By J. Parnell McCarter


For too long high school speech and debate has been formed and structured by humanists.  For instance, in high school debate organized by the National Forensic League (NFL), the Bible is not treated as the foundation of all knowledge.  Debate occurs on a totally humanistic basis and on totally humanistic terms.  Furthermore, participants are expected to espouse positions which they do not in good conscience agree with.   The latter tends to undermine the Ninth Commandment principle that we are to speak the truth at all times.  So high school speech and debate needs to be reformed to be more consistent with scriptural principles. 


Many Christians, especially in the home schooling community, have recognized the need to Christianize high school speech and debate.  One of the primary efforts along these lines has been the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA).  Here is the purpose of the NCFCA, according to its website at http://www.ncfca.org/ :  “The National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA) believes that formal speech and debate can provide a means for home schooled students to learn and exercise analytical and oratorical skills, addressing life issues from a Biblical world view in a manner that glorifies God. To provide these opportunities to home schooled students, NCFCA shall facilitate qualifying tournaments throughout the country and the annual national tournament.”  While this is a laudable goal, we fear that the results have fallen significantly short of the objective, primarily due to the fact that the Christians who have led the NCFCA are not reformed and Calvinistic, but instead generally of the Baptist persuasion.  The scope of scriptural relevance is far too restricted in such circles.  Though professedly Christian, one rarely if ever hears reference to scripture in NCFCA debate competitions.  Scripture is simply not being treated as the foundation of all knowledge, and it is not regarded as necessary for political discourse.  Furthermore, as in NFL competition, participants are often expected to espouse positions which they do not in good conscience agree with. 

Reformed speech and debate instead treats scripture as the starting point in consideration of all topics, be they topics concerning politics, ethics, theology, law, etc.  This is a driving principle of the West Michigan Speech and Debate Club described at http://www.puritans.net/speech and debate/ .  A Manual for Organizing a Speech and Debate Club , free on-line at http://www.puritans.net/curriculum , tells how this club is organized and how others may form similar clubs.  It is our hope that this club and this manual will help in the effort of reforming high school speech and debate, that it might be more in conformity with scriptural principles, and glorify Jesus Christ as its highest end.  Participation in such a speech and debate club can foster many qualities in our youth which are laudable: conversance with God’s word and its implications, facility of speech (especially concerning defense of the Christian faith), maturity of thought, etc.   We look forward to the day when there are many such speech and debate clubs, and that each club could send a representative to compete in regional and national speech and debate tournaments, organized according to scriptural principles.