Exercising Discernment Through Biblical Extemporaneous By : Eric Meinerding

​I have known Eric Meinerding for quite a few years. I knew him as a growing competitor, I was at his house when he received a full ride scholarship into college, I’ve seen him grow spiritually, mentally, and physically. I’ve seen him now, graduate college and choose ministry, even though he very clearly could have gone straight to law school. I have seen him mentor and coach hundreds of students and I am so blessed to have him a part of the Lasting Impact! Team (after all he was one of the original Online Apologetics crew back in 2014). I am thrilled he wants to take lead on this Current Events Class/ Extemp Club!! Read his heart on what this fall class/club will look like…

Take a step back and consider the current cultural moment. The sheer amount of history occurring around us these past few months seems overwhelming. A humanitarian crisis is blistering Yemen, racial tensions have swept America, the UK officially left the European Union, Kanye West is running for president (or not, who knows?), and scientists have photographed a black hole for the first time. All of this and I haven’t even mentioned the global Covid-19 pandemic. It’s almost like every major news story decided to happen at once. Combine the amount of developing crises occurring simultaneously, with the speed at which information travels, people are constantly challenged with an ever increasing storm of information to process. This is where the gifts of wisdom and discernment come in. Proverbs 3:21 reads as, “My son do not lose sight of these – keep sound wisdom and discernment.” Developing a discerning mind with a soul yearning for Christ is a primary task for the modern believer.

​But what is discernment? There is a spiritual gift of discernment (1 John 4:1) that is generally considered to be the ability to discern the causes of certain effects, whether they be spiritual warfare, interventions by God, and those caused by the fallen nature of the flesh. While the reality of spiritual warfare must certainly be taken into account when processing the unfolding events of the modern world, that will not be the primary form of discernment emphasized in this class. Rather, students will develop a framework to “test” the truth of something, more akin to Paul’s writings in 1Thessalonians 5, and Romans 16:17. He emphasizes the importance of determining the difference between true and false wisdom and doctrine. Taking a cue from Paul’s advice in the early church, this course will be centered around building the necessary critical thinking skills to evaluate worldviews in light of new information.

​The world is not always black and white, in fact it rarely is. Even among the Church, there are a multitude of different “grey areas” for how Christians ought to engage with politics, social justice, the military, foreign aid, and a variety of other topics students may be handling in their extemp speeches. Sometimes, we are left with questions that may not have answers this side of heaven. But that does not mean we cannot seek out answers in Faith. What is the proper response to racial tension in America? Is the government properly responding to the coronavirus? Should America take in refugees? How should the church evangelize to the LGBTQ community? These are the tough, painful questions of the modern era. How then, do we go about answering them?

​I’ll insert an important disclaimer here. I will not be defending a definitive point of view in answering these questions. I will defend the authority of scripture in providing a framework as to how go about analyzing this issues, but that doesn’t mean there is a 100% correct answer that I’ll impose on students. The point of the class is to equip students with the mental and spiritual tools required to come to those conclusions in their personal walk with Christ, and then eloquently present those views in exempt speeches in competitive forensics tournaments.

​The setup of the class will be a combination of lecture and Socratic discussion among students on modern events and then alternating this with more specific competitive extemp speaking lessons. Essentially one week will be a Biblical discussion of current events, critical thinking, and logical argumentation, and the next will be a lecture or drill on applying that discussion to NCFCA/STOA extemp speeches. This provides a broad content pool for students to immerse themselves in. If your goal is to consistently win tournaments in extemp, spending every other week diving into a discussion around the news of the day will sharpen your background knowledge on the questions you draw in round. And if you’re just getting your feet wet with extemp, the combination of lectures and discussion will provide a comfortable environment to learn and develop the basics of extemporaneous speaking.

​The world is confusing, but young people don’t have to approach the news cycle of our time unarmed. God gave us minds that analyze, that think, that stew and simmer over new information for a reason. Through this class, it is my hope that students will not only grow in their critical thinking and analytical abilities, but also that their faith in Christ would grow. As ultimately, there is no truth apart from the Word, and nothing guaranteed apart from the promises of God.

​If you have any questions about the specifics of this class or my teaching philosophy regarding extemp and Biblical studies, please feel free to reach out. My email is eric.meinerding@campusoutreach.org. Look forward to having you in class! This is a concept I’ve been considering for a long time and am super excited to jump into modern events with students this fall!

Join this AWESOME Extemp Club NOW! Check out all of the Clubs and Classes in the SHOP at Lasting Impact! The 2020-21 Season is bigger than ever and we can’t wait to see what God has in store!