Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How to teach a basic pro-life seminar

Life Training Institute has posted an outline that shows how to prepare and present a pro-life seminar. (H/T Mary)

Here is an outline of their outline, with all the details and links removed:

Suggested Text: The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture (Crossway, 2009)

Thesis: To be an effective pro-life apologist, you must meet 3 key objectives:

1) You must simplify the issue
2) You must make a persuasive case using science and philosophy
3) You must handle objections graciously and incisively

I. Effective pro-life apologists simplify the issue by focusing the debate on one question, What is the unborn?

A. Example: Daddy can I kill this? (Koukl) That depends: What is it?
B. Debate w/ Nadine Strossen: “I agree, IF. If What?
C. Trot out a toddler for objections based on privacy, trusting women, poverty, etc.
D. Visuals: Use them to awaken moral intuitions, but use them wisely.

II. Effective pro-life apologists make a persuasive case for the lives of the unborn w/ science and philosophy.

A. Science: From the beginning, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings.

B. Philosophy: There is no essential difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today that would justify killing you at that earlier stage of development

III. Effective pro-life apologists answer objections persuasively.

A. Columbo Tactic (Koukl)

B. The 3 Columbo questions:

C. Eight bad ways people argue about abortion

Please take a look. If anyone in the USA or Canada would like a copy of the book, I have 4 extra ones to give away. Just send your address to me by e-mail or Facebook and I will send you one, especially if you would like to use it to present a seminar like this one or teach a course in your church.

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Responses to popular pro-choice arguments

A very good read to make sure that you can handle the obvious ones, from Neil Shenvi, Ph.D.

Here are the objections:

  • “Women have a right to do what they want with their own bodies.”
  • “The government has no right to make laws telling a woman she can’t have an abortion”
  • “The unborn is not a human being, it is just a mass of cells.”
  • “Until the fetus has a heart and brain, it is not a human being.”
  • “It is moral to kill a fetus as long as it feels no pain.”
  • “No one should be forced to carry and raise the child of their rapist.”
  • “Making abortion illegal will not decrease abortion; it will only make drive it underground and make it less safe.”
  • “Laws should not be based on religion”
  • “If you are opposed to abortion, don’t have one.”
  • “We should combat abortion by reducing poverty, not by making it illegal.”
  • “Most people (i.e., men) who are against abortion will never even become pregnant.”

And here’s the detail on one of them:

“Women have a right to do what they want with their own bodies.”

The fundamental problem with this objection is that it assumes that laws against abortion are primarily concerned with what a woman can and cannot do to her own body. But they are not. Why? Ask yourself a simple question: how many brains does a woman have? One. But how many brains does a pregnant woman have? Still one. The woman’s body is not the issue in abortion: the baby’s body is. The developing fetus has a complete set of human DNA different than the mother’s. It has its own circulatory system, its own brain, its own fingers and toes and arms and legs. If it is a male, it even has a different gender than the mother. Therefore, the fetus is clearly not just ‘part of the woman’s body’. Laws against abortion aren’t telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body; they are telling a woman what she can and cannot do with someone else’s body.

Read them all, and pass them along.

You can find more answers to pro-choice questions here, from Dr. Francis Beckwith. These are the early versions to some of the arguments that later ended up in his academic book on pro-life apologetics entitled “Defending Life“, published by Cambridge University Press. The best introductory book on pro-life arguments is Scott Klusendorf’s “The Case for Life“.  I really recommend that one, because he is the top pro-life debater in the world, and he speaks from that experience of dealing with pro-choice arguments in public debates.

Further study

Learn about the pro-life case:

And some posts motivating Christians and conservatives to take abortion seriously:

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Sean McDowell explains the pro-life view to ordinary people in an ordinary church

Ordinary:

42 minutes – worth your time. There are some graphic images of aborted babies in each trimester in the last couple of minutes, so close your eyes!

Learn about the pro-life case

And some posts motivating Christians and conservatives to take abortion seriously:

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Responding to pro-choice rhetoric: “don’t like abortion? don’t have one!”

Top pro-life debater Scott Klusendorf reports on his recent lecture at Colgate University.

