We’re excited to have on the podcast today a brother in Christ out of Torrance, California. He’s worked in Los Angeles County for more than 25 years in law enforcement, with vast experience as a cold-case detective. More recently, he’s an author and popular speaker spending his time showing people that the case could be made from evidence for Christianity. Jim Wallace is on the podcast today to help us consistently and confidently give a reason for the very hope that is in us.
As an adult working in law enforcement, Jim Wallace was a philosophical naturalist and an atheist. He didn’t believe in anything supernatural. When he finally gave in to some friends’ invitation to go to church, he heard two things in particular that piqued his curiosity. The pastor that day said that 1) Jesus was the smartest man who ever lived, and 2) the moral teachings of Jesus were the foundation of Western civilization. Jim decided he’d read the Bible to see if those things were true. He describes how he appliedhis particular skillset acquired as a detective, especially forensic statement analysis, as he read through the Gospels. Jim’s investigation into the New Testament led to him becoming a Christian at the age of 35. What he expected to find within the body of believers were people with similar stories of discovering their faith through in depth study of the scriptures. What he discovered was something quite different.
As a speaker, Jim would often ask “Why are you a Christian?” He found that their responses always fell into two main groups – 1) I was raised this way, and 2) my beliefs were confirmed for me in some way. But, as it turns out, every religious believer of any faith is going to have those two answers. So, if we as Christians don’t believe that those other views are true, then why would we want our answer to sound like theirs?He finds that today’s church is sadly lacking when it comes to preparing their young people to defend their faith. Jim is on a mission to train others how to give uniquely Christian answers to those questions that arise when people are searching for explanations of Christianity’s claims, and he’s doing itboth online as well as guest speaking to congregations. The key is for people to approach training expecting to be deployed; that is, learn with the expectation that you will go out and use this information, and sooner rather than later.
According to polls that Jim and his team have taken over the years, people walk away from their Christian beliefs between the ages of 10 and 17. The bad news is that this is happening much earlier than previously thought. The good news is that rather than happening once they’ve moved away for college, this shift is actually most likely to happen while they’re still in junior high, where parents still have a great deal of impact. For kids with questions about any claim of Christianity, Google has the answers that the typical Christian is lacking, and will pull up pages and pages of results. Unfortunately, the Christian defense of those claims will be outnumbered by the atheist objections at a ratio of 3:1. So at some point, if they land on those sites first, Jim says don’t be surprised that they’re going to walk away from their faith before they get to college. He’s put together some awesome resources online to help parents be the best source of information for their kids. But, as Jim points out, it’s not enough to just buy his book and give it to your kids. Parents should intentionally set out to learn it AND live it in front of their kids.
Jim leaves us with some great advice when it comes to dealing with skeptics in our lives: Everyone has a bias. Maybe they’re examining Christianity with the bias that there will be enough evidence to demonstrate that it’s true. Or they could be hoping that there isn’t enough evidence to demonstrate that it’s true. In either case, God is sovereign and He knows what it takes to set down or eliminate that bias. Don’t be frustrated when your family members don’t seem receptive or even interested in Christianity. We can affect by way of prayer. Pray for them, because in the end, if God hasn’t removed that hostility, if people cannot set aside their bias to be fair, then no amount of evidence you show is going to be compelling enough for them. Your most persuasive argument will fall on deaf ears if what’s holding them back is something other than evidence. You aren’t in charge of that. Pray that those biases are removed so that the evidence can provide the truth.
Jake Enriquez: 00:01 Hey, welcome back to Press and Reach. My name is Jake Enriquez, your host. I pray and hope it’s been a wonderful, awesome, beautiful morning for you again once again and today. Before we really get started on this episode, man, I got to just remind you all to come back to press and reach dot com. Make sure you sign up for the newsletter as well as the devotion that goes out on Monday morning. We just like to touch base with you and stay connected with you. Uh, hopefully that we could encourage each and every one of you to continue walking in this thing called life, putting forth one foot at a time in this faith walk. Well speaking of a faith walk, today we have a special guest who is coming to us from Torrance, California. He’s a cold case detective. He’s an author, a speaker, a writer. I tell you, he, he has a lot of insight when it comes to helping us stand firm in our faith. And probably most important is the mere fact that he wants to help us to give a reason for the very hope that is in us. So let’s give a warm press and reach welcome to Mr Jim Wallace. Good Morning Jim. How you doing this morning man?
Jim Wallace: 01:04 Very good. Thanks for having me here.
