The Athens Conference

Biblical Apologetics in Today’s World

May 17-18, 2019 in Katy, Texas

(Registration form is at the bottom of this page)


Dr. Stephen J. Nichols

is president of Reformation Bible College, chief academic officer for Ligonier Ministries, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is host of the podcasts 5 Minutes in Church History and Open Book. He is author of numerous books, including For Us and for Our Salvation, Peace, A Time for Confidence, and volumes in the Guided Tour series on Jonathan Edwards, Martin Luther, and J. Gresham Machen. He is coeditor of The Legacy of Luther and Crossway’s Theologians on the Christian Life series. He is on Twitter at @DrSteveNichols.

Robert Arendale 01.jpg

Rev. Robert Arendale

(MDiv, M.Ec.) serves as the Executive Director of Reformed Theological Seminary, Houston, TX. Prior to his labors with RTS, Rev. Arendale served for 6 years as church planter and pastor of Cornerstone OPC in NW Houston. Following his graduation from Baylor University, he attended North Carolina State University to pursue graduate studies in Economics. The Lord then placed on his heart a burden for pastoral ministry; and he and his family moved from Raleigh to Charlotte where Robert attended Reformed Theological Seminary. Robert is married to Christy and they have three children ages 10, 7, and 5.

Conference at a glance

  • Dates: May 17-18, 2019 (Friday: 6:45p-8:45p; Saturday: 8:45a-4:00p)

  • Location: Christ Church, 10818 Gaston Road, Katy, TX 77494 (see below).

  • Book sales and conference give-away items.

  • Registration: $10 early registration; $15.00 normal registration (registration form below).

  • Questions: ; (541) 450-1982

Missionary Paul, in Acts 17, made an unscheduled stop at the city of Athens, and soon fixed his eyes on the landscape full of idols. And the idolatry provoked him—big time. Walking up a street and around the corner, everywhere he went, there were idols; it’s evidence of the worship of the creature rather than the Creator. Paul turned to evangelism. What motivated him? It’s the fact: Jesus Christ is Lord! Like this story in Acts 17, The Athens Conference presents the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the second person of the Trinity, had power to lay down his life at the cross and power to take it up again in his resurrection. With the centrality of the Lordship of God, who is our Triune God, you’ll be equipped to address the hearts and minds of all people who are motivated by reflections, yearnings, convictions, and devotion. Paul had his Athens, we have our Houston. Our goal is to learn to speak and live the truth of Jesus Christ, setting forth answers and giving a defense to everyone who asks why we live the way we do, giving them hope, and at the same time showing gentleness and respect.

Conference Location

Hosted and Sponsored by Good Shepherd OPC, Richmond, TX

Hosted and Sponsored by Good Shepherd OPC, Richmond, TX

Venue for Conference is at Christ Church PCA - Katy, TX

Venue for Conference is at Christ Church PCA - Katy, TX


This is a preliminary schedule of talks and seminars. They are subject to change in the coming days and weeks as the conference draws closer

Plenary Talks

  • Dr. Stephen Nichols God-Centered Apologetics in Today’s World: (4 talks)

Friday evening - two talks

Saturday - two talks

  • The Rev. Robert Arendale (Executive Director, RTS/Houston) The Church and Her Calling (2 talks)

Saturday only - two talks

Friday, May 17th

  • Registration / Coffee 6:00-6:45 pm

  • Welcome 6:45 pm

  • Session 1 - Stephen Nichols 7:00 - 7:40 pm

  • Session 2 - Stephen Nichols 7:50- 8:30 pm

Saturday, May 18th

  • Registration / Coffee, pastries 8:00-8:40 am

  • Welcome 8:45

  • Session 3- Robert Arendale 9:00 - 9:45 am

  • Session 4 Stephen Nichols 10:00-10:45 am

  • Breakout Sessions 11:00-11:45 am

Lunch 11:45 am-12:50 pm

  • Breakout Sessions 1:00-1:45 pm

  • Session 5 Robert Arendale 2:00-2:45pm

  • Session 6 Stephen Nichols 3:00-3:45pm

  • Closing

Breakout Sessions, 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM.

On Saturday, there will be breakout sessions before and after lunch. See below some of the timely topics and speakers lined up so far. Keep checking back for more topics.


Counseling Difficult Marriages

Todd Bordow

With the further breakdown of marriage affecting culture and the church, how do pastors and elders handle marriage difficulties leading to divorce? This breakout session evaluates the current views on the grounds for divorce and offers a strategy for church leaders dealing with troubled marriages heading for divorce in the church.

