J. Warner Wallace

How Passion Primes the Case for Christianity

Written by J. Warner Wallace |
Thursday, May 16, 2024
The best jurors are passionate, open-minded, and humble, and it’s important to understand these characteristics if we hope to have an impact as Christian Case Makers. If you’ve spent time thinking through the evidence and you think you are prepared to make a case for what you believe as a Christian, take an equally conscientious approach to the selection of your potential jury. Remember, most cases are decided at jury selection.

As a cold-case detective and part of a three generation law enforcement family, I’ve got a secret I’d like to share with you: the majority of criminal (and civil) cases are won or lost well before the opening statements or closing arguments. Most cases are decided at jury selection. You can have a great case but lose miserably if you don’t have the right jury. That’s why prosecutors and defense attorneys specialize (or hire specialists) in jury selection. Both sides are looking for jurors who aren’t biased against some important aspect of their case; better yet, each side wants a jury inclined to agree with their position, even before they start the trial. A lot of effort is expended trying to figure out which twelve people (from the larger jury pool) should be selected. Case makers use surveys and questionnaires to ask important questions of each juror as they try their best to sort through the candidates. No one wants to present a criminal case to a group that hasn’t been carefully screened, questioned and examined. If case makers fail to assemble the right jury, their efforts to articulate and argue the case will be meaningless.
As the case agent and investigating detective in many high profile criminal trials, I’ve learned to look for three things in every juror, and these are the same attributes I seek in those with whom I share the case for Christianity: I’m looking for people who are passionate about the issues, open to hearing the case and humble enough not to let their ego get in the way. Today I’d like to talk about the first important attribute: passion.
Passionate Jurors
Some potential jurors arrive for jury duty with great reluctance. They view jury duty as an inconvenience and a burden. They appear disinterested and disgruntled. As the investigating detective, I’ve typically spent several years preparing the case for trial; the last thing I want at this critical juncture is a disinterested jury. Instead, I’m hoping for twelve men and women who see their jury service as a privilege and noble duty.
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Why Environmentalism and Animal Rights are Dependent on a Christian Worldview

Written by J. Warner Wallace |
Friday, April 12, 2024
My Christian worldview, however, compels me to see the environment unselfishly. The respect I have for my environment is more than simple utilitarianism. The “natural” world around me is a reflection of the “supernatural” God who created all species with the same love, attention to detail, and creative concern. As I learn to submit to my Maker, I come to appreciate everything He’s made. My concern for the environment is not rooted in my evolutionary status (allowing me to take advantage of the environment if it suits me). 

A friend of mine recently wrote a post on Facebook and encountered the wrath of several of his social media friends. He innocently asked if anyone wanted a kitten. His young feline pet escaped and became pregnant before she could be spayed. The online assault began almost immediately as friends and acquaintances berated him over his negligence in failing to spay his pet. For many who deny the existence of the Christian God, environmentalism and the cause of animal rights have become a religion of sorts. The movement has its own doctrinal beliefs, its own set of commandments and its own set of prescribed consequences. At times, the doctrinal beliefs seem self-contradictory. I have many friends who fight vehemently for the rights of animals while supporting the abortion of humans. Maybe contradictions of this sort are the result of improper “grounding”.
Environmentalism from a Christian Perspective
As a Christian, I definitely understand my responsibility to protect and steward the natural environment. This responsibility is “grounded” in God’s purpose for me as a human created in His image. Adam and Eve were given “dominion” over all creation (Genesis 1:26-28) but they clearly understood this as a responsibility to “work” and “keep” the Garden (Genesis 2:15). Dominion is not reckless power; it is careful responsibility and stewardship. By the time the nation of Israel was established, God provided a number of laws to make sure His children understood the importance of His creation and they learned to respect and care for other animals (see Leviticus 25:1-12, Deuteronomy 25:4 and Deuteronomy 22:6). My concern for the environment is an act of obedience and respect for God’s creation.
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The Useful Delusion of Christian Belief

Written by J. Warner Wallace |
Tuesday, March 12, 2024
Steinrucken rejects the claims of “religionists”, even as he enjoys the world they have created. “The fact is, we secularists gain much from living in a world in which excesses are held in check by religion. Religion gives society a secure and orderly environment within which we secularists can safely play out our creativities. Free and creative secularism seems to me to function best when within the stable milieu provided by Christianity.” My dad would certainly agree. But for my dad to live in a world that benefits from the “useful delusion” of religion, he has to live a life of contradiction and denial; a life that is itself an illusion and a lie. 