Jake Enriquez: 01:06 No, thank you. We greatly appreciate your time and that you would come out and just hang out with us for just a little while. Um, I just want to…our listeners always like to get to know each other on a personal level, so if you will just kind of introduce yourself, who you are and where you’re from.
Jim Wallace: 01:24 Well, I’m living in Southern California, where I’ve worked for 25 years or more, uh, in, uh, Los Angeles County. Really just working for the most part, a cold case murders and a green most of that time as an early investigator. Anyway, I was not a believer, but I just decided at about the age of 35 to, uh, take a serious look at the gospels and New Testament and just kind of applied what I knew as an investigator, working cold cases to the gospels and eventually became a Christian. And now I’m just, for the most part, spending time showing people that the case could be made from evidence for Christianity.
Jake Enriquez: 02:05 Sure, ok. So Jim, are you, are you married? Do you have any kiddos?
Jim Wallace: 02:07 I sure do. A, I’ve been with my wife for almost 40 years and I’ve got four grown children.
Jake Enriquez: 02:16 Oh, four grown children. OK, oh, that’s awesome. And I understand you have a, another Jim, right?
Jim Wallace: 02:20 Yeah, as a matter of fact, uh, we’re not creative in that way. We have, there’s three generations of us with the same name. Oliver, overworked at the same agency working the same job. So we’ve all been there working investigations. If you know, you start on a patrol with a variety of assignments. Uh, and then eventually at some point you may or may not decide to become a detective. And I did that. My Dad did that as well. He was working a homicide back in the sixties and seventies and eighties. And I’m working them now. Uh, I’ve worked from about 1988 on and my son eventually, I’m sure we’ll probably be doing the same thing. So we all have the same name, Jim Wallace, so if you called our agency over the last 57 years and ask for Jim Wallace, there’s been somebody there answer from my son now because he’s the one who’s a, we’ve all, you know, he’s using a slightly different name. He is all of us, you know, when you’re young as a “Jim”, you’re usually a Jimmy, Jimmy, OK. You have your own gym and then he becomes Jimmy and now you lose your name. So I had that name until I was 35, now he’s using that name so he’ll actually go as Jimmy and that kind of separates him from me. Now they know him as Jimmy and they know me as Jim.
Jake Enriquez: 03:28 Right, right. OK. Well, you know what, I know that you’re used to probably speaking about, um, the evidence, uh, you know, in Christianity, and I want to touch base with you on a little bit. Something different. I mean, I want to get to know you a little bit more on a personal level because I feel it’s very valuable to all listeners, but about tell me, uh, you know, about being the son of a detective there because your dad, was he a detective or police officer? How did that work for you? Because I know when you were a kid or you were looking at him and looking up to him. So
Jim Wallace: 03:57 yeah, I think I don’t really remember him. I was too young when he was working patrol, so my earliest memories…he worked some overtime on patrol…but I mean most of it was when he was detective and so he was, you know, in a work in these big cases that for me were like, I thought they were like national level cases. Of course they were just local Los Angeles area cases, but the, uh, I remember him working those and, and visiting him and, and uh, and at the station just to see what it was all about. And I never really thought I would end up in the same job. As a matter of fact, I resisted that for a number of years. That’s why I didn’t come until I was 27, so I got my background in the fine arts and a in architecture. I have a master’s degree in architecture from UCLA.
Jim Wallace: 04:45 And then I switched over right when I was working in the Santa Monica and an architectural firm. I just decided that really the job that my dad had been working for years, a great job to raise kids with. So we were about to have our own. So I, I ended up, uh, related for selfish reasons. Uh, I didn’t really necessarily see it originally like, I got a call, but, uh, but looking back at it, I’m grateful that God, God knows what he’s doing even when I don’t. So I’m definitely, it was God’s hand in all this and I can see, you know, all of us probably have a story like that where we can look back and see that, you know, God’s working on you. But um, yeah, absolutely.
Speaker 3: 05:25 I think that it always goes back to somewhere when we were younger, some things around folding, we never really see it happening. But you know, I noticed that about yourself. You know, your dad was a police officer, detective, and you know, I did read that about you. When you talk about the, um, your gifts of the arts, you liked the fine arts, right? You like music as well, right?
Jim Wallace: 05:46 Oh, absolutely. And that’s the thing that, uh, was I think probably in some ways I’m a most difficult, uh, you know, there’s a creative aspect that was hard for me to exercise. Originally when I was working in law enforcement, I got lucky. I mean they knew I had an art background, so even within the first very first year, I think I was still on training and we had a murder or something that they needed diagrammed in and they knew I had this background and they say, can you diagram this murder for us. So I was doing all our murder illustrations and even models of, of murder locations. It’s like when I was still on training and uh, I wasn’t when I was probably another 10 years away from working, being assigned to robbery and homicide, but I was always working with those guys because they needed somebody to draw it, you know, so I would get called out even when I was working patrol later and I was working in gangs like after that and I remember working those details and getting called out all the time.
