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Homicide Detective Makes the Case for Faith

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Author of numerous books, his latest, Forensic Faith, David C. Cook Publishing, 2017

Cold-case homicide detective

Investigative work featured on NBC’s Dateline

Former youth pastor, Saddleback Church

Sr. Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian World View

Creator, Cold-case Christianity website, blog and podcast

Adjunct professor, Apologetics, Biola University

Master’s, Theological Studies, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

Married, Susie, 36 years

4 children

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Jim is the third generation of a law enforcement family.  By the time he was in his 30s, Jim was promoted to detective.  He was a devoted husband and father.  Jim was also an atheist.  “I rejected supernaturalism thoroughly, denying both the existence of a supernatural God and the possibility of the miraculous,” he says.  “I truly believed everything I observed in the universe could be explained and attributed to natural, physical causes and process.”  When he was 35, Jim was exposed to the Gospel message and was intrigued with the story of Jesus so he bought a cheap, red letter Bible. “I wanted to see what Jesus had to say,” says Jim. He became interested in God’s existence only after realizing the Gospels could be viewed as “eyewitness accounts.” Jim decided to investigate this Jesus of the Bible like he investigated all of his cases: by reviewing the evidence. Jim grew up in a home that emphasized the importance of using evidence to make a case for what they believed.  

If Christians will learn how to approach their beliefs evidentially and take the same forensic approach detectives take when examining an event from the past, the rest will take care of itself.  “I believe a forensic faith will comfortably survive in the age of reason,” says Jim.  He says there are two types of evidence: direct and indirect. Direct evidence is the testimony of the eyewitnesses.  Indirect is everything else.  “The people who knew Jesus personally, those who observed His miracles and heard His teachings, eventually made their case based on their authority as eyewitnesses,” he says.  Jim explains that Jesus understood this and didn’t expect His followers to believe what He said without good reason so He continually supported His testimony with the indirect evidence of the miracles He performed!

Jim says many people don’t understand why we have to be evidential.  We live in a culture where we have to be able to defend what we believe.  This is a generation who doesn’t believe in the miraculous.  “It’s fact versus opinion and fact always wins,” says Jim.  He says we need to approach this like first responders.  “First responders are the most engaged in our culture. “Our culture needs first responders,” says Jim.  The question Christians must ask themselves is, “Why do we believe Christianity is true?” and “How do we investigate a case?” Jim says we need to stop teaching our young people and start training them.  There is value in teaching, but training is focused on preparing for a challenge.

Jim says there are 5 practices to help you examine the claims of Christianity like a good detective.  

  1. Read the Bible completely. Become the best expert you can be.
  2. Think about the evidence for God and the Bible broadly. Keep an open mind about what would qualify as evidence.
  3. Take notes and analyze the Bible thoroughly.  
  4. Summarize and organize the biblical evidence usefully.
  5. Add to the biblical case evidentially.  Look outside the Christian “casebook” and present the case for the historicity of Jesus.

Jim says we all have choices where we spend our time and discretionary income.  “For most of us, it’s something other than God,” he says.  “We face a generation that has already accepted social issues like the transgender movement.”  Now more than ever is the time to make the case for a more reasonable evidential Christian faith. 

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