Thursday, January 24, 2008

Turn Your Campus - Biola, Youth For Christ Conference

"Turn Your Campus"
An Annual One-day Christian Conference
for Jr. Hi and High School Students
(A Conservative Christian Analysis)

Turn Your Campus has a website at Information about this event is limited and sketchy.

The following information was extracted from the Details Page on the website:
Worship Band- NEXUS. No information or description was available nor could it be found on the internet.

DJPROMOTE – (There is a website for this at - There is an interesting graphic at the entrance to his website. It is the cover of a mixtape of his music titled, “Stick It In Your Ear.” His website has some links to several short video clips of events where he has performed. He bills himself as a hip-hop,“spinner and scratcher” DJ and rapper. There is not much usable info on his site to determine anything about his doctrine or even the philosophy of his music or ministry. He claims that his original music is inspired by God. If a person were able to understand any of the lyrics through the din of the noise, or obtain written transcripts, one might be able to analyze them for doctrinal content and accuracy. He does have a link to his personal site on MySpace as well as a couple personal blogs. I did find a very provocative still photo from a video depicting some scantily clad (lingerie) girls. I did not watch the video so I don’t know what that was about. Also some typical sub-culture vulgar expressions such as his use of the word, “sucks."
PROPAGANDA – is a featured “Spoken Word Artist.” I could not find any information about Propaganda in particular but I did find lots of info available online about Spoken Word Artists. Spoken Word Art is a dramatic presentation of poetry or other prose usually accompanied by music with a great deal of focus on the performer.

Wikapedia has a pretty good article on the subject of Spoken Word Art, including the history. It seems to be a spin-off of the hip-hop genre and is noticeably antagonistic to mainstream culture and values. Just to be fair, this artist in this context might be good but there is insufficient info available to make any kind of informed judgment.

BEN STEPHENS – Keynote Conference Speaker. There is no biographical, philosophical, theological or any other kind of “ical” information provided by Turn Your Campus about this speaker (or about the conference in general). The only thing that can be known about him from Turn Your Campus is that he is the featured speaker. There is no title, no subject, no description and no text provided for this event. However, Ben Stephens can easily be located on the internet. Here are some things about the man that can be discerned by his credentials.

Elder Benjamin Stephens III…currently serves as the Pastor to Collegiate & Young Adults at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ, under the leadership of Bishop Charles E. Blake.

Elder Stephens has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Whittier College. While there, he served two terms as Black Student Union President. Elder Stephens holds a Master’s Degree in Divinity from C.H. Mason Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia. He is currently a Doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Elder Stephens also serves the International Youth Department of the Church of God in Christ as the President of Young Men of Valor and he serves the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) as Chaplain to the Higher Learning Pentecostal Ministries and Advisor to the praise-dance team, Anointed Vessels of Praise.

Here are some excerpts from the website of the Church of God in Christ International.

- …the doctrine of sanctification or holiness is emphasized, as being essential to the salvation of mankind.

- Our Church is commonly known as being Holiness or Pentecostal in nature…

- Our Church… had its origin within the General Association to the Baptist Church.
§ NOTE (The Church of God in Christ, commonly referred to by its acronym, COGIC, was formed in 1907 by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason (1866-1961), who was expelled from his Baptist church in the late 19th century due to his views and teachings of salvation, sanctification, and holiness. Wikipedia)

Under Bishop Mason's spiritual and apostolic direction our church has grown…to the largest Pentecostal group in America.

The following excerpts are from the church's doctrinal statement:

…the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is an experience subsequent to conversion and sanctification and that tongue-speaking is the consequence of the baptism in the Holy Ghost with the manifestations of the fruit of the spirit. When one receives a baptismal Holy Ghost experience, we believe one will speak with a tongue unknown to oneself according to the sovereign will of Christ. Since the charismatic demonstrations were necessary to help the early church to be successful in implementing the command of Christ, we therefore, believe that a Holy Ghost experience is mandatory for all men today.

The Church of God in Christ believes in and practices Divine Healing. It is a commandment of Jesus to the Apostles. Healing is still practiced widely and frequently in the Church of God in Christ…

Feet Washing is practiced and recognized as an ordinance in our Church…

Ben Stephens’ Bible education and theological training is from institutions that purposefully identify themselves as interdenominational, some of which have slipped into liberalism and/or apostasy.

The majority of his church, parachurch and academic affiliations and ministries are interdenominational in nature and predominantly and, in some cases, militantly, ethnocentric in origin and purpose.

His church is theologically apostolic and Pentecostal.

There are over 30 workshops listed for the Turn Your Campus event. Here is a sampling of some of the titles:

- Building a Faith That's Your Own
- Building Relationships with Pre-Believers
- Creative Prayer
- Cutters and Self Mutilation
- Drugs/Alcohol/Sex/Self-esteem
- Homosexuality: A Real Discussion
- Jesus and Sex - What is the Connection
- Kingdom of Me vs. Kingdom of God
- Know Your Rights on Campus
- Understanding Islam
- Using MySpace as God's Space/Facebook

There is insufficient information given for any responsible parent or youth worker to make informed judgments about content or appropriateness because there is no identification of speakers or their credentials and no description given for any of the workshops.

There are several organizations cooperating in this venue but the two major sponsors or partners are Biola University and Youth for Christ both of which are moderately evangelical at best and interdenominational in their reach and purpose.

For the sake of clarity and fairness, this youth conference might be good. I don’t know. I have spent over eight hours in the past week researching the event and trying to locate any articles, critiques or reliable testimonials about this event or any of them from the past. I could find nothing substantive.

From what little information there is available about the music and featured artists, a reasonable assumption is that it will resemble the typical, high energy, excessive volume, sub-cultural hip-hop/rap style.

I would hesitate to make any personal judgments about the speaker's racial attitudes or biases if he has any but it is interesting to note that the majority of his ministerial or professional associations are overtly and sometimes militantly, ethnocentric.

From a theologically fundamental, Baptistic Christian viewpoint, I would be suspicious of the interdenominational, liberal, charismatic, Pentecostal doctrinal positions of the speaker and the sponsors especially as they might influence the workshop topics.

As a parent, I would be reticent to allow my children to attend. As a Church leader, I would advise anyone who asked me, regardless of their denominational bent, to not allow their children to attend simply because there is not enough information available for responsible parenting.

And, I would think that a youth worker would not engage or encourage his young people to participate due to insufficient information to make an informed decision about its social or spiritual appropriateness.

From a fundamentalist church leader or pastoral perspective, I would be extremely suspect of this event’s doctrinal or theological safety, accuracy, value or appropriateness to endorse or participate in it unless or until the event promoters are more forthcoming and descriptive in their content, doctrine and purpose.

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