Philosophy of the Lecture Outline

Having been a public speaker for over forty years, I have realized that offering an audience a lecture outline can fortify and increase the knowledge the speaker wants to communicate. Outlines help the listener follow the speaker, as well as giving the listener the opportunity to follow up on the topic presented. Consider the parts of a lecture outline—or at least how I make them. 

1. The speaker should be identified by his or her full name, title, and institutional affiliation. This helps give a strong ethos to the presentation, if the speaker is so qualified. You can also include contact information. For my outlines, I write:

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary.

2.Putting the date and occasion of the lecture grounds it in history and place, which may end up being important.

Vertitas Forum, Anchorage, Alaska, April 10, 2021.

3. The title of the lecture should be accurate, interesting, but not too cute, since unnecessary wit can detract from one’s gravitas. The title may include a subtitle.

Critical Theory: A Biblical and Logical Critique

4. An opening quote can set the tone for the lecture. It may be a Bible verse or a quote from a noteworthy figure, such as Blaise Pascal. 

5. Sections and subsections structure the lecture and assist the listener in following the speaker. Be consistent in the form you use. I use the following:

  1. God and Suffering
    1. The biblical view
      1. Creation (Genesis 1-2)
      2. Fall (Genesis 3)
      3. Redemption (Romans 4-8)
    2. Philosophical issues
      1. God’s perfect goodness
      2. God’s unlimited power
      3. The existence of evil
      4. Are (1), (2), and (3) logically compatible?

6. Leave space between each major section so that the listener can add notes if desired.

7. The outline may include more quotations from the Bible or other sources, but they should not be too long. It is good to give the reference to the quotation, so the listener can look this up.

8. Ending the lecture outline with a bibliography encourages the listener to follow up on the topic with further reading and discovery. I emphasize books and journals, but sometimes include DVDs and web pages. I don’t usually give a full bibliography reference—as would be required in academic writing, but enough to properly identify the source.

For Further Study

  1. Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There (InterVarsity Press, 1968).
  2. Apologetics web page for Reasonable Faith, the ministry of William Lane Craig: 
  3. Videos on Intelligent Design by Illustra Video.

Lecture outlines are not required for every public lecture or sermon, but the more demanding the material, the more a clear and compelling outline is needed. Some argue that lecture outlines should be avoided, since listeners may get distracted by the outline and not listen to the speaker. True enough, but if the speaker and listener follow the outline and the lecture is compelling, this is unlikely to occur. 

I view lecture outlines as part of God’s mission to bring truth and reconciliation to the world (Matthew 6:33). As such, we should value them highly and work on them diligently. 

4 thoughts on “Philosophy of the Lecture Outline

  1. I no longer believe apologetics serves a necessary purpose. I have read too many apologists talk about the importance of critical thinking and write high falutin’ essays that just don’t get to the heart of the matter.

    The reason why people read a Bible isn’t to learn to think critically or to master an argument. Jesus uses the Bible to build the mind of Christ in his people. The mind of Christ isn’t the old man’s ability to think critically so he can win an argument and I am really fed up with watching some Christians walk on eggshells around unbelievers as if they have a burden to appear rational. Rational? I hate that word, too, It’s unbiblical and a worldly pretentious word usually being used by someone who made a false idol out of faulty human reasoning or logic.

    Apologetics I suspect has become a cottage industry for some people who are writing and selling books in promotion of it and getting a certain celebrity from debating publicly. As well getting well paid jobs at Christian universities. I am sure a lot of the apologists are actually Christians too but I think some how they just felt so satisfied engaging in all this philosophical reasoning that they thought all these high profile debates were actually doing something more than they actually are.

    If more apologists were actually fulfilling the Great Commission and delivering the Gospel I think they would see all the damage this arguing has done. Atheists just popping up on Christian theist non profit facebook pages and on Christian sites and teaching blogs is happening all over the Internet and what these apologetics arguments and debates have done is fostered a false idea in these rebellious atheists’ heads that they have something valid to say about the Bible. Why? Because the foolish apologists let them air their arguments publicly without rebuking them and that actually are stupid enough to answer these blasphemous arguments when they should have delivered the FULL truth of the Gospel message and explained that an unbeliever was not qualified to speak on the Bible, the scriptures, God or Jesus.
    In math you don’t take on algebra without a foundational knowledge of adding and subtracting, division and multiplication.
    The same thing is true of the Bible. Without a foundational knowledge of Jesus and acknowledgment of him the person remains spiritually dead, blind and unenlightened.
    Do you know where this point is slammed home? When you give people the Gospel. Actually stick to it and tell them they are slaves to sin and that includes their intellects and wills. That they are in truth unable to comprehend the scriptures as long as they are slaves to sin.
    But do apologists take the direct route given by the scriptures and Jesus that tells people to examine themselves? No they don’t. The scriptures say these people are engaging in self deception and that allows their sin to rule them. So instead of letting them know they actually have the mind and will problems from suppressing God an apologist prefers to skirt all that and go off on a tangent. Arguing the creation, evolution, moral relativism….blah, blah, blah, blah….anything but get to the heart of the matter and make these people examine what the noetic effects of sin are and examining it in themselves.
    Without which they cannot repent, admit God is right and turn to Christ.

