About J Warner Wallace

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective and a Christian case maker at Stand to Reason. He is the author of Cold Case Christianity.

Four Reasons You Should Attend the 2014 CrossExamined Instructor Academy

6 Leadership Principles I Learned From My Trailblazing FatherThis past weekend I got to hang out with Frank Turek, a dear friend, co-laborer and mentor. Frank is the author of I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, and he was here in our neck of the woods teaching several services at a large local church. Susie and I joined him afterward and we spent the better part of two days together. We ate some barbeque, ran through the local woods (we found out Frank runs faster than we do), and talked about our work and passion to train Christians to think critically about what they believe. Frank does more than train Christians, however. Frank trains trainers.

Frank’s been a teacher and cultural influencer for years, but if you want to impact your culture exponentially, you’ve got to multiply your own efforts by creating additional trainers. That’s exactly what Frank does every year at the CrossExamined Instructor Academy (CIA). Frank has assembled a team of speakers and thinkers to help him train up the next generation of Christian Case Makers. This three day experience isn’t for beginners. It’s for people who have already started to step out and teach apologetics in their local churches and communities.  CIA will teach you how to present I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, including four categories critical to Christian Case Making: Truth, God, Miracles and the New Testament. You’ll also learn how to answer questions about those topics in a hostile environment. During these three days, in addition to hearing lectures and participating in discussions, participants will be asked to present a portion of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist and answer questions from the instructors. Like last year, I am part of the CIA faculty, along with Frank, Greg Koukl, Dr. Richard Howe, Brett Kunkle and Ted Wright.

If you’re a tent-making Case Maker, I think you should come and be a part of this incredible opportunity for the following reasons:

It’s a Great Place to Grow Your Knowledge Base There’s an extensive reading list required for everyone who attends the program, so you’re going to have to prepare yourself with additional knowledge before you even arrive on the campus of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES). But trust me; you’re going to learn a lot from the instructors and other participants. The people who come to this academy are gifted and knowledgeable. We all get to learn from one another and everyone comes away with something they didn’t know prior to the training.

It’s a Great Place to Refine Your Approach One of the best things about CIA is the emphasis on presentation. It’s one thing to know something, another to communicate what you know effectively (especially if you want to be winsome or influential). This year we are increasing our focus in this area. We want to make you better Case Makers and communicators. We’ve got special break-out sessions planned for you to accomplish this goal.

It’s a Great Place to Learn the Art of Influence If you want to influence a culture effectively, it all begins with your “platform”. I will be talking a lot about that this year; Frank scheduled me to teach one of the new breakout sessions where we’ll examine a number of successful strategies guaranteed to increase your audience and influence. If you’re a tent-making Case Maker like me, this will be the perfect opportunity to learn from one another.

It’s a Great Place to Connect with Other Case Makers Perhaps my favorite part of this training is the opportunity to meet all of you and “hang out in the halls” together. If you’re staying at the local hotel, we’ll be eating breakfast every day (as well as other meals on the SES campus). We’ll definitely learn from each other, but more importantly, we’ll get to know each other as brothers and sisters (and likely begin a relationship that will extend over the years).

If you want to become a more effective Christian Case Maker, I can’t think of a better, more concise, more focused opportunity. Join us at the CrossExamined Instructor Academy from August 14th to 16th as we encourage, critique, train and inspire each other to make the case for Christianity.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and ALIVE

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How Can You Trust Christianity Is True When There Are So Many Unanswered Questions?

How Can You Trust Christianity Is True When There Are So Many Unanswered QuestionsAs a Christian, I have many unanswered questions. The more I study the Christian worldview, the larger my list seems to grow. While essential truths are easier to identify from scripture, there are many non-essential (and more ambiguous) features of Christianity. The unfathomable aspects of God’s nature typically leave us in awe and without adequate explanation. To make matters worse, the ancient claims and historical details described in the New Testament are sometimes too remote to accurately verify. As a result, I’m often left with questions in places where I would rather have clarity and evidential certainty. How can we trust Christianity is true when there are so many unanswered questions?