Excerpt:

During the extended question and answer, a polite female student replied (paraphrase), “I’m against abortion and will never have one. If one of my friends gets pregnant and wants an abortion, I will do everything I can to talk her out of it. But I don’t want the government involved in taking away a woman’s choice. I guess that’s why I’m against abortion and am pro-choice.”

The student was hardly alone. She was echoing the sentiments of millions of Americans who personally dislike abortion but do not identify as pro-life. Their beliefs are perfectly summed up in this popular bumper sticker: “Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one.”

Notice the bumper sticker completely transforms the nature of the abortion debate with a single word—“like.”

When pro-life advocates claim that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being, they aren’t saying they dislike abortion. They are saying it’s objectively wrong, regardless of how one feels about it. Notice what’s going on here. The pro-life advocate makes a moral claim that he believes is objectively true—namely, that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. The abortion-choice advocate responds by changing that objective truth claim into a subjective one about likes and dislikes, as if the pro-lifer were talking about a mere preference. But this misses the point entirely. As Francis J. Beckwith points out, pro-life advocates don’t oppose abortion because they find it distasteful; they oppose it because it violates rational moral principles.

Imagine if I said, “Don’t like slavery? Then don’t own a slave.” Or, “Don’t like spousal abuse? Then don’t beat your wife!” If I said such things, you would immediately realize I don’t grasp why slavery and spousal abuse are wrong. They are not wrong because I personally dislike them. They are wrong because slaves and spouses are intrinsically valuable human beings who have a natural right not to be treated as property. Whether I personally like slavery or spousal abuse is completely beside the point. If I liked spousal abuse, you would rightly say I was sick! You wouldn’t resign yourself to, “I guess abuse is right for you but not for me.”

And yet this is precisely what the pro-choicer does. He reduces abortion to a mere preference and then declares, “Hands off! Keep the government out of the abortion business!”

Some choices are wrong. We can do better than abortion.

Learn about the pro-life case:

And some posts motivating Christians and conservatives to take abortion seriously:

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Jim Wallace and the case-making Christian

To make a good case, you need to be prepared

To make a good case, you need to be prepared

I found an interesting post by Jim Wallace of Please Convince Me. (H/T The Poached Egg)

Wallace responds to the alarming statistics of Christians abandoning their faith as soon as they get to university, often because of intellectual doubts. He also notes that many young Christians who don’t fall away don’t really have a Biblical worldview at all.

Here’s the problem:

Many students are walking away from Christianity because they no longer believe it is true. In a survey conducted by sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Denton and recorded in their book, “Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers” (Oxford University Press, 2005), 32% of former believers said they left because of intellectual skepticism…

The young Christians who were surveyed said that they believed in the existence of a God who created and ordered the world and watches over human life here on earth. They also believe that this God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, (as they claimed the Bible teaches, and as most other world religions also teach). They said that the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. They did not believe that God needed to be involved in one’s life except when He is required to solve a problem, and they said that good people go to heaven when they die. Not much of this version of “Christianity” resonates with the classic, orthodox truth of the Christian Worldview, does it?

And here’s his solution, passionately argued:

When asked what it means to be a Christian, few of us would respond that being a Christian means becoming a ‘defender of the faith’. Most of us shy away from challengers and those who hold opposing beliefs; many of us are uncomfortable with the potential confrontation. But being a Christian demands that we become proficient “case makers”. Think about it for a minute. We would all agree that our salvation does not depend on our ability to defend what we believe. After all, we are saved when we trust Jesus for our salvation and recognize that we are fallen, sinful creatures in need of a Savior. When we recognize that Jesus is God incarnate and paid the penalty that we deserve, we begin to embrace the promise of God to rescue us from ourselves! This trust in Christ as Lord and Savior is what saves us.

But we need to recognize that our Christian life is more than one of trust. It is also a life of knowledge and expression. God has called us to think about what we believe and defend it to those who might challenge us or simply ask questions (more on that HERE). Christian “case makers” who have accepted this challenge are often called “apologists”. The word “apologist” comes from the Greek word “apologia” which simply means “speaking a defense”. The term does have some liability, however, for a couple of reasons. First, the related term, “apology” leaves many with the impression that Christians think they have something to apologize for when they engage in “apologetics”. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. Secondly, our present culture has a tendency to view apologists as professional speakers of one kind or another. Even Christians tend to think of apologetics as something to be done by professionals, rather than an important responsibility to be embraced by each and every Christian. It’s time to recognize the fact that all Christians are called to be a Christian “case makers”; the situation couldn’t be more urgent.

