I’ve been investigating cold-case homicides for over 26 years. My professional career (and now my consulting opportunities with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office) have been both challenging and rewarding. More importantly, they’ve helped me to refine my skills as an investigator. I am determined to stay active and help detectives and prosecutors investigate cold-cases across the county. This year, I’ll be spending two months assisting the District Attorney in an effort to provide some needed insight (if I am able) to a local law enforcement agency.
Even though I have learned a lot from my years investigating difficult cases, it’s important to continue to examine crimes to “stay in the game”. While investigative theories, principles and approaches have been critical to my success, I can’t call myself an investigator if I’m not actually involved in investigations! And at this point in my life, I’m simply not willing to stop calling myself an investigator. As I have transitioned into the world of professional Christian Case Making (Apologetics), I’ve come to realize that there are many people who think deeply about how we ought to reach the lost and less time actually employing the principles they advance. In fact, some of us get easily sidetracked into philosophical and theoretical discussions that actually distract us from reaching the world around us.
I occasionally attend the California Homicide Investigators Association (CHIA) conference. Hundreds of detectives come together every year to talk about their cases, to learn from one another and to share principles that have helped them to succeed. We spend a lot of time talking to one another at these conferences, but we seldom ever actually solve any cases or make any arrests while we are there. These conferences are important, make no mistake about it, but they simply cannot replace the day to day work of investigating cases and making arrests. It’s one thing to talk to one another about how to crack cases; it’s another thing to actually to talk to the witnesses and suspects that will help us solve our cases.
My hope, as I shift the largest portion of my time and attention to the field of Christian Case Making, is that I spend less time talking about how we ought to “do apologetics” and more time actually making a case for the Christian worldview to people who need to hear the truth. I understand why it’s important to discuss the benefits of one kind of apologetic approach or another (from classical, to evidential to presuppositional philosophies), but in my criminal investigations, no one goes to jail until the detectives stop talking and start doing. As Christians, it’s important for us to understand the philosophical foundations of our approaches, but we can’t call ourselves Christian Case Makers unless we are regularly engaging a lost world. Let’s get busy.
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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