I am going to start this post today with a prayer request:
Please join me in praying for our brother Nabeel Qureshi. Those of you who know who he is please up your prayers for his pain to be relieved, for him and and family to know the peace of God that passes all understanding, and for healing in God’s will. We pray always in Jesus’ Name. Amen
If you don’t know Nabeel and his work in Christian Apologetics, please goggle him or go to YouTube and watch his testimony. He is a warrior for God and has a story to share and truth to teach that will outlast his life and ours. I pray that God allows him to stay here as long as possible because of all he has to offer both Christians and Muslims, but if God chooses to take him home then I pray for his work to continue in the hearts and minds of those who will listen.
This week’s topic is from J. Warner Wallace’s new book, Forensic Faith. I am teaching from this book this month and encourage everyone to pick up a copy for themselves.
“Now the true soldiers of Christ must always be prepared to do battle for the truth, and must never, so far as lies with them, allow false convictions to creep in.” Origen
With Wallace’s background in law enforcement transferring the idea of targeted training from his profession to Christianity is a perfect analogy to the way a Christian should view their faith. It is not a new idea however, since Origen coined the phrase above in the early third century. Christians have been defending the faith, being persecuted and martyred, since the time of Jesus. Unfortunately in our post-Christian culture today many Christians do not understand the importance of training and are not ready to do battle in the public square of ideas, a battle that we are losing.
The analogy of targeted training for Christians goes even deeper as Wallace talks about deployment: “Training is essential in law enforcement because officers deploy on a regular basis. If we could handle every call over the phone without ever leaving the station, none of us would need to exercise or train tactically. You don’t have to train if you have no intention of deploying. The same is true for us as Christians. …We need to rethink our role so we can rethink our response.”
As Christians we are trained to serve people’s needs, usually in the physical sense (hospital visits, missions, helping the homeless etc.), but what about the spiritual needs? If we serve in all these areas and yet are unable to grow people spiritually how are we fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)? In today’s culture the idea of spirituality has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus, yet many Christians are ready to mix in cultural spirituality with Christianity and many do not even know the difference!
As a high school teacher I have learned over the years that kids learn best when they practice a skill, and many studies support this. The “lecture-take notes” form of teaching has its place but if the students never practice what they learn then all is soon forgotten. Imagine if your surgeon had only “taken notes” in school and never practiced, would you trust their ability to treat you?
In this same sense Wallace tells us to “stop teaching and start training.” In his book Forensic Faith, Wallace gives us five important points to remember so that we train not only our next generation, but ourselves. He uses the acronym TRAIN:
T = TEST
R = REQUIRE
A = ARM
I = INVOLVE
N = NUTURE
Test yourself and others on the ability to answer some of the major questions that the culture asks of Christianity today. You can do this with the “Readiness Review” available on Wallace’s Forensic Faith Website, or you can watch debates between Christians and others on YouTube and begin to understand good responses to tough questions asked of Christians. Once you have assessed your abilities you can pinpoint areas that you need to train in.
Important: Do not get discouraged by the attacks of atheists and others because I was once there and after some purposefully investigative time I can honestly say that every answer to every question ask by a non-believer is out there, it just takes some time (and prayer) on our part to check it out. I did, and I now have the confidence to stand up to those attacks.
REQUIRE (RAISE THE BAR):
If you have ever invested time into training (a job, a sport, a musical instrument etc.) you know that practice makes perfect. You cannot sit down at the piano and wonder why you can’t just play a piece from Mozart if you have never taken lessons or practiced. It is the same with our faith; we can’t expect to answer tough questions from the culture if we have never practiced answering them. This is where we must set aside time to do Bible study and practice answering questions about the faith: What is your plan? If you don’t have one sit down and schedule time right now!
ARM (YOURSELF FOR BATTLE):
Just as good police officers will have the proper tools when they answer a call (handcuffs, flashlight, gun, mace etc.) so too must Christians be equipped. Our tools should include things like: The Bible (and knowledge of how to use it), expert go to resources (Christian apologetics apps and a library with books like Forensic Faith), a community of believers and fellow trainees (small groups or classes), expert trainers (like J. Warner Wallace!), and most of all a prayer community because as you train you will be attacked (Ephesian 6:10-18)!
INVOLVE (YOURSELF AND HIT THE STREETS):
This is probably the most difficult area for a lot of people because it means you have to engage someone. There are various forms of “hitting the streets.” It may be a single person you have been praying for and now you are equipped to jump in and start a conversation. On a more formal level Wallace has built this into a purposeful event that young Christians and others in training can participate. For example, he has taken students to places like Salt Lake City, Utah or U.C. Berkley with a planned event opportunity to interact with Mormons and atheist groups. These are life changing opportunities, especially for young Christians.
However, it does not have to be that elaborate if resources are limited. Wallace also suggests an afternoon excursion to a shopping center or other public place doing surveys to start a spiritual conversation; or, starting a Christian evidence class at your local church; or, establish a recurring “Family Evidence Evening” at your home; or, start on online Christian evidence discussion using social media or build your own platform blog using simple blogging software; or, start a lunchtime conversation group at your school or workplace.
Note: This is the area that often turns people off (on both sides) because it can be done inappropriately, arrogantly and/or not in love. Therefore, it is important to understand our role as “Ambassadors for the LORD” (2 Corinthians 5:20) and our responsibility to give an answer for the hope that we have in Jesus, BUT WITH GENTLENESS AND RESPECT. (1 Peter 3:15-16).
NUTURE (OTHERS BY DEMONSTRATING THE NATURE OF JESUS)
Once we have trained ourselves it is so important to help train others. This is often the area most neglected by Christians because they don’t feel called to be teachers. However, if we don’t teach others someone else in the culture will. There are tons of false claims and teachings out there about Christianity and Jesus Himself. If we don’t correct those misconceptions for others, and especially the next generation, then someone else (of another belief and agenda) will.
If we think about it seriously we are all teachers anyway and this is because we model what we really believe in our daily habits. One of the biggest complaints against Christianity, as Wallace points out, is hypocrisy in the church. Wallace highlights Author Brennan Manning, who once put it this way: “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” We need to do better because we owe it to our LORD and savior and we owe it to the next generation.
A Final note on training: A lot of people think that a Christian can make Bible reading and study a one time thing, like checking it off the “to do” list. NO, it is a lifetime commitment! It is this way with anything you want to be good at and the formula for success, as Wallace, and any good teacher, knows is:
THE MORE OFTEN YOU REPEAT AN ACTION = THE MORE LIKELY YOU’LL BE ACCURATE UNDER PRESSURE!
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 1 Timothy 3:16-17
Join us next week as we continue to make a case for having a forensic faith!
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.