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When Being a Christian Is Like Being a Californian

When Being a Christian Is Like Being a Californian
Image Credit: Edgar Colomba from Pexels

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. While those are good reasons to live here, they have nothing to do with the rich history of our state, the way the state operates or the objective truth of its propositions. I have very selfish reasons for living here and I will readily admit them.

As I travel and speak at churches around the country, I’ve come to realize that many of us are Christians in the same way I am a Californian. Maybe we have parents that were Christians and we’ve been a part of the Church for as long as we can remember. Maybe we like the Church because it’s comfortable, familiar or helpful. As a result, we haven’t really taken the time to understand what the Church truly claims about Jesus or about the nature of the world around us. We haven’t even taken the time to study the history of the Church or how the truth has been handed down to us. In many ways our membership in the Church is a lot like my citizenship in California; we’re just here because we were born here, it’s comfortable and it serves our purposes.

When someone then asks us why we are here, we can offer them our personal testimony, but little more. We can give them subjective opinions, but no objective evidence to support a case for citizenship in the Kingdom. Are we really satisfied with this kind of response? Will this kind of subjective response suffice in our world today? I don’t think so. I have many Mormon relatives. They are sincere, loving, devoted believers, but they are not evidential believers because they cannot hold on to the claims of Mormonism if they tried to defend them with evidence. They insist, instead, on defending them with testimony (personal, subjective reasons why they remain in the LDS Church). 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. 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. Click To Tweet

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.

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Written By

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured cold-case homicide detective, popular national speaker and best-selling author. He continues to consult on cold-case investigations while serving as a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is also an Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and a faculty member at Summit Ministries. He holds a BA in Design (from CSULB), an MA in Architecture (from UCLA), and an MA in Theological Studies (from Gateway Seminary).



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  4. Jan King

    January 12, 2024 at 6:03 pm

    As a longtime former Californian the title here caught my attention. My parents relocated to central CA when I was 4, later settling in south San Diego. As a schoolgirl I could see the lights of Tijuana at night on the hill across the river from my front yard. As a young married I had 4 children in Orange County. Some while later I lived minutes from the Oregon border on the beautiful coast, in sight of the majestic mountains and redwoods. I loved California for many of the reasons you’ve stated.
    Just as my love of the beauty of California started in my youth, so did my love of Jesus Christ. And just as my journey lead me away from California in my 30s, so did my understanding of the true nature Jesus as I joined the Mormon church. As a long time fan of forensic cop shows, when more and more of the LDS doctrine wasn’t adding up, my son recommended “Cold Case Christianity”. Many of my questions about the Bible were answered, and the “real” Jesus was revealed to me!

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