    So thanks apologetics for mastering everything under the sun instead of being an obedient Christian who actually can deliver the Gospel and explain the perspective of God to people. The only opinion that really counts. Not these one thousand and one worldly topics people like to go off on to demonstrate hiw reasonable their believing is. Who cares if it doesn’t get the job done and actually save someone.

    I hope I didn’t offend anyone but that is just the truth as I see it and learned the hard way by dealing with hundreds and hundreds of blaspheming, mocking and thoroughly scripturally blind atheists who’s arguments should never be taken seriously. Without the gift of faith none of them is enlightened enough to see God’s point so stop the endless argumentative circle jerking with them and give the Gospel truth. They are spiritually dead and uncomprehending so long as they continue to engage in rebellious self deception and arguing.

    God bless to eveyone reading!

  2. Genesis 21:
    9And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. 10Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. 11And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. 12And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

    Modern day apologetics is a part of the Laodicean Church. Do you know what apologists do better than just about any of the more learned Christians? They can dissect false religions and gospels and expose them for the counterfeits they are if the apologist himself researches and looks into things and refuses to be deceived.

    But the Laodicean Age apologists may have grown soft on sin and are deceived by other counterfeit Christian groups into not doing what is necessary which is to throw out the bond woman’s child and there are quite a few of these children under different names and different backgrounds and ideologies.

    It’s better to be an evangelical evangelist than a modern day apologist being venerated for his knowledge and reason. Because man’s reason and knowledge are a big part of people’s problem as they can be used against God cf John 7:17.

    From 2 John 1:

    Beware of Deceivers
    7For many deceivers have gone out into the world, refusing to confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8Watch yourselves, so that you do not lose what we have worked for,a but that you may be fully rewarded. 9Anyone who runs ahead without remaining in the teaching of Christ does not have God. Whoever remains in His teaching has both the Father and the Son.

    10If anyone comes to you but does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home or even greet him. 11Whoever greets such a person shares in his evil deeds.

    In apologetics rebellious and evil thinking from the unbelieving world is entertained far longer than it should be. Dubious and spurious friendships with dangerous fools and other people of the wrong sort can be formed and evil ideas can be transferrred. Many of the world’s evilest thinkers hoping to compete with God sit up in philosophy and prophetically. People like Nietzsche who’s narcissistic evil should never have been read and considered in this world. God is not a true free thinker because He knows human nature is not prepared and cannot handle everything.

    Since the Age of Enlightenment a new spirit one that likes to teach people even devout Christians to accept and accentuate the wrong ideas has settled over the Laodicean Church and it’s apologists who have itching ears and are far too tolerant and have even lapsed back into tolerating false traditions of men over good sound doctrine and the fearless common sense of godly men with the mind of Christ.

    Apologists are really just the other side of the coin of evangelism. Where apologists go wrong is they get so bound up with their ideas and research and studies that they fail to press the charge. Which is to throw out the bond woman.

    Apologist why do you entertain blasphemy and traitor talk from unqualified people in your own mind instead of resolutely going about to reveal these atheists and other groups with anti
    Christian spirits’ self deception.

    A person with an anti Christian spirit cannot even interpret the Gospel nor are they an equal to the tiniest babe in Christ as 1 John 2:14 let’s us know.

    Don’t allow antichristian people to engage in self deception while they mock more enlightened Christians. Why entertain their bastard thinking at all? It’s not that you started out any better than them. The point is you are actually saved and being saved is a qualitatively different state from being an unsaved person seeking to rule illegally through his corrupt carnal reason that he made an idol out of.

    Stop using the world’s weapons apologist! Start using God’s spiritual weapons and ideas like SIN to drive the point home.

    These unbelievers don’t even examine themselves or sin. They just claim it is the juvenile idea of an old backwards Bronze Age people.