Jim Wallace: 06:44 Hey, can you, we just had a shooting, can you diagram it for us? But I didn’t miss the creative aspect that when, when I was working on cases, homicides, we found ways to be very creative and working on these cases. And that was helpful. It was this desire to do something that is kind of out of the box, you know?
Jake Enriquez: 07:01 Yeah. I mean that’s utilizing the gifts that you’ve been given and applying it in something that maybe you never saw that you would apply it in. But it’s amazing. So I think about the award that you received, I think it was five years in, you were recognized, is that right?
Jim Wallace: 07:16 Yeah. I mean, uh, if you do this long enough, you’re gonna get a bunch of, of, you know, awards, um, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re all that great because it means you’ve been doing it a long time. So I’m always ,like, hesitant to, to kind of toot my own horn in that regard, but, but yeah, you do. I mean, I’ve gotten a number of all the way from just locally to nationally, uh, over the course of, you know, 30 years of doing this or almost 30 years of donuts, so. Sure. So yeah, but it’s been, it’s been really, that’s been satisfying. But um, but really what’s been more satisfying. It’s just learning the skill set. Yeah. Because a lot of us watch these shows on TV, but we don’t necessarily understand, you know, a lot of times we will watch them as professionals and all that kind of cringe, you know, uh, that we would never do it that way. You produced that result. I mean, certainly he’s saying that the suspect and the movie is now saying this thing that he would never say in real life.
Jim Wallace: 08:12 And so that kind of stuff, so, but just to be able to be in those settings and do the things that you see on tv and in a real life setting and on important cases and then be able to take that in and help teach that to people. That has been the most satisfying thing. So I’m sure felt really great about doing that. We’ll do that. Right. So, so everything’s not like CSI and Blue Bloods. Yeah, nothing’s like that. But I think there’s some things about Blue Bloods, I’m not the case work, but just the kind of relationships in the family that yeah, you see some of that, but how we work cases and how we investigate cases. That’s always a stretch a. yeah. Because in a lot of this is we always say that sometimes even police work in general working patrol, you know, it’s hours and hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror and that’s the sheer terror part is good for tv, but the hours and hours of boredom part is not as interesting. It’s hard to kind of portray that, you know?
Jake Enriquez: 09:06 Right. Well, you’re going along as a detective, you’re going along and now as a, actually you did cold case…that’s a little bit different than just a regular detective because now this case has been passed up and put away. Now a, maybe there’s evidence that’s lost and everything else, but it’s gone. Somebody has put it on the back shelf somewhere. So you guys go in and bring it all back out and try to solve this case. And you did that for some years and along the way you, you know, every life was going fine, going great, and I saw an interview with you and it said that someone invited your wife to church. Is that right?
Jim Wallace: 09:42 Yeah. Uh, we had been here a number of years and had been invited by some friends of mine. Um, and uh, I was able to avoid it. I was able to avoid that for, three years we were here before I ever said, OK, let’s go on Sunday. Um, but, but when we finally did it, uh, this pastor was clever enough to pitch Jesus in a very, uh, you know, I don’t want to say seeker sensitive because that’s kind of gotten a bad name sometimes people talk about that, but, but certainly he was aware of the fact that there were people in that room who were not believers. And so he, he would, he would say things that were true about Jesus, but maybe wouldn’t cross the line to say anything that would, uh, would it automatically shut me down. So his early claims, he says a lot that day, but what I remember was that he said that Jesus was the smartest man who ever lived.
Jake Enriquez: 10:34 So hold on, just right there, because you’re highly educated individual. I know you’ve been to a different universities, you’ve got a degree. And when he said that, is that what really kind of got you, you know, stirred up a little bit. Like, let me go see what this guy’s talking about.
Jim Wallace: 10:49 We’re all interested in smart guys. And I was interested to even as a, as a, I was never, I never, never believed in anything supernatural. So, so I was willing to look at ancient religious sages, but not so much because I thought they were connected to God just because I thought that they probably, if they still, if they’re teaching, still exists in the 21st or 20th, 20th century, uh, then it’s probably a good indication that there’s some wisdom in that teaching that just has survived by way of vetting, has been vetted out and have used their teaching. So I would’ve been happy to read the teachings of Buddha or the teaching of Bahai law and the Bahai faith. No problem. So I first picked up the writings of Jesus, those statements of Jesus in the gospels just as a similar exercise in disguise that smart and what the pastor said, it was even more provocative.
