Forensic Faith 101: Distinctive Duty

This month I am teaching from J. Warner Wallace’s book Forensic Faith. This is what Dr. Craig Hazen, founder and director of the Graduate Program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University, has said:

“This book connects. It is one the of most accessible books addressing the foundational issues in [Christian] apologetics I have ever seen. Superb material that every Christian student and leader needs to master, presented in a way that is enormously thoughtful and engaging. My hope is that churches around the globe read it, study it, and apply it. It will turn the Church, and then the world, upside down.”

We need to compare our Christian walk with that of a person who commits to solemnly serving our community or nation in a “protective” capacity. We don’t just cross the line into faith and then go along our merry way having nothing change in our lives. Salvation is assured, but in that we have now become part of a new family or community, one in which we should love, serve, and yes, protect. We now have a “distinctive duty” as Wallace points out.

Listen to Wallace explain the importance of training young people to have a forensic faith:


When a person becomes a Christian we are not just changing a preference, like our favorite color has changed, but we are making a commitment to Jesus who sacrificed His life for us. Jesus gives us two important commands as His disciples:

1. The Great Commandment

The Pharisees, who were questioning Jesus in an attempt to trip Him up, asked this:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 22:36-40

According to Wallace, “the Greek word for mind is dianoia, a word used to describe not only our minds but our understanding, our intelligence or the place where thinking occurs. Jesus intentionally used a word exchange from that of ‘strength/might’ found in Deuteronomy 6:4. He raises the bar for us as Christians not only to love God first above all else, but also that we are to use our minds and intelligence to understand the truth of Christianity. This effort is an act of worship.”

A lot of people join the ‘Christian family’ and then go on their way as if nothing else has changed. They may attend Church on the weekend and maybe go to a small group study, but their “minds” are not searching for truth to share with a culture that is growing more and more hostile to Christianity. As we looked at last week, statistics are showing the loss of our young people to secular lifestyles and we are not responding with truth to the questions and doubts that are chasing them away.

2. The Great Commission

At one of His last meetings with the disciples after Jesus’ resurrection we find a final commissioning that is meant not only for them but for us until the end of this present age:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

We are to not only love God with all our hearts, souls and minds, but we are to go out and share what we have learned with others! In doing this it is important to understand that we must be all in. In other words, our lives need to reflect what we are sharing and we can only do that if we truly believe that what we believe is really real! Wallace sites one of the greatest apologist ever, C.S. Lewis when he said “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

C.S. Lewis was a professing atheist and once he decided Christianity was true he was “all in.” All of his writings and books reflected his passionate Christian worldview. Wallace asks: “Is your Christian worldview reflected in everything you do?” He challenges us to make a list of all the things we do in a week and ask these question of our list:

  • Is there anything that needs to change in order for me to embrace my duty as a Christian Case maker?
  • Is there anything in that list that does not support my passion as a Christian?

What is “Forensic Faith?” According to Wallace, “the adjective forensic comes from the Latin word forensis, which means ‘in open court’ or ‘public’. The term usually refers to the process detectives and prosecutors use to investigate and establish evidence in a pubic trial or debate.” Wallace gives us five important examples of Christian history filled with people who embrace a forensic faith and who modeled what it means to be a Christian case maker:

1. Jesus, the Case Maker

Jesus supported His testimony, ministry and character with evidence, usually in the form of miracles. There are so many examples throughout the New Testament, here are two:

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.  John 10:25

…until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after he had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.  Acts 1:2-3

2. The Disciples, commissioned Case Makers

Jesus sent out the disciples to witness to the truth of the Gospel. There are many examples of their testimony throughout the New Testament, here are two:

For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.  Acts 4:20

And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”   Acts 17:2-3

3. The Canonical Case Makers

The writers of the New Testament knew the importance of their eyewitness authority. There are many example of this throughout, here are three:

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the suffering of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed.  1 Peter 5:1

For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  2 Peter 2:1:16-17

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life, and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us, what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us.  1 John 1:1-3

4. The Continuing Case Makers

After the deaths of all the first century eyewitnesses the case making torch was passed on to the next generation of disciples, many who went to their deaths as martyrs for the truth of the faith. There are many examples in Christian history of these disciples and you can look up their work still today. Here is a timeline example:

  • Quadratus of Athens (c. AD 60-129)
  • Aristides of Athens (c. AD 70-134)
  • Ariston of Pella (c. AD 100-160)
  • Justin Martyr (c. AD 100-165)
  • Apollinaris Claudius (c. AD 100-175)
  • Tertullian (c. 155-240)
  • Marcus Minucius Felix (c. AD 180-250)

5. The Contemporary Case Makers

This is us! As Wallace says, “we have a duty to know what we believe and why we believe it so we can give an answer, content for the faith, and model Christian case making for the next generation of believers. Are you ready?”

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscious, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  1 Peter 3:15-16

In his show, Cold-Case Christianity, Wallace spends some time talking about young Christians. Watch this 28 minute presentation that will help you understand the importance of worldview training as early as possible:

Why are you a Christian? I hope part of your answer will include, “Because it is evidentially true!” Stay with us over the next few posts as we continue to examine how to have a “Forensic Faith!”

***SPECIAL PRAYER: PLEASE CONTINUE TO KEEP IN PRAYER OUR BROTHER IN CHRIST, NABEEL QURESHI AND HIS FAMILY. PRAY FOR GOD’S HEALING MIRACLE TO HAPPEN AND FOR HIS PEACE THAT PASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING. IN JESUS’ NAME AND GOD’S WILL WE PRAY ALWAYS.

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You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in!  Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.

Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.

Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.

Teri Dugan

TeriDugan@truthfaithandreason.com

 

 

 

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