My father taught me how to attend church as a non-believer. He did it for many years in many different contexts with both his kids and grand kids. He was willing to attend Catholic Mass as a non-believer in the early 1960’s, and he did it again with his second family at the LDS church near his home. He attended Methodist services with my grandparents and Baptist services with my sister-in-law. He also attended the church I pastor several times. He even served once with us on a service project. He sang the songs  and sat quietly during the prayers. If you didn’t know better, you would swear he was a believer. But as a happy atheist, he rejected Christianity (and Mormonism) while he simultaneously embraced these two religions. He rejected their claims related to the existence of God while embracing them as useful delusions. He liked the impact these religions had on his children, and for that he continues to be grateful.
Several years ago, John Steinrucken wrote an article at The American Thinker entitled “Secularism’s Ongoing Debt to Christianity“. Many Christians have commented on this article because Steinrucken, as a committed atheist, acknowledged the debt that secularists have to the Judeo-Christian culture in America.
“Rational thought may provide better answers to many of life’s riddles than does faith alone. However, it is rational to conclude that religious faith has made possible the advancement of Western civilization. That is, the glue that has held Western civilization together over the centuries is the Judeo-Christian tradition. To the extent that the West loses its religious faith in favor of non-judgmental secularism, then to the same extent, it loses that which holds all else together.
Succinctly put: Western civilization’s survival, including the survival of open secular thought, depends on the continuance within our society of the Judeo-Christian tradition.”
Steinrucken acknowledged what my father has always believed. As an atheist, my father embraces my Christian values wholeheartedly, even while he rejects the God from whom these values come.
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Four Reasons the New Testament Gospels Are Reliable

Written by J. Warner Wallace |
Monday, March 4, 2024
The “chain of custody” will help me determine if the evidence was altered over time. In a similar way, there is a New Testament “chain of custody” related to the transmission of the Gospels and letters of Paul. The Gospel of John, for example, can be traced from John to his three personal students (Ignatius, Polycarp and Papias) to their personal student (Irenaeus) to his personal student (Hippolytus). These men in the chain of custody wrote their own letters and documents describing what they had been taught by their predecessors. These letters survive to this day and allow us to evaluate whether or not the New Testament narratives have been changed over the years. The evidence is clear, the foundational claims related to Jesus have not changed at all from the first record to the last.

When I first examined the New Testament Gospels as an atheist, I was completely uninterested in their claims related to the Deity of Jesus. As a philosophical naturalist, I rejected the supernatural claims of these narratives. I was merely interested in mining the wisdom of Jesus as an ancient sage, in much the same way someone might read the words of Aristotle, Buddha or Bahá’u’lláh. But as I read the accounts as a detective, I became intrigued with features reminiscent of eyewitness accounts I’d investigated. Could these ancient narratives be true eyewitness statements, and if so, could I evaluate them as I had evaluated hundreds of witness statements in the past? This became an obsession and it eventually led to my becoming a Christian and writing the book, Cold-Case Christianity.
There are four criteria by which I typically assess eyewitness reliability. The Gospels “pass the test” in these important areas. For this reason, I believe there are four good reasons to accept them as reliable accounts:
They Were Written Early
A significant case can be built to establish the early dating of the Gospels. It starts by establishing the authorship date for the Book of Acts. There are several missing historical events in Acts, including the destruction of the Temple (c. 70AD), the siege of Jerusalem (c. 68-70AD) and the deaths of Paul (64-67AD), Peter (64-67AD) and James (61AD). The absence of these events is reasonable if the Book of Acts was written no later than 60AD. Luke wrote two New Testament books; he wrote his Gospel prior to the Book of Acts. The only question is, how much earlier did he write the Gospel? I think there is good evidence support a dating in the early 50’s based on internal evidence in Paul’s letters. Paul appears to have quoted Luke’s Gospel twice; in 1 Timothy 5:18 (written in 63-64AD) he quoted Luke 10:6-7, and in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (written between 53-57AD) he quoted Luke 22:19-20. This means Paul would’ve had access to Luke’s Gospel as early as 53AD. Luke (in the first chapter of the Gospel), told Theophilus: “Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you…” This term, “orderly” seems to be extraneous, unless Luke was responding to common first century knowledge about a “disorderly” Gospel. Papias, a first century bishop, famously claimed Mark’s Gospel (written based on the preaching of Peter in Rome) was accurate, if not orderly. Luke appears to have referenced this common knowledge in the opening lines of his Gospel, and Luke quoted Mark’s Gospel more than any other source. But this means the information in Mark’s Gospel is even earlier than Luke’s, placing Mark in the late 40’s or early 50’s. These early dates for both Luke and Mark make it highly unlikely they could have been written without vetting from those who were there and saw the truth about Jesus.
They Are Corroborated
My investigative and trial experience taught me one important truth: all corroborative evidence is “touch-point” evidence. It’s tempting to think the only kind of acceptable corroborative evidence would be video showing the entire event in minute detail. Few events (either historical or criminal) are documented this well, however. Instead, eyewitness claims are typically corroborated by limited pieces of evidence verifying only a portion of the larger account.
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When Being a Christian Is like Being a Californian