Jim Wallace: 11:36 He said that the moral teachings of Jesus was the foundation of Western civilization. And that, that to me was the claim that, you know, you think about what police officers do. We earn enforcing the moral codes of a culture. Right, exactly. Here this guy is, is claiming that the very codes that I am in enforcing really became off the lips of Jesus first. So I was like, OK, that may be true, but that doesn’t mean he’s divine, that just means that we’ve accepted this series of codes. But I wanted to read to see if that was true. So I bought a Bible, really for that purpose. And uh, yeah, the cheap one is still least in my office. It’s, it’s, uh, you know, kind of a Pew Bible, the Bible, you would see that they don’t care if somebody takes it home with them, they actually kind of hope they do kind of a deal.
Jim Wallace: 12:24 So, and I don’t, I did, I did actually purchase this one. I didn’t take one from the church. I didn’t know you could, if I had known I could have, I think I probably just would take them one for free because I didn’t want to invest too much in this. I didn’t think that would go beyond just giving it, you know. And, and as I read through it, it had the really, immediately I knew it had the texture and character of eyewitness claims. Um, and that bug me and that was something that I now had had really kind of mastered. That was the thing in my job that I was the Go-to Guy, you know, I was the guy who would go to. You needed an interview, so if you got somebody in custody and you want to see what this guy’s going to tell us, they would call me in and I would go in and do that interview. Um, they’d also send me to schools because they realized I had that ability. So I started going to schools and I started to take classes in forensic statement analysis, which is really a process you can do as part of an interview, the suspect to write things down and then you can analyze them. So I was using that forensic statement analysis when I was reading through the gospels and it just struck me right away as, oh, I got to go a little further.
Jake Enriquez: 13:32 Yeah. I mean this is a skillset that, I mean, it’s definitely a skill set that you acquired, you learned and you were, you were using. So I remember seeing you on a movie “God’s Not Dead, 2”. Yeah. When you came to the stand. So wow. And you went off on how it wasn’t dna evidence, it was eyewitness accountability. So you’re accountable. So you went into that and that’s pretty hard to fathom or really understand for people that you know, we’re talking about many, many years ago. So who’s left? It can go and account for these things. Right? So when I think about that, I think about, you did say this, I believe in your book that gets forensic faith that you were talking about Luke in chapter one and I think it’s verse one, I’m here to this and as much as many have taken in hand to sit and order, a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us just as those who from the beginning were eye witnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us. It seemed good to me. Also, having had perfect understanding of all things when the very first to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. So when I look at that and how you explain that there was this, there was an order, there was an order to it, a certainty to it, and he wanted him to have an understanding. Now Theophilus of course, can you give us a little bit of insight on Theophilus and who he was, for a minute?
Jim Wallace: 15:02 Right. So you’re right, he is making some claims there. Now if these are late in history, when anyone who would have known if these claims were true is no longer available to vet them, you can make all kinds of claims. So. So for me, I needed to know how early did that statement occur. Does it occur at a time that’s early enough in history to, to number one. Did he really? Was He, was he writing early enough to actually have access to these alleged eye witnesses? Because you can say anything if you wait until someone one dies in all of your line. So I just needed to know how early that date that night I do. There’s a whole process you can go through and talk about.
Jim Wallace: 15:38 Christianity, which I think those are very early statements and then of course when you’re looking at, um, any kind of statement analysis, a lot of what I’m looking at our choices, three choices of the person who’s making the statement because if he has no choice that unfortunately can’t hold us statements against if he, no other way to say this, but I can’t look at how he said it and deduce anything but, but if, if there’s places in the statement where he’s got a number of choices about how he could say it, how long he could take to say at how short he could take to say it, other kinds of optional words he could use, which are usually adjectives and adverbs. Well those are the things I’m going to look at. And really. So for example, in Theophilus’ case, he calls him most excellent Theophilus.
Jim Wallace: 16:23 He doesn’t need to call him most excellent. That’s an adjective that he’s adding on as part of the title. That’s going to tell us something. By the way, when he refers to Theophilus in the first chapter of the book of Acts, he doesn’t use the word ‘most excellent’. Of course, that’s because these two documents were once one large document of Luke Acts. And so he’s not addressing Theophilus for the first time in the first chapter of Acts. He’s already introduced him and already addressed them for the first time in the first chapter of Luke would expect there’d be some difference. So again, what we’re trying to do is figure out why is it does the writer or does the speaker that you’re talking to choose. And again, it’s adjectives and adverbs. The other one that was big for me is that word ‘orderly’.