After a long career as a cold-case detective, I’ve learned to get comfortable with unanswered questions. In fact, I’ve never investigated or presented a case to a jury that wasn’t plagued with a number of mysteries. As much as I wish it wasn’t so, there is no such thing as a perfect case; every case has unanswered questions. In fact, when we seat a jury for a criminal trial, we often ask the prospective jurors if they are going to be comfortable making a decision without complete information. If potential jurors can’t envision themselves making a decision unless they can remove every possible doubt (and answer every possible question), we’ll do our best to make sure they don’t serve on our panel. Every case is imperfect; there are no cases devoid of unanswered questions. Every juror is asked to make a decision, even though the evidential case will be less than complete. As detectives and prosecutors, we do our best to be thorough and present enough evidence so jurors can arrive at the most reasonable inference. But, if you need “beyond a possible doubt,” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” you’re not ready to sit on a jury. The standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt” for a good reason; no case is evidentially complete; no case maker can eliminate every possible reservation. [Read more...]

Is There a Way to Avoid a Universe with a Beginning?

Is There a Way to Avoid a Universe With a BeginningAfter examining the evidence, cosmologists and physicists have largely embraced the fact we live in a universe that began to exist at a point in the distant past. At this point of “cosmic singularity” all space, time and matter came into existence abruptly, beginning in an extremely hot and dense state and expanding rapidly. Everything came from nothing. This view of the universe’s origin is called the Standard Cosmological model, and it best explains the evidence we presently observe. Astrophysicist Andrew Liddle and astronomer Jon Loveday affirm this: “The standard cosmological model is a striking success, as a phenomenological description of the cosmological data… The model’s success in explaining high precision observations has led a clear majority of the cosmological community to accept it as a good account of how the universe works” (Oxford Companion to Cosmology, page 8).

If the universe began to exist, however, it’s reasonable to look for a cause sufficient to begin its existence. This cause, by definition, would have to be something non-spatial, a-temporal and immaterial (something other than the universe itself). In addition, the foundational cause of the universe must be uncaused, or it simply isn’t foundational. All of us, regardless of worldview, are looking for the first, uncaused, sufficiently powerful, non-spatial, a-temporal, immaterial cause of the universe. From this description you can see how dangerously close this cause sounds to a theistic description of God. Perhaps this is why many researchers and cosmologists seek to find a cosmological model avoiding a cosmological singularity (a model denying the beginning of space, time and matter). A number of models have been offered, but none have the explanatory ability to supplant the Standard Cosmological Model:

The Steady State Model
This theory was developed in 1949 by Sir Fred Hoyle, Thomas Gold and others, although a number of variations of this idea have been proposed over the years. Steady State (also known as “eternal inflation”) theories acknowledge the expansion of the universe, but explain this as the result of new matter being formed over time. As galaxies move away from one another, new matter appears in the voids created by the expansion. The universe is continually expanding not from a point of beginning but as a continuous process of stretching and “infilling”. The theory removed the need for the universe to have a beginning, but it had several flaws causing scientists to abandon it. The theory violates the laws regulating the conservation of mass, has never been confirmed by a single observation. Most scientists abandoned the theory in the late 1960’s when observations affirmed the universe was in fact changing over time: quasars and radio galaxies were observed at large distances (meaning they existed in the past), but not in closer, newer galaxies. In addition to this, the theory fails to explain cosmic background radiation (the Steady State Theory tried to explain this radiation as the result of light from ancient stars scattered by galactic dust, but this is inconsistent with the “smooth” nature of the radiation). Worse yet, there has never been any experimental or evidential verification of the idea, and no one’s been able to offer a reasonable mechanism explaining the appearance of new galaxies. [Read more...]

The Difference Between Believing the Gospels and Trusting the Gospel

The Difference Between Believing the Gospels and Trusting the GospelI leaned over and said, “I think it may be true.” “What may be true?” asked Susie. “Christianity,” I responded. “The more I look at the Gospels, the more I think they look like real eyewitness accounts.” I spent months examining the claims of the Gospels, evaluating them with the template I typically apply to eyewitnesses in my criminal investigations. At the end of my examination, I was confident in their reliability. I believed the Gospels were telling me the truth about Jesus. But I wasn’t yet a Christian. I had what I often refer to as “belief that”. I examined what the Gospels had to say about Jesus, and after testing them rigorously, I came away with confidence in their accuracy, early dating, reliable transmission and lack of bias. But I still had a profoundly important question: “What is the cross all about? Why did Jesus have to die that way?” My wife, Susie, had been raised as a cultural Catholic, and although she was familiar with the language and doctrines of Catholicism, her answer was simply, “I don’t really know.” After months of investigation, I believed what the Gospels told me about Jesus, but I wasn’t yet ready to accept the Gospel of Salvation.