Written by J. Warner Wallace |
Sunday, January 14, 2024
As Christians, we can defend what we believe about Jesus evidentially. We can make a case with the evidence from the first century and the universe around us. I pray that you and I, as Jesus followers, can become “Evidential Christians.” In the increasingly antagonistic culture in which we now live, we no longer have the luxury of being a Christian the way I am a Californian.

I live in California; that makes me a Californian. I’ve lived here in gorgeous, temperate, beautiful Southern California my entire life (are you jealous yet?) I’ve got a right to call myself a Californian, even though I often take it for granted. After all, without doing some research online, I’d have great difficulty telling you when the state of California was even established or what that historic process looked like. I really don’t know the precise structure of California state government (i.e. how many members are in the state legislature). I also have no idea how the state government operates (i.e. the rules that govern how a bill is turned into a law), or the content of any of its core value or mission statements (if it even has such things).  I barely know the names of the counties in my area, let alone the northern part of the state. I’m a rather poorly informed Californian, I will have to admit. But I do know that I like it here. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It’s sunny.
So if you ask me why I’m a Californian, I guess I’d really have little to offer you aside from the fact that I was born here, am comfortable here, enjoy my proximity to the beach and the beautiful weather.
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The Commitment of the Apostles Confirms the Truth of the Resurrection

Written by J. Warner Wallace |
Saturday, December 16, 2023
There isn’t a single ancient document, letter or piece of evidence indicating any of the Christian eyewitnesses (the apostolic disciples) ever changed their story or surrendered their claims. Given the reasonable expectation of this Roman effort and the evidence from history confirming the trials of Christians, it’s remarkable none of the eyewitnesses ever changed their claims. Our willingness (as non-witnesses later in history) to die for what we believe has no evidential value, but the willingness of the first disciples to die for what they saw with their own eyes is a critical piece of evidence in the case for Christianity.

Many of us, as committed Christians, would rather die than reject our Savior. Around the world today, Christians are executed regularly because they refuse to deny their allegiance to Jesus or the truth claims of Christianity. But their deaths, while heartbreaking and compelling, have no evidential value. Many people are willing to die for what they don’t know is a lie. Martyrdom doesn’t confirm the truth, especially when the martyrs don’t have first-hand access to the claim for which they’re dying. But this wasn’t the case for the disciples of Jesus. They were in a unique position: they knew if the claims about Jesus were true. They were present for the life, ministry, death and alleged resurrection of Jesus. If the claims about Jesus were a lie, the disciples would have known it (in fact they would have been the source of the lie). That’s why their commitment to their testimony was (and is) so compelling. Unlike the rest of us, their willingness to die for their claims has tremendous evidential value. In fact, the commitment of the apostles confirms the truth of the resurrection.
The traditions related to the deaths of the apostles are well known. According to local and regional histories, all of the disciples died for their claims related to the Resurrection:
Andrew was crucified in Patras, Greece.Bartholomew (aka Nathanael) was flayed to death with a whip in Armenia.James the Just was thrown from the temple and then beaten to death in Jerusalem.James the Greater was beheaded in Jerusalem.John died in exile on the island of Patmos.Luke was hanged in Greece.Mark was dragged by horse until he died in Alexandria, Egypt.Matthew was killed by a sword in Ethiopia.Matthias was stoned and then beheaded in Jerusalem.Peter was crucified upside down in Rome.Philip was crucified in Phrygia.Thomas was stabbed to death with a spear in India.
As a detective (and a very skeptical one at that), I don’t necessarily accept all these traditions with the same level of certainty. Some are better attested than others; I have far greater confidence in the history related to Peter’s death, for example, than I have in the claims related to Matthias’ death. But I am still confident these men died for their claims, even if I may be uncertain about precisely how they died.
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What Qualifies As Evidence? Everything!