[…]There’s a reason why God calls us to worship Him with our minds, understand the value of evidence, examine our beliefs until we are convinced, and then become Christian “case makers” (more on that HERE)! While it is our faith and trust in Christ that saves us, it is our ability to make the case for Christ that protects us and transforms our world. We need to become “case makers” just as Paul was a “tent maker”. “Case making” needs to be a part of our Christian identity, and all of us need to be apologists for the Christian Worldview. We cannot continue to delegate this responsibility to well known apologists and Christian authors. We don’t need one ‘million dollar apologist’; we need a million ‘one dollar apologists’. All of us can be equipped to defend our faith; it doesn’t require a master’s degree in apologetics; it doesn’t require a library full of books, or a radio show, or a podcast. It simply requires the personal commitment to learn the truth and defend it to others.

This article is pretty long, but it has a lot of information based on his experience as a cold case police detective.

Here’s a snippet that should get you to read the whole thing:

Call Witnesses Selectively

Once the Opening Statements have been made, it’s time to begin presenting the evidence to the jury. Much of this evidence will simply be the testimony of important expert witnesses. The attorneys have to select these witnesses carefully and judiciously. Each case is different and will require specific types of experts. Some cases require DNA experts, others require experts in material evidence; some cases require coroners or doctors, others require weapons specialists. The attorneys have the burden of deciding which types of experts will be needed to best make the case.

As a Christian…

I’ve got to do something very similar if I want to be a “Case Making” Christian. While I may be very familiar with the scientific or philosophical work that has been done on a particular topic, I have to be careful not to overload the conversation with the opinions of too many “expert witnesses”. I have to be specific and targeted in the way that I bring experts into the conversation. I also need to be well versed in the work that these experts have done so that I can accurately quote them.

A “Case Making” Tip:

Become a specialist. It’s important to have a broad understanding of a number of apologetic issues, but I know there are some places where I am weak, and some places where I am stronger. I try to focus on those areas that are off special interest to me and it’s in these areas that I am most familiar with the experts in the field. See yourself as the foreman on a jury. You and I don’t have to BE expert witnesses; we simply need to be able to reiterate what the expert witnesses have said once we get back in the jury room with the other jurors.

This is point #3 in his list of 7 points. He’s basically saying that you have to be able to represent the work of the experts intelligently, instead of just reading what they’ve written out loud, which could take forever. You need to read the experts, and then support your case with relevant quotes from the experts, showing how they support arguments that you understand – because you made them. And this preparation and specialization is not based on what is easy for you, or based on what you like, but is instead based on what is effective for your audience. If your audience finds science appealing, then to science you will go. Hint: most men like science, math and computers. Whatever you choose, logic, science, history – it has to be focused on demonstrating the truth of Christianity – NOT Christianity as life-enhancement.

 

Call Witnesses Selectively
Once the Opening Statements have been made, it’s time to begin presenting the evidence to the jury. Much of this evidence will simply be the testimony of important expert witnesses. The attorneys have to select these witnesses carefully and judiciously. Each case is different and will require specific types of experts. Some cases require DNA experts, others require experts in material evidence; some cases require coroners or doctors, others require weapons specialists. The attorneys have the burden of deciding which types of experts will be needed to best make the case.
As a Christian…
I’ve got to do something very similar if I want to be a “Case Making” Christian. While I may be very familiar with the scientific or philosophical work that has been done on a particular topic, I have to be careful not to overload the conversation with the opinions of too many “expert witnesses”. I have to be specific and targeted in the way that I bring experts into the conversation. I also need to be well versed in the work that these experts have done so that I can accurately quote them.
A “Case Making” Tip:
Become a specialist. It’s important to have a broad understanding of a number of apologetic issues, but I know there are some places where I am weak, and some places where I am stronger. I try to focus on those areas that are off special interest to me and it’s in these areas that I am most familiar with the experts in the field. See yourself as the foreman on a jury. You and I don’t have to BE expert witnesses; we simply need to be able to reiterate what the expert witnesses have said once we get back in the jury room with the other jurors.

 

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