I belong to several Christian Apologetics Facebook clubs, and on one of these pages a discussion recently started related to “minimum requirements”. A member of the club asked: “What is the credential necessary for calling oneself a Christian Apologist? Is there a specific certification or educational requirement, or just a personal declaration that you are a Christian Apologist?” This question reminded me of a recent email I received from a podcast listener who asked a related question: “How can I become a full-time Christian Apologist?” Many of us have an interest in “apologetics” (a discipline I call “Christian Case Making”) but hesitate to formally identify ourselves as “apologists”. When I answer questions such as these, I am quick to give the same response: If you’re a Christian, you’re already an apologist (a “Case Maker”) and you ought to start identifying yourself in this way immediately:
Accept Your Identification
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 that all of us have a duty to be ever-ready to make the case for our hope in Jesus. This isn’t an option reserved for a few well-trained professionals; all of us, regardless of position or vocation, are tasked with this honor. As I wrote in Cold Case Christianity, when we, as Christians, live without embracing this aspect of our identity, we are living an abbreviated Christian life. The sooner you accept this aspect of your Christian character and identify yourself as an apologist, the more likely you are going to take it seriously. Start calling yourself a Christian Case Maker (“apologist”) today.
Accept Your Obligation
Although every Christian is called to be a Case Maker, some are definitely better than others. Once you begin to identify yourself in this way, you’ll sense your own inadequacies as you engage others. As a result, you’ll likely begin to train yourself (formally or informally) to meet the challenge. You may find yourself in a certification or advanced education program, but you may not. Some of the best and most effective apologists are not formally trained in apologetics. The two best-selling apologetics authors in America, Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel, have no formal training in the area of apologetics or philosophy. It’s clear, however, that both of these men take their obligation as Christian Case Makers seriously and have studied their worldview and practiced their craft.
Accept Your Location
While many of us would love to leave our “day jobs” to work as vocational apologists, let me encourage you to stay wherever God has already placed you. I am a “one dollar apologist”; a Christian Case Maker who still derives 90% of my income from my career as a detective. I have always equated my life as a Christian with my life as a Christian Case Maker. For this reason, I could no more call myself a vocational Christian apologist than I could call myself a vocational Christian. God has given me this set of investigative skills so I can share them with others, and He’s placed me in this career, at this time and place, as part of the larger Christian family.
When I was a pastor, I embraced the difficult mission of equipping my congregants to do the work of ministry and to become good Christian Case Makers. Many of us think of pastors and church leaders as the people who are supposed to have all the answers and we sometimes defer our Christian responsibilities to those we see in positions of leadership or notoriety. We can also do this with well-known apologists and Christians thinkers; it’s easy to concede our Case Making responsibility to others. But, if you’re a Christian, you’re already a Christian Case Maker. You’re either a good one or a poor one; a well-equipped ambassador or an unprepared citizen of the Kingdom. It’s time to identify yourself as an apologist, train yourself to make the case and begin to reach the world for Christ from wherever you may be.
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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