    Yet they are blind because the nature of man today is no different than that of the Bronze Age people.

    Tell them. They are not the same existentially as a born again believer. We have a dual nature and experience different things from them as a result of not settling for one human birth. Seriously, how can their limited sinful human experience compete with that kind of knowledge.

    Give’em the Gospel and throw the bond woman’s child out. Don’t entertain their self delusion, lies and narcissism grandiosity while they seek a narcissistic supply by arguing with believers. They’re wrong in bondage to sin and that is that. Cut through all the baggage they have settled down under by using the Sword of the Spirit and reveal that to them; their lowly status as bond woman slaves to sin. Too blind and ignorant and rebellious to even comprehend God’s Word. How could they without the Holy Spirit granting them revelation. Did they grieve the Holy Spirit? Then point it out. Don’t indulge their ego or power fantasies about themselves. They are sinners and should have to deal with it like everyone else!

    Thanks for reading and give them the Gospel not an argument. Only the Gospel has the power to change anyone and soul winning is wise.

    Be an evangelist first. An actual (credentialed by God) disciple by delivering the Gospel and an apologist second.

    From Matthew 12, ESV

    Jesus’ Mother and Brothers
    46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, (BS)his mother and his (BT)brothers[a] stood outside, asking to speak to him.[b] 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For (BU)whoever (BV)does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

  3. I apologize for the typo above. Where I should have written: Many of the world’s evilest thinkers hoping to compete with God sit up in philosophy. The words and prophetically got tacked on some how and I don’t remember typing them.

    Perhaps there is an evil spirit on the computer promoting confusion.

    Thanks for reading and remember give them the Gospel. It is the power to save. Obedience is higher than knowledge. Hearing and obeying come before mere knowledge and reason. He whom we serve can sort truth from evil perfectly but people can’t always do that. So building obedience in people is more important than knowledge. We can never know everything no matter how hard we try.

  4. I feel vindicated. I spent 8 to 9 years trying to re-educate atheists on the scriptures explaining to them intuition is every bit as important if not more in belief formation than logic and all they did was diss it in favor of logic. Also I knew certain people favored logic over intuition without really knowing why. Then I read apologists blogs and they are all encouraging “critical thinking” without even realizing a critical spirit can be disguising itself as critical thinking. I ran into a lot of that critical spirit debating atheists. What is all that mocking they do but a critical spirit?

    Also some people who had faith based on more fundamental ideas about the Bible lose their faith when exposed to these critical historical methods of modern day hermeneutics.

    We must have the gift of faith then spend a lot of time in the scriptures by ourselves having the Holy Spirit build the mind of Christ in us. That is a truly God given spiritual mind.

    Critical thinking is over evaluating and relying on the natural man’s thinking and Christians are in the middle of transferring from natural to more spiritual thinking so don’t tell them to revert to the more backward system of critical thinking when they need to put Christ on including his fully conformed spiritual mind. I don’t care what an atheists tells you. They don’t have the spirit or the new birth or an annointing from God or any of these things that distinguish the new existential existence of a true believer from that of an unbeliever. I care what God thinks.

    The Scientific American article online that I mentioned above is called: How Critical Thinkers Lose Their Faith in God.

    I was looking at “Jesus: The Master of Critical Thinking” on the reasons for hope apologetics ministry site and they show Jesus making apologetics arguments. I read Geisler and Zukeran on this too and see their point but Jesus doesn’t really lay out arguments like a logician or philosopher does. So stop substituting the language of philosophy for God’s Word.

    As Christains we should be making it plain we are a lot more proficient in the interpretation of God’s Word than the unbelieving world is. They already fail to understand the scriptures by engaging in eisegesis. The least we can do is point out that they are scripturally and spiritually illiterate before switching into the non-biblical language of philosophy to accomodate them. That way they may grasp there is an actual existential difference between a believer and an unbeliever’s life.

    Let them feel the difference between being a child of God and a person who has rejected and refused to understand God’s Word or they may never come out of their narcissistic delusional thinking that is a result of this sin they are determined doesn’t exist and does not affect them.

    Sin affects us all and we all need to become aware of that so we seek out our Savior’s help.

    Learning to be obedient and learn God’s Word to be able to apply it is more important than satisfying your natural man’s desire to think critically. We have a whole new spiritual mind to learn to operate from effectively if we are going to learn how to promote the Gospel and come to a full meausre of a man.

    This is why Jesus said obedience takes priority over knowledge in John 7:17.

    Blessings on everyone reading.

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