Yesterday, CBN posted the story of my journey from “belief that” to “belief in”. It’s really the first time I’ve told the story this completely, and I hope it will help you see the role evidence can play in moving someone from intellectual assent to volitional submission:

J Warner Wallace Testimony

For me, the transition from “belief that” to “belief in” can be summarized simply. My investigation of Jesus brought me to a place of certainty and confidence. What I read about Jesus in the Gospels led me to “belief that”. But what I read about me in the Gospels led me to “belief in”. For months I had been focused on testing the reliability of the Gospels without really embracing the teachings of Jesus related to my own condition as a human. I can still remember where I was when I first read through the accounts from a new perspective, searching this time for what they said about my own human nature. It was convicting.

I was never someone who saw myself as a bad person. In fact, my role as a police officer only amplified my own pride and sense of “goodness”. I took bad guys to jail. I thought I understood the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. I was on one side of the bars; bad people were on the other. But the New Testament eroded my confidence in my own righteousness. As I saw myself on the pages of Scripture, I had to admit their accuracy. They described me perfectly. The more I read, the more I recognized my need for a Savior. Suddenly the Gospel made sense.

Every worldview asks and answers three questions: How did we get here, why is it so messed up, and how do we fix it? As I came to understand the answer to the second question, I was ready to embrace the answer to the third. Our problem is rebellion, the same kind of rebellion I had been demonstrating so vividly for thirty-five years as a non-believer. How can we fix it? The Gospel. When I first stepped into an evangelical church and heard the pastor describe Jesus, I wasn’t ready to accept the message of Salvation. I had to begin by examining the Gospel eyewitness accounts:

J Warner Wallace Investigation

This investigation of the Gospels led me to a place of readiness. I was prepared, as a result of my investigation, to hear what Jesus had to say about me. Make no mistake about it, my old “belief that” was not a saving faith. But my present “belief in” would not have been nearly as robust and animated if not for the evidential confidence I gained from my initial investigation. “Belief in,” when informed by the evidence required for “belief that,” is far more likely to engage the world in a vigorous, confident manner. This is an often overlooked aspect of evidential Christian Case Making (apologetics). But, informed trust looks and feels different than blind faith. I can see the difference when I travel across the country. When our questions are answered and the evidences are clear, we begin to live differently. When we are confident the Gospels are an evidentially accurate description of human history, we are far more likely to share our trust in the Gospel of Salvation.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and ALIVE

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Why Are Young Christians Leaving the Church? It’s Simple Math

It’s Simple MathLast weekend I had the opportunity to speak to an engaging group of Christians in Elgin, Iowa at the First Baptist Church of Elgin. The congregation was a wonderful combination of young families and older members who understand the challenges facing the younger Christians in their midst. I shared the overwhelming statistics chronicling the growing number of young Christians leaving the church during their college years, but many in the audience had already seen the departure firsthand. The dilemma was personal, and they were ready (and eager) to examine the causes (and the possible solutions). Before I shared my T.R.A.I.N. paradigm, I took a minute to describe the causal factors leading to the departure of so many young Christians. This isn’t rocket science; three simple truths combine to create the situation we see today:

Our Christian Teenagers are Inarticulate and Uninformed
Unfortunately, most of the young Christians who graduate from our youth programs and enter college are surprisingly inarticulate about their Christian beliefs. Sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Denton did an excellent job of reporting the problem in Soul Searching: The Religious Lives of American Teenagers. They discovered Christian teens have the ability to be articulate about a number of issues, but are seldom articulate when it comes to their Christian beliefs. Most could not describe simple principles and claims of Christianity, and even those who could, struggled to provide simple responses to typical skeptical objections they will surely encounter in college. Our students have not been trained with the university battlefield in view. [Read more...]