Written by: Megan England
“Jesus said he wants us to go out into all the nations and make disciples, teaching them to obey what I’ve commanded you. One of the things that Jesus taught us is that we’re not to be in the business of shedding innocent blood. He also tells us we are supposed to value our children. Part of the Great Commission of making disciples is to teach people not only how not to shed innocent blood, but to protect the innocent from the shedding of blood…” – Dr. Marc Newman, Speakers for Life
Our culture is at a crossroads—are human beings created in God’s image, or are they just expressions of matter whose only worth is that which is attributed to them by others? The debate isn’t just a philosophical one; bioethical issues affect every level of society, from the practical to the political.
Society today desperately needs a generation of pro-life leaders who are informed, professional, and well-spoken. Leaders who are prepared to defend and protect the innocent in ways that are more than abstract. Oklahoma Wesleyan is proud to join in bringing up a new generation of life-affirming apologists, politicians, and pregnancy center executives. The latest step in this mission is the new Pro-Life Training and Applied Bioethics program at OKWU.
The program came to OKWU by way of a partnership with two nationally recognized pro-life organizations: CareNet and Life Training Institute. A little over a year ago, Scott Klusendorf, Dr. Marc Newman, and John Ensor—all highly respected pro-life voices—put together a curriculum for a Pro-Life Training and Applied Bioethics baccalaureate degree and a certification program. The program is intended to provide pro-life students or midcareer people with the tools to make a case for the prolife view in the public forum.
“Our ability as Christians to persuade people depends on whether we can engage them in a winsome and attractive manner…” Klusendorf emphasizes. “[Our students] learn not only the intellectual arguments that are in play…they also learn how to engage people in a personal and yet persuasive manner. We think that balance of great content with a winsome, attractive apologetic is the hope for reaching this culture.”
They found the right home at Oklahoma Wesleyan. Working with key OKWU faculty to fine-tune the curriculum, the introductory courses were offered this July. The first class was led by Klusendorf, President of Life Training Institute and author of “The Case for Life: Equipping Students to Engage the Culture” and “Stand for Life” (with John Ensor). Scott has taught pro-life apologetics at the graduate level, and been a lecturer and speaker at debates with opponents ranging from the ACLU to Planned Parenthood. He has also appeared on a number of nationally syndicated programs. Scott’s class, Ethics of Abortion, focused on content—the logic and reasoning of the pro-life argument. Said one student, “I’ve always been pro-life, and my reasons…were basically spiritual, and that’s great. However, I didn’t have the tools I needed to defend my viewpoint [to] others—the scientific reasons, the philosophical reasons…I just didn’t know how to respond. This course has equipped me to do that.”
There was a comfortable camaraderie in the classroom at that first class, despite the fact that many of the students had never met, and were from locations all across the country. From radio personalities to directors of pregnancy resource centers, they shared a common passion and determination to defend the rights of our society’s most vulnerable, and do it with excellence.
The same atmosphere carried into the second week of training, with Dr. Marc Newman, who led the Public Speaking class. Dr. Newman is the founder and president of Speaker for Life, a training firm dedicated to equipping pro-life advocates with public speaking skills. With a PhD in Communications and more than 25 years of experience in training speakers as a professor and consultant, Dr. Newman is uniquely suited to his role.
Upon completing the 2015 session, students earned a certificate in Pro-Life Ministry Essentials. The next session, planned for the summer of 2016, will complete the second certification, in Pro-Life Training. The Pro-Life Training certificate includes a Non-Profit Organization, Development, and Management class, as well as a Foundations of Life Training class.
The certificate courses are just the first part of OKWU’s Pro-Life & Applied Bioethics program plan. The University and guest instructors are looking forward to the creation of an Applied Bioethics degree, which will prepare students for vocational work in pro-life apologetics, political consulting, or for an executive role in the growing pregnancy help center and medical clinic movement.
Dr. Newman summed up the future possibilities of this program like this:
“Now we have the beginnings of a program, [we] have a student that can say, ‘I came from the Oklahoma Wesleyan University Applied Bioethics Program and I’ve got my certification or I’ve got my degree…I can make an outstanding case for the sanctity of human life at a church, at a school, at a civic group. I know how to raise money for this organization and help people who want to provide prayer support, financial support, or volunteer for the center… I can talk with pastors, but I can also talk with lay people …from an adept theological perspective…I also know how to cite, develop, and manage a 501(c)3 corporation.’ That’s what our students will know how to do just after the first four classes.”
In a culture that continues to devalue life, OKWU is unapologetic in our commitment to the truth. “The Wesleyan Church is explicitly and unequivocally pro-life,” said Dr. Everett Piper, OKWU President, “We humbly acknowledge that God defines life and that men do not.”
For more information about the program, visit OKWU.edu/bioethics.