In one chapter of Cold-Case Christianity, I take the time to examine the motivations that typically drive people to commit murder. There are only three, and once you understand these motives, the search for a killer is much more focused and purposeful. In a similar way, those of us who identify ourselves as Christian Case Makers are typically driven by a limited number of motivations, and once we understand what is stirring us to action in the first place, we can be more focused and purposeful in our efforts to make the case for the Christian Worldview. I’ve been thinking this week about the different reasons that motivate people to engage in Christian case making:
“Assuasive” Case Making
Some of us examine the evidence simply because we are wrestling with doubt. Many fine Christian case makers began their journey in an effort to assuage their personal fears and concerns. Assurance is often the consequence of evidential certainty, and the search for certainty can be a compelling and worthy motivation for case makers.
“Preemptive” Case Making
Some of us recognize the challenge facing our young people as they enter a hostile university setting. This challenge can be a great motivator as we seek to prepare our students to respond to common objections. Some of us are, therefore, driven to “inoculate” fellow Christians with the truth in an effort to preempt the influence of the cultural onslaught.
“Defensive” Case Making
Many of us also recognize the danger facing Christianity from within. In an effort to guard Christians from false teaching and the spiritual “fads” that threaten Christian orthodoxy, many of us have taken up the responsibility of guarding the truth. Counter-cult ministries are particularly focused on this commendable goal of Christian case making.
“Conceited” Case Making
We must also admit, however, that many of us engage in case making discussions (both in person and on-line) in an effort to show the world how smart we are or how well we can handle ourselves in difficult conversations. I’ll admit that there have been times when I was more motivated by arrogance than altruism; the sound of my own voice was more important than the truth of my words.
“Evangelistic” Case Making
Finally, some of us are animated to share the Gospel message with as many people as possible. In the context of this ambition, Christian case making is simply a means to an end. Sometimes we find ourselves having to sort through the evidence on our way to the Good News, and when this is helpful, we are more than willing to make the case for why the Gospel is true.
As a Christian Case Maker, I can honestly say that my efforts have been motivated by all these reasons at one time or another. If you’re someone who is interested in the Christian evidences, I bet this is true for you as well. All of these motives (with the exception of “Conceited” Case Making) are legitimate, appropriate and commendable. As I get older, however, I’ve discovered that I am more interested in evangelism than ever before. Maybe it’s because I sense the urgency in my own life and in the lives of my aging friends and family members. In any case, I’ve decided to allow my primary motive (my growing desire to use my platform to share the Gospel) to shape the way I make the case for Christianity. Once we understand why we are engaged in this effort, we can be more focused and purposeful about how we make the case for the Christian Worldview.
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. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Forensic Faith DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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