Book Review, Forensic Faith, by J. Warner Wallace. –  Colin Burgess. 

J. Warner Wallace, a guy who has mastered the art of being a tent-maker for Christ, has certainly incorporated his vocational experience as a Cold Case investigator for the LAPD and has applied these vocational skills to defending and articulating his faith, which he found while serving in the police force. He has authored other books, which best outline his defence for Biblical Christianity, using his inductive apologetic method, such as “Alive”, a case for the resurrection, and more famous, “God’s Crime Scene” and “Cold Case Christianity.”
Wallace’s more recent book, “Forensic Faith” is less of an apologetic and more of an apologetic for apologetics. His contention is certainly not “Why are Christians so stupid?”, so much as “Why are Christians leaving their brains at the door?” This book is definitely a strong call to take intellectual responsibility for our faith and serves as a primer to epistemology, without being too philosophically technical.  He notes valuable instances where he takes exception with police officers he worked with over the years, who were outstanding at their jobs, but compartmentalized their faith from their intellectual lives, and cites these as examples why he rejected Christianity, having been brought up in a home where skepticism was alive and well. 

This book can be summed up as “We cannot count on happy accidents in forming true beliefs!” In this book he recollects a case where his partner was accidentally correct in his guess that a spouse has committed a murder, and while Wallace disagreed with his partner, who turned out to be correct, his partner’s guesswork, or intuition, did not count as genuine knowledge. What counts, in epistemology, as genuine knowledge is not a lucky guess which so happens to be true, but a justified true belief. In order for something to count as knowledge it must be justified, true and it must be believed. One cannot have knowledge without these three components being in place and a perfect track record of lucky guesses still does not ever count as genuine knowledge. Undoubtedly, based on this criteria for truth, alone, Wallace is the last guy to ever consult a psychic investigator.  
So, is Christianity true, so we believe it, or do we believe something which just so happens to be true? Wallace argues we can do much better than the Mormon’s who, with no justification, are agnostic in their belief and find little to no justification for their doctrinal assertions.  Christianity has no religious peers and stands far apart from other religions, like Islam and Mormonism, which merely assert ideas which may or may not be true. Wallace notes that while Jesus made truth claims, they were never believed at face value, but were always accompanied by a miracle, authenticating the claim, “So that we may know…” Mark 2:10-11. 

Wallace’s career in police forensics has been a devotion to the use of inductive logic, which is slightly different than deductive logic, in that deductive logic is less about experience and more about what is independent of experience. In inductive logic, one is working from a particular instance, such as a dead body, and reasoning backwards to a general cause, while using deductive principles, and in police forensics one is seeking a sufficient cause to explain a series of events. This may be the case with reconstructing the scene of an accident, or a murder, the material evidence is different in form, but the principles are the same. Wallace employs this type of logic in defending the resurrection and other historical events claimed within Christianity, and cites numerous verses defending the notion that Christianity is founded on good evidence, and indisputable facts and while we are not directly privy to these events, in that particular historical events are not happening over and over again in our midst, we can examine the evidence based on contemporary and eyewitness accounts. 
Apologetics is a tough sell in the church, because we are preaching to the choir already, and apologetics would still be necessary even if the whole world were Christian, because Christianity never ceases to be an intellectual faith which rests on evidence. Much of this book can be summarized as, “The early church were evidential in their understanding and acceptance of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, so why should we be agnostic about there being real objective truths about Christianity?” We certainly aren’t off the hook. 

This book does much more than call us to apologetics as a church, but follows up with advice for developing apologetic programs within a church or group, and for us to individually grow intellectually as Christians. Wallace certainly takes his occupation and applies it to his ministry, and I am sure he applies his ministry to his vocation, just as much. He has stepped into both his faith and the police force with a very tough mind and we should as well. 

I would highly suggest this book for young adult, or adult Sunday school groups, and para church apologetic groups. This book does also have a study guide, which can be used for self study, or for any type of group. Wallace’s books would undoubtedly be invaluable for any parent seeing their child off to university, where their faith will undoubtedly come under attack. This book, in particular, would serve for developing an apologetics culture within any church, where no belief is taken for granted.  Wallace is a guy who does not see apologetics as belonging in ivory tower debates, but something which belongs in lunchroom discussions, as much as a university debate. Undoubtedly, even William Lane Craig would not expect us to all be academics, like himself, and understands that he cannot fight our apologetic fights for us, but expects us to learn what we can from him and apply it to our individual corridor of developing our faith and evangelizing to those around us. I think this accurately sums up the personal ministry of J. Warner Wallace, and I look forward to more of his books being written and becoming available to the church. 

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