My high school aged sons and I were recently offered a free review of the first lesson in a new youth apologetics video curriculum by Mikel Del Rosario, the Apologetics Guy. Knowing that Mikel is *already* accessible, we had to see what this new curriculum specifically targeted to youth is all about. The curriculum is called Jesus in Focus, and this first lesson is called Is the Virgin Birth a True Story?. Could the timing be better, with Christmas right around the corner?
While everyone else was out in the craziness on Black Friday, we saved ourselves an hour of madness and geared up for Christmas studying the virgin birth. What better way to kick off the holidays? You know it’s going to come up soon at school, in the media, and basically everywhere.
So this is feedback from Ethan (senior), and David (freshman), and me. We appreciate Mikel so much for giving us this opportunity to cover this topic the day after Thanksgiving, gearing up for Christmas!
First, a little bit about how the curriculum works. Parents or youth pastors have a leaders guide to review before corralling the kids for the lesson. The curriculum includes a power point presentation, introduction video, and lesson video. The leaders guide will help you teach everything in the right order with the videos and powerpoint, and has a good supply of discussion questions that engage students.
David liked the idea in the leaders guide of leading out with a student skit of Luke 1:28-35, and thought of this: A girl is on her computer checking out Facebook, an angel appears all casual-like, she doesn’t take Gabriel seriously at first, then posts a status update on Facebook: “Omg! Angel just told me I’m having a baby. Virgin, btw!”
Let’s get some potentially negative junk out of the way. The video portion of this youth curriculum is targeted to younger kids who would enjoy hanging out with the Mickey Mouse Club. My kids and I are too old for how upbeat it is. It’s cheesy-positive, and so not atheist-friendly. My boys interact with their atheist friends, so they would not be able to share this with them. I hear future lessons may tone that down, however. Another potential negative is that more advanced students will be bothered by so much repetition, but less-advanced students will appreciate it (Ethan was bothered, David was not). Now you know why I said “potentially” negative!
Side note into the atheist-friendly bit: Ethan suggested that parents teach this lesson after teaching the minimal facts argument, or arguments for natural theology, because leading out with the virgin birth may cause young skeptics to jump ship and close their minds to anything else you have to teach. However, “students who may have agnostic or atheist tendencies may still be interested to know Jesus’ virginal conception is unique in world religious traditions. There is virtually nothing like it. I can only think of one very obscure Buddhist text almost no one knows about that mentions what I would consider the only other claim of a virginal conception—but it is extremely unlikely to have influenced Christianity,” (Mikel via PM).
I thought it would be good to include more of the biblical narrative – including from Matthew. That way, in the closing thoughts, I could have mentioned that the virgin birth is mentioned directly or indirectly in all four gospels (I did cover this with my boys, but we didn’t go into “independent testimony” this time). Do the genealogies hint at the virgin birth? What about the undesigned coincidences that confirm the authenticity of the gospels on the virgin birth? How about the historical and other evidence? (MORE from Tim McGrew: 1, 2, 3.) However, the leaders guide does take you through how other gospels and Paul’s writing do imply the virgin birth.
One thing we like about the leaders guide is the discussion questions section at the end. However, it doesn’t cover all the questions that popped into our heads. For example: Why does the virgin birth even have to be true? That would have been good to answer, especially since the leaders guide covers the Roman Catholic distinctions. Other questions the curriculum doesn’t answer: What if it wasn’t *copied* from pagan myths, but only *inspired by* pagan myths, to appeal to the Greek churches Paul was reaching? How does the lesson demonstrate the closing thought regarding theological reflection?
Our favorite part of this curriculum is what we call the “methinks thou dost protest too much” argument, though Mikel doesn’t call it that. Nick Peters would LOVE it (inside joke). Basically, this is the argument that if the virgin birth was made up and they were trying to make people believe it, they would’ve gone on and on affirming it – but they didn’t. It was “in there” – but it wasn’t emphasized, much less over-emphasized.
This youth apologetics curriculum from an already accessible apologist is excellent for “beginning beginners.” My sons did benefit from it, so we really appreciate Mikel sharing it with us, and with such good timing! Ethan and David want to thank Mikel for digging in to answering those who say things like “the virgin birth was copied from pagan myths” – they are glad there are people like Mikel who help remove obstacles to faith, particularly for their generation.