Review: J. Warner Wallace’s God’s Crime Scene

I’m a sucker for a good police procedural. And I’m not alone. Some of the most popular and lasting shows are stuff like CSI, NCIS, and Law and Order. That’s what drew me to J. Warner Wallace’s first book Cold Case Christianity but what kept me was the engaging stories and good writing. God’s Crime Scene offers more of the same but instead of tackling the question of Does God exist? He’s looking at evidence for divine design in the cosmos—morality, fine tuning, free will, origins of life, etc.

Each chapter is structured around a crime scene investigation that Wallace worked during his time as a detective. He collects and examines the evidence seeking to determine whether the cause was “inside the room” or “outside the room.” You can see how this makes a great framework for examining evidence for divine design in the cosmos.

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12 Quotations from Os Guinness’ Fool’s Talk

Os Guinness. Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion. IVP Books. Downers Grove, IL, 2015.

“It might seem bizarre, almost unimaginable, that Christian communication ha lost something so central to its mission. Yet in profound ways it has, and that is why our challenge is to think about apologetics in ways that are not only fresh but faithful and independent—faithful in the sense that they are shaped by the imperatives of Christian truths, and independent in the sense that they are not primarily beholden to ways of thinking that are alien to Christian ways of thinking. (p. 18)

Our urgent need today is to reunite evangelism and apologetics, to make sure that our best arguments are direct toward winning people and not just winning arguments, and to seek to do all this in a manner that is true to the gospel itself.” (p. 18)

“Christian advocacy must move from our love of God and his truth and beauty, to our love for the people we talk to and work right up to their love for God and his truth and beauty in their turn.” (p. 45)

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Review: Os Guinness’ Fool’s Talk (IVP Books)

Os begins by setting out two propositions: first, we are in “the grand age of apologetics” (16) and second, “We have lost the art of Christian persuasion and we must recover it”(17 italics original). His game plan? Bringing together the art of apologetic and evangelism. Divorce the two and you get Christians only concerned with winning arguments and not people or just concerned with ABC repeat-after-me tactics. When the two are combined, you have arguments that take other’s belief seriously, are actually concerned for people, and are aimed at the heart.

I’m a recovering ABC repeat-after-me evangelists and grew up in a tradition that could be manipulative when inviting people to Christ. So even though in my head I know persuasion isn’t bad sometimes I find myself suspicious when the word pops up in the context of evangelism. If you’re like me, you might have thought, Shouldn’t we just proclaim the gospel and allow the Spirit to work?

What I loved most of all was how cruciform and Spirit-dependent Os was through out Fool’s Talk. He made clear our arguments rest on the cross of Christ which is folly to an unbelieving world and the power of the Spirit (28). Persuasion doesn’t mean deception or cheesy bait-and-switch tactics. It means approaching apologetics-evangelism with excellence like we would anything else.

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Review: Andy Crouch’s Culture Making›

Andy Crouch wants Christians to think rightly about culture. And not only how we think about it, but also how it fits within the framework of what God has accomplished in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He says that he had “a hunch that the language of ‘engaging the culture,’ let alone the ‘culture wars,’ fell far short. . . . I also sensed that most churches were neglecting the centrality of culture to the bible story and the gospel itself” (p. 5) and “Indeed, the good news is the world is already changed, in a specific and astonishing way. God’s ways are not our ways. . . . The good news about culture is that culture is finally not about us, but about God” (p. 7).

That gospel rootedness reorients the entire discussion ongoing in the church. Culture making is less about what we do or accomplish, rather it’s about what God has already done and is doing in the world. Culture Making starts in Part 1 by defining and exploring what culture is (“Culture is, first of all, the name or our relentless, restless human effort to take the world as it’s given to us and make something else” [p. 23 also see p. 36 “culture is what we were made to do”].

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Incarnational Evidence: Our Lion is Real

a representation of Aslan from C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series. Photo Credit: alanbob41

I recently began reading the blog of Leighton Taylor. We share a loose connection because his father was my pastor for a few years at the end of my collegiate career and during the first year or so of my marriage. He has recently rejected Christianity for Agnostic Atheism. In his most recent post “So what do you believe now? Are you an atheist?” he tries to explain concisely what he now believes. What struck me was this paragraph. Says Leighton,

As far as how to determine which evidence we should follow, I think the scientific method is the best way to learn about the facts of reality. Science is, however, limited to the physical universe by definition. That doesn’t mean that the supernatural doesn’t exist; merely that science is incapable of measuring or commenting on the supernatural. If I claim that an invisible, incorporeal, heatless, noiseless dragon is floating in this room, it would be impossible for science to verify that claim, because it would be non-physical and therefore extra- or super-natural. I guess I view competing religious claims as being analogous to different people claiming that different invisible, untouchable dragons exist in the same room. No one can prove that their dragon exists, but they’re all equally convinced that they are right and that the others are deceived. Since none of them have any good evidence, I remain unconvinced that any of them exist. I used to believe in one of these dragons, but now I see that people are just as convinced as I was that other dragons are real, and I realize that if it’s possible for others to be mistaken about their dragons, it’s possible for me to have been mistaken about mine. (emphasis mine)

So religion is comparable to claiming “that an invisible, incorporeal, heatless, noiseless dragon is floating in this room” without any proof that one actually does. Well we could compare orthodox, Trinitarian Christianity to the assortment of religious gibberish available today and see that there is a pile full of evidence that our dragon exists (or from here forward the Lion). However, we will skip over all the historical, textual, experiential evidence and focus in on one line of evidence which no other religion can claim. Let’s call this incarnational evidence.

In Leighton’s example this dragon is invisible yet we do not claim our Lion is invisible. We claim he came in human flesh born of a woman during the Roman empire. Lived as a boy. Grew into a man. Learned. Toiled. Struggled. Preached peace with God, repentance from sin, and a coming kingdom. And then was killed and rose again and was actually seen by well over 500 people (some of who documented this) and we actually have manuscripts within 50 years of this to back it up.

So you see. Our Lion is real. He’s got teeth, fur, and a mane. There’s a wound in his side. He bleeds like us. For good measure he’s got a roar that wakes the dead and the undeniable swagger of a king. Now you are welcome to contest the evidence but you cannot claim there is none; otherwise, you come off like those claiming the Holocaust wasn’t real when people are walking around with numbers branded into their flesh.