Written by J. Warner Wallace |
Friday, September 22, 2023
For more information about the nature of Biblical faith and a strategy for communicating the truth of Christianity, please read Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith. This book teaches readers four reasonable, evidential characteristics of Christianity and provides a strategy for sharing Christianity with others. 

Last week while talking on the phone with my friend and fellow Christian Case Maker, Rice Broocks (author of God’s Not Dead), the topic of evidence was raised. Both of us present the case for Christianity on university campuses around the country and we’ve discovered a great deal of cultural confusion related to what qualifies as evidence when trying to make a case. Many people simply don’t understand the basic categories of evidence and mistakenly think prosecutors need a particular kind of evidence to be successful. As it turns out, evidence falls into one of two categories: direct and indirect. Direct evidence is simply eyewitness testimony. Indirect evidence (also known as circumstantial evidence) is everything else. When I say “everything else” I mean precisely that: everything has the potential to be considered as evidence. In the many years I’ve been making criminal cases in the State of California, I’ve presented physical objects, statements, behaviors and much more to make my case. Take a look at the variety of evidences typically presented in criminal jury trials:
Forensic physical evidenceNon-forensic physical evidenceWhere the victim was attackedWhere the victim wasn’t attackedItems discovered at the crime sceneItems missing from the crime sceneWords the suspect said
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We Need More than an Accidental Faith

Written by J. Warner Wallace |
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
My rather sterile investigation of the gospels lead me to believe THAT Jesus was God and THAT He died for my sins and I certainly accepted His offer of Salvation. But while I considered myself “saved,” I seemed to trust Jesus for little else. I knew it was time to stretch, to step out in faith, to dream much bigger than I had ever dreamed before and trust Jesus for the results. I began to serve in the local church, entered seminary, began to write and podcast and eventually found myself with the opportunity to write a book. The crazy journey began to take shape.

The Gospel of John records an important conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus:
John Chapter 31Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2this man came to Him by night, and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know THAT You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (emphasis mine)
Jesus then talks to Nicodemus about what it means to be “born again” and concludes the conversation by saying:
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes IN Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (emphasis again mine)
Jesus took the time here to make a distinction between belief THAT and trust IN. There’s clearly a difference between knowing THAT Jesus is a good teacher and believing IN Jesus as God and Savior.
In 1996 I did not believe that Jesus was anything more than a misunderstood legend from the first century. I had been a police officer and detective for several years, and I was a proud, independent, willful atheist. I was unmoved (and unconvinced) by the alleged evidence that Jesus actually lived or that the New Testament gospels could be trusted as eyewitness accounts. Well that’s not actually true. To be honest, I was simply unfamiliar with the depth of the evidence and unwilling to examine it fairly. I had been raised by an atheist and a cultural Catholic and thought the God of the Bible was an imaginary, unnecessary crutch.
When I walked into a Christian church in 1996, it was the first time I had ever been in a non-Catholic church building for anything other that a wedding. It’s still a mystery to me why I even decided to go in the first place. I was definitely there for my wife more than I was there for me. I still saw no need for such superstitions. I was, however, captivated by the way the pastor described Jesus. He offered Jesus as a wise sage with important wisdom that could speak to my life and inform my decision making in important areas like work, relationships and parenting. While I wasn’t interested in Christianity, I was interested in what this ancient sage had to say.
I bought my first Bible. It was an inexpensive pew Bible; I think it cost me less than five dollars. As I read through the gospels, I was surprised to find that they seemed to display characteristics of true eyewitness accounts. One of these is something I call “unintended eyewitness support.” It’s not unusual for an eyewitness to a crime to describe the events in such a way that more questions are raised than answered. It’s not until an additional eyewitness is interviewed that the questionable observation is reconciled in some way.
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Is Christianity Intolerant?

