Forensic FaithBy J.Warner Wallace
J.Warner Wallace is a retired cold case homicide detective who has applied his unique experience to Christianity in his books Cold Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene. In Forensic Faith, Wallace makes the case for case-making. We are not all called to be detectives, but Wallace notes we are called to be case-makers, and offers his insights as to how we can effectively make the case for Christianity.
While apologetics has been making a comeback in recent years, there is still a lot of resistance to the idea within the church. As noted here, there are still leaders in the church who think faith that is not grounded in reasons and evidence is somehow more “pure.” Wallace’s book is part of a growing effort to correct this misconception.
The book is only 224 pages, but there is a lot of insight and information in a small package. In his preface, Wallace distinguishes between belief that happens to be right and knowledge grounded in reasons. He notes that many, if not most Christians hold a true belief, but are not prepared to defend that belief. In chapter 1, Wallace lays out an argument for why Christians ought to be able to defend the faith, giving five examples. In chapter 2, training is emphasized over teaching, noting that training is what prepares you for action. Five steps for training are laid out. In chapter 3, Wallace explains the necessity for research and continuing preparation and offers five things we can do to apply this. Chapter 4 then offers five ways you can make you case like a good prosecutor. These chapters are followed by notes for further study and links to more resources.
Forensic Faith is yet another example of Wallace’s gift for communication. He supplements the text with useful illustrations (which he draws himself) and examples from his extensive experience as a detective. What I found especially helpful was his response to those who claim “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. For one, he notes how extraordinary the claim is when he accuses someone of murder, and how they are convicted by ordinary evidence. Moreover, the alternative claims skeptics offer are no less “extraordinary” yet they do not offer extraordinary evidence for them.
One issue I would approach a little differently than Wallace is in his description of the answers he gets when he asks Christians why they believe what they do. I agree with him that they are unable to defend what they believe. However, I would not characterize this as belief without evidence or reasons. As Wallace himself points out, almost anything counts as evidence. When someone comes to faith, typically it is (on a human level) after they have heard the Gospel from someone they trust. If their parents, or their pastor tell them Christianity is true, and they have reasons to trust their parents and/or their pastor, then this trustworthiness counts and evidence. I realize that if this is all they have, it is of very limited value when it comes to defending their beliefs, but it is still evidence. As such, I would offer this to those skeptics who claim such people have no evidence. I would also offer it to those who think they need no evidence.
The structure of the book, each with an alliterated title (and the Baptists rejoiced) and five points of application (and all the apologists rejoiced) is easy to follow. This book is accessible for readers from middle school through graduate school. It is a must-read for all Christians. Did I mention it’s a good book?