Jim Wallace: 17:03 I’m writing for you an orderly account. That’s a Greek word that means in the correct chronological order. And I want you to think about this, if I said per you, that he’s writing an account that it comes from my witnesses. And if I told you, OK, I learned a bunch of stuff about Joe and um, I can tell you everything that Joe did and I’m going to tell you, I’m going to give you an, uh, an account in the correct quantity. I mean, wouldn’t you assume, if you’re going to tell me that everything that Joe did on the day of the murder that you’re going to give it to me in the right order. Really need to tell me that I’m going to give you the account about Joe’s activity on the day of the murder, but I’m just going to scramble it all so you won’t be able to figure out when it was he did these things.
Jim Wallace: 17:42 No, I’m going to assume that your account is like all accounts of this nature in the correct chronological order. So to me, when I saw that word, that adverb or that, um, yeah, that, that adjective is orderly account. I asked the question of why does somebody feel the need to qualify this or describe it in that way? Now you typically, when you do that, you are doing it because you’re addressing some other issues. So for example, if you see a a weird part of the curb in your town and it’s got a no parking sign, well that’s probably because people had been parking there. So we put this no parking sign there to stop people from that other behavior. Well, the same thing’s happening here. If I’m putting a word in there, it’s because there’s some other accounts out there that is not in the proper order and I’m trying to distinguish my account from the other account.
Jim Wallace: 18:33 And there is another early account. It’s called the gospel of Mark. We know that it’s not in the right order because of Bishop named Papius tells us that Mark wrote his account sitting at the feet of Peter and he did not necessarily write it. He says it’s accurate if not orderly. Yes. Now, now what’s interesting about that, as you can see that there are differences in order between mark and Luke and what Luke is doing is explaining that here because the person he quotes more than any other single source is the gospel of Mark. He’s quoting Mark. So what he’s saying is, I’ve got it in the right order now. That’s interesting to me because that means he’s got to have an account that he can comment about. That means that Mark’s account predates Luke’s. So these are little clues that give you order and they give you dating. And, and so those were helpful for me as I was investigating.
Jake Enriquez: 19:21 Sure. I gotta I gotta tell you, man, most people, most people are not going to break it down that way so, you were intrigued. You dove in, you dug deep and you wouldn’t leave it alone because, uh, I mean obviously it did stir you up a little bit. You know, you had to really go find out for yourself the truth in those fine details like that. That’s the same thing that you’re accustomed to doing as a detective.
Jim Wallace: 19:51 Yeah, for no other reason. You want to pay attention to details now as the investigator or the prosecutor, because if you don’t – trust me, the defense team will. So even if you thought there was no affirmative value and being of course there is great value, you’re going to learn things you would otherwise miss, but, but even if you didn’t think of that, you’d have to cross check everything because in the end they’re going to do that to you and you don’t want to have that happen in live time, in front of a jury.
Jim Wallace: 20:15 You want to have done that, you know, weeks ago, before you ever got in front of the jury are hopefully years ago before you ever filed the case. So that’s the kind of thing that were just accustomed to dealing. And by the way, if you don’t do it as an investigator, trust me, that prosecutor is going to have a piece of you when he tries to file the case. He’s not gonna be happy with you. So we just haven’t gotten any obsessive. As much as we can be. Right? And we’re all gonna make human mistakes. And I certainly made my share over the years…to pay attention to these small details from sure.
Jake Enriquez: 20:43 Absolutely. And paying attention to detail is a must. But I tell you what we’re going to do. Let’s take a really quick break and we’ll be right back.
Jake Enriquez: 20:53 Welcome back to Press and Reach. We’re hanging out with Mr Jim Wallace and Jim, just before the break we were talking about, you know, paying attention to detail these details of course mattered to you. What also mattered to you though was the response that you would receive when you asked people why they believed, what they believed. And there were four general responses you said that people most often responded with.
Jim Wallace: 21:19 Yeah, that’s something that was, I think, powerful, because I wasn’t raised in a church setting. So I didn’t know anybody really. I knew a couple people who I knew were Christians, but not because they came up to me and they, they, they actually were evangelists there, their beliefs. I just happened to know that that guy’s a Christian. OK, fine. Now I, I also knew though that if you asked for any kind of support for that, they were not going to be able to give you any evidence that, that I did know because I had encountered a couple of these folks to ask some simple questions and never got great answers, but, but what I discovered as a, somebody who had now was a Christian once I became a Christian and I thought, well, doesn’t everybody became a Christian in the way that I just didn’t. I had no idea what the process was for people.
