sin clearly identified in Scripture as one that needs to wake us up to the reality of sin, one that is against nature. Any human being who's gone through puberty is a sexual sinner. So let's talk humbly about what it means as a sinner to find the grace of Christ and the gift of the moral law."
Other speakers at the May 24-27 conference included C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries and Dr. John Piper, author and senior pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis.
Piper exhorted the young believers to work hard toward their spiritual goals, warning them against laziness. At the same time, Piper advanced the notion of humility, making it clear that hard work isn't "decisive" for achieving those goals.
"Dont spare any effort to know your Bible ... Dont ever think your hard work is the decisive key. The decisive key is the sovereign grace of God. I plead with you, dont waste your life," Piper said.