The Mid-Atlantic Reformation Society is planning to hold its annual Future of Christendom Conference this fall in Lancaster County, an event which will include a debate on homosexuality.
The conference theme is “The Gospel at War” and will be held at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim and will run September 15-17, 2023.
Dr. James White, an Arizona-based Reformed Baptist pastor and apologist, is the keynote speaker of the conference. White has authored or contributed to over two dozen books, including The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message About Homosexuality.
As part of the conference, White will be participating in a debate with Dr. Gregory Coles concerning homosexuality and Christianity. Coles is the author of Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity.
White and Coles will be debating the question, “Is ‘Gay Christian’ a Biblically Acceptable Identity for a Member of Christ’s Church?” Coles will be arguing in the affirmative and White will be arguing in the negative.
Coles describes himself as a “gay Christian” and has written that “if and when I find myself attracted to someone in the future, that person is overwhelmingly likely to be a man.” He also said that he finds it “helpful to call myself ‘gay’ – because it helps me make wise long-term decisions.”
White has spoken publicly on the topic of homosexuality for many years and argues that homosexual desire, not merely action, is sin.
“I seriously reject the idea of a Christian finding their identity in a disordered, sinful desire for same sex encounters,” White said during a 2018 podcast. “Gay Christianity…is a misnomer.”
The debate will be moderated by Chris Arnzen of Iron Sharpens Iron Radio, a Carlisle-based Christian radio show.
Arnzen, who has helped arrange over 20 theological debates, told The Lancaster Patriot that the debate is especially important because Coles’ position is “in some sense…the most dangerous view to have in regard to homosexuality because it is more easily embraced by those who claim to be Bible-believing Christians, and may even be an acceptable position by a great percentage of modern evangelicals.”
In addition to White’s keynote address and the moderated debate, the conference will feature around a dozen 18-minute presentations focused on how the Gospel is at war with many areas of the culture, including government schools, media, missions, feminism, and church pulpits.
Luke Saint, chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Reformation Society, told The Lancaster Patriot that the goal of the conference is to equip Christians to confront the pressing issues of the day with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Our hope with the Future of Christendom Conferences has always been that the kingdom of God would be furthered, the kingdom of darkness would be attacked, and the people who attend the conferences would be equipped to do both of those things,” Saint said.
“This is not a conference about pie-in-the sky, fluffy pietism. This conference will address real battles that Christians are engaging in today.”
Saint also said that the conference planners intentionally provide time for fellowship, networking, and personal interaction with the speakers and attendees, something he thinks is missing from many conferences.
Registration for the conference is open at the Future of Christendom website.