Jim Wallace: 21:58 Right. So I just figured I’m going to be entering into a group that’s done what I’ve done. That probably is going to be pretty theologically robust because they’re reading the same text that I’m reading and is probably gonna have some similar story in which they didn’t think it was true and they’d done it through it and made a case and then they became believers. Of course, I didn’t find that at all. I didn’t find anybody really who came the same way, which is I think, fine, everyone’s, but when I started asking as a speaker ‘why are you a Christian?’, the vast majority, I mean, really the largest single group would be saying something akin to, um, ‘I was raised that way. My parents believe this. I was brought up in the church’, which is fine. Uh, but I also have a bunch of family members who are not Christians.
Jim Wallace: 22:44 They’re Mormons and, and those, those Mormon family members, if you ask them why you’re a Mormon and they’re going to say the same thing, same thing right now. The second thing, second thing that I hear people say is I’ve had some experience that demonstrated for me that Christianity was true. That’s also probably the second largest group of responses that I get. That also has the second largest set of answers you get from a Mormon family. They believe that, that, that they were raised this way, but at some point they did have an experience that confirm for them that Joseph was a prophet, Joseph Smith. And that book of Mormon is true. They might call it, you know, something. In the old days, we would call this a burning in the bosom, but really everyone’s got a slightly different version. It’s almost hard to articulate for a lot of my Mormon family exactly what that experience was.
Jim Wallace: 23:30 But here’s my point. It turns out that every religious believer of any kind is going to have those two answers. One, I was raised this way. I was raised as a Buddhist, but at some point I saw that my Buddhist beliefs were confirmed for me in some way. There’s some experience I had or set of experiences I had. So everyone says this, regardless of worldview, and most of us would say, well, they can’t all be true because they make opposing view up claims contradict one another. So, I mean, it’s true for all religious views. Uh, well, can I actually make the same kind of claim? And if we don’t believe that those other views are true, why would we want our answer to sound like theirs. We could actually have a uniquely Christian answer to that question, which could sound something like, well, I looked at the evidence for this, the evidence for the resurrection, the evidence for the claims of the Bible and the first century regarded to Jesus, and I determined that that was the most reasonable inference from evidence that this stuff actually happened. And that’s why I’m a Christian because I believe this stuff actually happened. And that’s what’s unique about Christianity anyway, right? Because if you read the writings of Buddha, you’re not gonna see him making claims about history. The authors of the gospels make claims about an historic events that occurred in the first century so they could be tested, it could be vetted, and we ought to be able to do as Christians.
Jake Enriquez: 24:49 Sure. Well, I mean, I do know that it, you know, I did read or actually I saw on interview and believe that you said you worked hard to resist the spirit of God until finally, you know, you just, you just gave in and you were all in. As a matter of fact, did you work hard just to prove it to be untrue? Did you work hard to want it to be untrue? What was it that had you resisting the spirit of God?
Jim Wallace: 25:11 Well, I think what it was is that I was, well…pride, it’s always pride. It’s always some form of pride that keeps us away from truth claims and of course the different categories of that pride. But for me it said it was a committed philosophical naturalist. I did not believe in anything supernatural. I did not believe I needed to go to supernatural causes or explanations when naturalistic explanations would be sufficient. So, uh, I would have said at least initially, OK, some stuff happened in the first entry regarding Jesus, but I don’t believe any of the supernatural elements of the gospels. I would’ve rejected those. Now, so when I say the spirit of God, I mean look, in the end we have to kind of assess how is it that we reconcile the free agency of human beings with the overarching, a supernatural transcendent power of an all-powerful God?
Jim Wallace: 26:02 Do we think that it forced this debate goes rages within Christianity from one extreme to the other. You know, you know, you have a Calvinist position on this or you have an Armenian position on this. I get it. For me, how I’ve tried to reconcile this in my own experience was, and I use this analogy all the time, you know, my son, when he was growing up with never eat a mushroom pizza, there’s no way you could get him to eat a mushroom pizza if you’d walked into a pizzeria. You can make a case for mushroom pizza. He’s still say no. But if somehow I could change his hatred, I could remove his hatred of mushrooms. That’s what it was. He hated mushrooms. I’ll bet you I could then make a case for mushroom pizzas and he might try it. Uh, he would, uh, make a free choice to, to order the mushroom pizza.