Todd Bordow: Todd currently serves as the pastor of Cornerstone OPC in Houston. He received his BA from Arizona College of the Bible, his MDiv from Westminster Seminary California, and his Doctor of Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando. The Rev. Doctor Bordow has planted three churches for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He and his wife Cheryl have been married for 32 years, and they have five children.


Smartphone Addiction: Using Augustine’s “rightly ordered loves” to Shepherd the i-Gen...and Ourselves

Brad Finkbeiner

If left unchecked, our disordered loves of tech will erode our intellects, our affections, and our relationship with God and other people. This will be a condensed presentation of a seminar I give to parents on helping their teens (and themselves) to reorder their loves as it relates to smartphones, social media, and video games.

Brad Finkbeiner: Brad teaches Ethics and Apologetics at Providence Classical School. He studied Theology at Washington Bible College and Philosophy at St. John’s College.


Let’s Go Die! Biblical Eschatology, Hospice, and some Practical and Ethical Considerations of Death and Dying.

Phil Hodson

The Apostle Paul declares, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The writer of Hebrews speaks of Jesus delivering us from fear of death. When physical death looms for us or our loved ones, how can Christians respond? When death hasn’t yet loomed, how must we relate to it? In a culture terrified to die, obsessed with medical solutions, and dreading the grave, Christians have a unique opportunity to bear witness to the life of the world to come. Come consider how.

Phil Hodson: Phil is pastor of Christ the King OPC in Longview, TX, as well as Director of Chaplain Services at Heartsway Hospice of Northeast Texas. Phil and his wife Amy and their two children live in Longview with four dogs.


Modern Revival of Witchcraft in the West

Nick Lammé

As the West has increasingly detached itself from its Christian past, it has sought refuge in the revival of ancient paganism and its practices. This revival can be seen in the prominence of witchcraft in popular culture as a pagan worldview is being marketed and normalized. It is incumbent upon the church to develop an apologetic which not only recognizes the problem, but seeks to engage those who are being led astray.

Nick Lammé earned the M. Div from Mid-America Reformed Seminary and an M.Ed. from the Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencias y Tecnología. The Lammé family lives in Houston. Nick, who serves in the OPC, currently ministers full-time to families and singles affected by the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.


Giving My Neighbor Hope

Carl Miller

True hope is found only in Jesus Christ. Based on a Christ-centered, biblical foundation, this breakout session will provide practical tools to equip you to give hope to those who are hurting and hopeless.

Carl Miller: Carl is a minister (M.A., LPC); and serves as Lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary in Houston. He has many years of experience in pastoral ministry and professional counseling.


Why Does God Allow Suffering?


Bob Roane

Is God in control of our world troubled by sin, evil, troubles, and trials? What is His purpose? How does Jesus’ death and resurrection fit in? Is there hope for a despairing world? This breakout session offers hope and help with difficult questions and hard times. Standing in God's grace and holding fast to His truth is strength for our living and our witness before our neighbors, friends, and co-workers.

Bob Roane: Dr. Bob Roane has served in pastoral ministry since 1980 and currently serves with Words of Hope Bible Ministry here in Houston. He holds degrees from Pace University (New York), Westminister Seminary (Philadelphia), and Reformed Seminary (Charlotte). His current ministry focuses on teaching, counseling, evangelism, and prison ministry.


Christ for the World We Sing: Worship and Apologetics

Mark Sumpter

Setting forth hope and truth before a watching world means singing well in worship. In this breakout session, we consider public worship as the foundation for all of life—it gives shape to issues like: time & work, gifts & hospitality, manhood & womanhood, authority & submission, and more! Worship disciples us, that we might always be ready to offer a reason for the hope we have (1 Pet. 3:15).

Mark Sumpter: Mark serves as a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, assisting groups of folks who desire to start new churches in the Southwest. He and his wife, Peggy, have six children and ten grandchildren. They live in Sugar Land.


Apologetics 101—A Tool Box of Terms and Definitions

Adam York

You likely hear your pastor use words like worldview and antithesis. This breakout session will survey the basic terms and issues in apologetics. It will focus on the historical narrative of Genesis 1-3 in order to provide easy to understand basis for grasping the sometimes complex discussion of apologetics. It is hoped that this will equip you with a general orientation for putting your best foot forward in conversations, where you are seeking to defend and confirm God’s truth. Scriptures, terms, definitions, and a few points about practical application will be featured.

Adam York: Adam serves as pastor of Providence OPC in Kingwood, TX. He grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee (Knoxville) where he met his wife, Pamela. He went to seminary at Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido, California. He and Pamela live in Kingwood, TX with their two children, Anna and Jonathan.


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