Written by J. Warner Wallace |
Friday, August 11, 2023
The concept (and the actual word) “acceptance” has been added to the definition in a way that subtly transforms the classic definition. This view promotes not that we must “endure” each other in the context of our disagreements, but that we must “accept” and embrace each other’s worldview as equally valuable and equally true. 

There is growing cultural skepticism and criticism of all things “Christian”. At times like this, the issue of religious “tolerance” is sometimes raised and examined. Christians are often called intolerant, especially when examined under a new definition of tolerance that has emerged in our culture. How should we respond when people call us “intolerant” simply because we refuse to embrace a particular value or behavior?
First: Help People Understand “Classic” Tolerance
YourDictionary.com says that tolerance is “a tolerating or being tolerant, esp. of views, beliefs, practices, etc. of others that differ from one’s own”. And when asked what it is to tolerate something, the same source says that we ‘tolerate’ someone when we “recognize and respect (others’ beliefs, practices, etc.) without sharing them”. TheFreeDictionary.com says that ‘tolerating’ is “to put up with” or “endure” something.
Now did you notice something here? In order for ‘tolerance’ to exist and to be demonstrated, several things are required. Let’s take a look at the list of pre-requisites for ‘tolerance’:
1. Two or more people must exist2. These folks must hold divergent views, beliefs or practices. In other words, they must DISAGREE.3. These same folks must endure one another. In other words, they cannot eliminate each other even though they don’t embrace each other’s beliefs, but must instead find a way to peacefully co-exist.
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Why Is the Trinity an Essential Christian Doctrine?

Written by J. Warner Wallace |
Friday, July 21, 2023
The cross is the place where God Himself paid the price of our sin; He did not require the death of another created being, the sacrifice of one human for another. Instead, He offered himself in our place. In addition, the Trinity explains an apparent contradiction in Scripture. The Bible clearly teaches that God is ONE (see Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Isaiah 43:10, James 2:19, 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6 and 1 Timothy 2:5-6). At the same time, however, the Bible also teaches that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all possess the classic divine attributes of omnipotence (Isaiah 64:8, John 1:3, Job 33:4), omniscience (1 John 3:20, John 16:30, 1 Corinthians 2:10), omnipresence (1 Kings 8:27, Matthew 28:20, Psalm 139:7-10), and omnibenevolence (John 3:16, Ephesians 5:25, Romans 15:30-31). 

I recently received an email question from a listener who wrote: “I have studied quite a few different translations of the bible and have full faith in what it says. I also believe that Jesus is my savior, and do my best to live by what He taught. However, I am not a Christian according to many religious leaders, because I do not believe in the doctrine regarding the trinity. I have read nothing in the Word that supports this idea, in fact Jesus proclaims many time that He is less than the Father. My question is simply this, how can I be judged based on my faith in Jesus and following what he taught, and be told that I am not Christian because I won’t accept what I believe is a man-made theory?”
Keeping Jesus In His Place
Most people (and groups) who have historically denied the triune nature of God have relegated Jesus to a subordinate position that describes Him as something less than divine. This is perhaps the greatest danger in misunderstanding the Trinity. To deny the Trinity is to either embrace some form of polytheism or deny the Deity of Jesus. For this reason, a denial of the Trinity is a denial of Christian orthodoxy.
A Suitable Sacrifice
If Jesus is simply a created being (even if He is something special yet not God), His death on the cross is insufficient to save us from our sin. In fact, if Jesus is not God Himself, the Christian God can fairly be described as a horrific deity that requires human sacrifice to appease his demands for justice. This is a common objection offered by skeptics who fail to understand the Trinity and the Deity of Jesus. The cross is the place where God Himself paid the price of our sin; He did not require the death of another created being, the sacrifice of one human for another. Instead, He offered himself in our place.
Solving a Biblical Dilemma
In addition, the Trinity explains an apparent contradiction in Scripture.
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