Jim Wallace: 26:45 Once his nature had been changed, once his enmity, hatred of mushrooms have been removed. So I do think we still make free choices. I believe we still have free agency, but I do think that the God without God doing something with the nature of it, I would never have even considered the, the pursuit, the evidential pursuit, worth my time. That switch was flipped by God. And I think that’s, that’s where, that’s the level at which God works and that, that at least in some sense, preserves a measure of freedom on the part of all of us that we can then use to make decisions.
Jake Enriquez: 27:17 Absolutely. I think that, uh, when I, when I listened to that and I listened to what people want is, they want facts, they want truth, they want, did it really happen type of thing. And you know, what it makes me think about honestly, when I know I’m not an apologist, a Jim, but here’s the thing. It makes me think about when somebody asked me that one time, I said, you know, 9:11 occurred here in our generation. We all experienced that. But maybe a hundred years from now, someone’s going to say that didn’t really happen, so people didn’t really jump out of a building, screaming for their lives and that couldn’t have, you know, somebody could possibly say that. But those who were here and experienced it certainly experience it, gave eye witness testimony to those things. And of course, the history writes itself after that.
Jake Enriquez: 28:01 The same thing that happened when people saw Jesus ascend into heaven. The same thing, you know, and you think about eye witness and account and testimony – that’s powerful. I mean, you know that in a court of law. So, uh, what I’m thinking about today though. There are so many things that I would really love to spend time with you in and discuss. I know we don’t have all that time, but I wanted to touch on these few things. OK? You discuss this in your recent book, Forensic Faith. And that was the danger that our youth face going into college. And, uh, I want you to talk about that a little bit because as we go into college, if you’re not properly, if you’re not really set and ready to go and give a reason for the hope that’s founded you met, you’re going to go up against some people that are Mr and Mrs. highly educated and they’re going to really, really bring it. So what do you think about the danger that our youth faces in college going into college?
Jim Wallace: 28:57 I used to know from my position changed even more nuanced on this, that it has been years past. You know, I think that that God’s Not Dead series is kind of a trafficked on the idea that if we had better be ready to make a case for this, once you get to college because you’re going to find people like that philosophy professor in the first movie should challenge your faith. And I’m sure that does happen. But I think that happens in the vast. I mean, I just always knew that that wasn’t happening all that much, but it does happen. What started all of this was we were doing polls in which we were asking [inaudible] kids, you know, early twenties, uh, are you still a believer? And they would say, well, I was raised this way, but I’m no longer a believer and we would get these terrible numbers of young people who are no longer believers by the time they were 21, 22 years old.
Jim Wallace: 29:38 And we were thinking ‘my gosh!’, of course we’re interviewing, these are, most of these kids were going to college. So we’re thinking this is terrible what’s happening to these kids in college. So the first couple of years of this, maybe five or six years of this, we’re just about the raw numbers, how many are no longer believers? Then we spent another five years kind of trying to figure out, well, why are you not believers in. Most of them would say that some form of intellectual discontent, some form of skepticism, intellectual skepticism, you know, where they’re sure they don’t believe we have good answers to these questions and they’ve asked a lot of people that don’t need to be able to give them any answers. So we have some data on that. Well, in the last five years now we’ve been looking at maybe three to five years we’ve been looking at or what, how old were you when you really thought this is no longer true and know of course the expectations in the first couple of years of polling, we would’ve said it’s happening in college, but it turns out that that, that age has dropped dramatically and the Internet is probably responsible for that.
Jim Wallace: 30:33 But, the age of people walking away is between 10 and 17. So we cannot say anymore that really this is, there’s a kind of a danger that’s out there now. Colleges are the, you know, really a vast number of colleges are going to be secular in their worldview and they’re more than happy to embrace the kid who walked away from his faith in the last two or three years. And they’ll, they will affirm that secular worldview. They’ll, they’ll, they’ll reinitiate a set of moral codes that are consistent with that, that worldview. But they didn’t have to do the hard work, you know, just from the number of freshmen who come in now and report that they are believers. That’s dropped dramatically. So it’s, it’s an issue now. That’s some good news and bad news. The bad news is it starts earlier, right?
Jim Wallace: 31:15 Used to be, I think if you weren’t a Christian by the age of 18, the percentage chance of you ever becoming a Christian was pretty low and now it’s like if you weren’t a Christian by the age of 12. That has dropped. So we have to figure out what to do about it. The good news is is that it’s not happening while your son is across the country, your daughter’s across the country and university where you have no impact. It turns out it’s happening while your kids’ in junior high where you have a great deal of impact if you choose to have it. [Absolutely] So when it comes down to is, is that if my kids cannot find good answers, well it’s not going to be because I am not a good source of answers. I want to be a good source of answers.
