Friday, November 27, 2009

Worldview Course for High School Students [SK]

Since August 31, Jay Watts, Megan Almon, and yours truly have been teaching a one-year course in apologetics at a Christian school co-op. Here's a rough outline of what we covered this semester (we modified a few things to match student ability), along with a peak of what is coming next semester.

Semester #1: Foundations--Five Questions to Answer Before College
(Scott Klusendorf, Jay Watts, Megan Almon)

Books: Scott Klusendorf, The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture; Ken Samples, A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth Claims to the Worldview Test; Jonathan Morrow, Welcome to College: A Christ Follower's Guide for the Journey.

Introduction (August 31): Jay Watts sets the stage w/ a role play (“Jay the atheist”)

Question I:. What Makes Humans Valuable? Resolving Debates over Abortion, Embryonic Stem Cell Research, and Cloning.

Session #1: Clarifying the Debate Part 1 (Case for Life, introduction and pp. 19-47)

Session #2: Clarifying the Debate Part 2 (CFL pp. 50-88)

Session #3: Establishing a Foundation Part 1: Name my Claim (CFL, pp. 91-110)

Session #4: Establishing a Foundation Part 2: Does God Matter? (CFL, pp. 111-133)

Session #5: Establishing a Foundation Part 3: Is the Bible Silent? (CFL, pp. 135-145, 205-224)

Session #6: Answering Objections Persuasively Part 1: Columbo Tactic (CFL, pp. 149-171)

Session #7: Answering Objections Persuasively Part 2: Bad Ways to Argue (CFL, pp. 173-201)

Question II: Is Truth True? Why Relativism and Postmodernism Can’t Explain Our World

Session #8: The Case Against Post-Modernism (Handout plus Welcome to College, pp. 19-59)

Session #9: The Case Against Relativism (Handout plus WTC, pp. 62-70, 111-116 and Koukl/Beckwith "Relativism" DVD)

Question III: How Do I Get Out of the Hotseat?

Session #10: Columbo Tactic Revisited Part 1 (Handout and workbook provided by teacher)

Session #11: Columbo Tactic Revisited Part 2 (Handout and workbook assigned readings)

Question IV: Does God Matter? (Or, Am I Just Matter?—And Why Does it Matter?)

Session #12: Debate: “Does God Exist?” Part 1: Craig vs. Hitchens (WTC, pp. 97-125, 143-149)

Session #13: Debate: “Does God Exist?” Part 2: Craig vs. Hitchens (Handout)

Question V: Resurrection: Fact or Fiction?

Session #14: The Case for resurrection--Did Christians borrow the idea of resurrection? (WTC pp. 127-142, CFL pp. 125-30)

Session #15: What 1 Cor. 15 Teaches us About Resurrection

Here's a sneak preview of the reading topics for next semester:

Semester #2: Confident Christianity: Can My Faith Compete in the Real World? (That Is, How Does it Stack Up Against Other Worldviews?)

The Big Idea: In addition to teaching the basic rules of logic, Ken Samples explores the Christian worldview then evaluates it in light of four competing views: 1) naturalism, 2) postmodernism, 3) pantheism, and 4) Islam. He uses up to 9 distinct tests to assess each worldview:

1. Coherence test: Is this worldview logically consistent?
2. Explanatory power test: How well does this worldview make sense of reality?
3. Existential test: Does this view adequately address the internal needs of man?
4. Balance test: Is this worldview properly balanced between simplicity and complexity?
5. Correspondence test: Does this worldview correspond with empirical facts and a person’s experience in the world?
6. Verification test: Can the central truth claims of the worldview be verified of falsified?
7. Pragmatic test: Does the worldview promote relevant, practical, and workable results?
8. Cumulative test: Do multiple lines of evidence support this particular worldview?
9. Competitive competence test: Can this worldview successfully compete in the marketplace of ideas?

Table of Contents:

Part 1: Developing a Worldview Perspective:

1. Shades of Reality (What is a worldview?)
2. Testable Truth (How to evaluate worldviews)
3. Logic 101 and Christian truth
4. Straight thinking (How to avoid fallacious thinking)

Part 2: Exploring the Christian Worldview:

5. A Christian Vision of Truth, Knowledge, and History
6. A Soldier’s Creed (Essential Christian doctrines)
7. God’s Written Word—Scripture (How we got our Bible, etc.)
8. The Historic Christian View of God
9. God’s World—Creation and Providence (and why those ideas impact everything else)
10. The Historic Christian View of Man
11. The Historic Christian View of Moral Values

Part 3: Evaluating Worldview Competitors:

12. Naturalism: A Secular Worldview Challenge
13. Postmodernism: A Skeptical Worldview Perspective
14. Pantheistic Monism: An Eastern worldview Perspective
15. Islam: A Radical Monotheistic Challenge
16. Testing the Christian Theistic Worldview

In addtion, we'll do selected readings from Jonathan Morrow, Welcome to College: A Christ Follower’s Guide for the Journey (Grand Rapids: Kagel, 2008):

1. Preparing for Campus Life
2. Think Christianly: Cultivating a Christian Worldview
3. Getting Theological: Knowing and Loving God
4. Blinded by Faith?
5. Can we Know Anything at All?
6. Wanted—Seekers of Truth
7. A Moral Disaster: Why Moral Relativism is a Bad Idea
8. True Tolerance: Tolerance Just Ain’t What it Used to Be
9. How to Read the Bible (Supplement w/ Koukl’s booklet)
10. Can I Trust the Bible?
11. Knowing vs. Sharing Your Faith
12. No Apologies Needed
13. The Existence of God: God is There and is not Silent
14. Do All Roads Lead to God?
15. The Problem of Evil and Suffering
16. Thirty One Flavors of Jesus
17. Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?
18. Science Rules!
19. Designed or Not Designed?
20. Dealing with Doubt
21. Good News to Share

(We’ll also consider selected readings from chapters 22 through 42 as needed, as well as supplemental STR and Reasonable Faith material.)


  1. Will there ever be an audio set of this course for those unable to attend, who would still love to hear the messages, engage in self-study, or work with students? I'm in California and have worked with our High School group for many years as an interim teacher when we've been without a Youth Pastor.
    I have the "Making Abortion Unthinkable" curriculum, but with your course specifically aimed at High School level, I'd love to be able to see about obtaining it, or if you could recommend materials to supplement the outline you've listed, maybe even a more detailed syllabus, to add to the outline.

    Thank you so much, and God bless your most important efforts!

    Hugo Schraer

  2. Hugo, Thanks for the kind words. We have not recorded this material, as we are still working out the kinks. For one thing, we had to adjust the pace--the kids were not as fast grasping the material as we first thought. But if we do record anything, we'll make a note here on the blog.

  3. Looks like a fantastic curriculum! I'd be interested in seeing the handouts you provide your students, if possible.


    Christian Henderson
    Director, Alpha Academy


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