Jim Wallace: 31:54 So. So if I’m just another person they can lump into their description of lame Christians who couldn’t give an answer for the questions they have, then that’s shame on me as their parent. So. So I think that, you know, I’ve got, I’ve, I’ve spent the first couple of years doing this work. I spend a lot of time on college campuses and I have friends who do this. They’re on a college campus every weekend – that still needs to be done. But I think I spend more time now in congregations where people are there with their kids to say, hey, it doesn’t start out there. It starts right here. And we had better start making a difference in the lives of young people. And really, I mean, you’re going to talk about a lot of things on Sunday and the vast majority of your time with an audience, a Christian audience, if you’re a Christian leader right now, it’s probably going to occur during your Sunday service.
Jim Wallace: 32:44 You know, that that Sunday night services probably not as well attended, if it’s a discipleship kind of service or a Wednesday or if you have small groups, but wherever it is, you have the largest amount of time to speak to your congregation. I think we had better be making a case for why this is true. We have better the answering the objections of the secular worldview. We have better be raising up a, a team of really well discipled, equipped, reasonably equipped Christians. And we really can’t say it’s going to happen somewhere else. Buy Jim Wallace’s book. You might, but it needs to happen a lot earlier than that. And we can’t, you can’t buy my books to give to your kids. You need to buy my books, learn it, and live it that way in front of your kids. And then they will copy you and they will follow you.
Jake Enriquez: 33:31 Well, that brings up my next question is, you know, um, something else that I read was ‘stop teaching and start training’. [That’s right] Kind of elaborate on that right there if you would.
Jim Wallace: 33:40 Yeah. And that’s it. So I try to be provocative when I say it because I’m trying to grab people’s attention on that. Yeah. We need to stop teaching because teaching doesn’t work. I mean clearly it doesn’t work and it hasn’t worked in all these great teachers in the church. Great teachers on Sunday, great teachers in Sunday school and yet we have this huge attrition rate and it’s because we’re not training, we’re just teaching and teaching. If you look, thinking about the old Charlie Brown cartoons, I was old enough to remember that teacher [inaudible] classroom was going, want, want, want, want, and Charlie Brown was not hearing it, you know it or not, not paying attention to her. It sounds like there’s so much noise and that’s what this teaching sometimes can sound like because it doesn’t seem like it’s gotten any purpose.
Jim Wallace: 34:18 Why is it relevant? Well, that’s really the distinction between teaching and training. So boxers and fighters. A train MMA fighters train versus responders trained and the reason why we do that because we have a time in which we’re going to be tested physically. It could be tonight on the shift. We work tonight, a boxers for sure. It’s going to be the day of the fight and if you don’t train leading up to that fight, you’re going to get hurt though. What turns teaching into training is just the calendared fight. That time you step in the ring, it’s on the calendar. You can’t change it. As it gets closer, you’re going to get more intense in your training because you know that that calendar is inflexible. It’s coming. Now. What we don’t do with our young people are dealing with our churches for the most part is put into practice, right?
Jim Wallace: 35:00 We don’t have a calendared event that would teach this stuff. We would transform the stuff we’re doing on Sunday from teaching to training. Um, instead we just kind of say, hey, you know, if you are teaching, you know all this, but when are we going to put it in practice? I mean absolutely. We would typically start with a test and show them why they aren’t any good at what, you know, why they need to get better, and then after we test them and show them the problem, then they’re usually engaged, but right away we say, OK, now we’re going to go in eight weeks and do this and we’re going to spend the next eight weeks getting ready to go do that. Now. What is the ‘that’? It can be something modest. It could be something more involved. I’ve taken students on six and seven day trips to Salt Lake City where they’re going to use street evangelism with Mormons.
Jim Wallace: 35:40 That’s a great way to learn a Christian theology because you’re going to have to know your theology really well. Encounter people who have slightly adjusted it, you know, for their own theological purposes. It would take six and 70 trips to the University of California at Berkeley, which is one of our more hostile universities here in California to the Christian world view and we’re going to put them into the field and they’re going to be engaging atheist. So. So these give us opportunities because they’re on the calendar every year, both trips. He’s gave us the opportunities to spend eight weeks plus times two. So we have 16 weeks of training that are very specific, getting ready, we’ve taken Islam trips to local mosques, we’ve taken, you know, social justice kinds of trips in the inner city, in each of these requires you to, to, to learn about a different aspect of the gospel at different aspect of, of Christian discipleship and, and, and, uh, you know, maturity and then you’re going to put those into play.
Jim Wallace: 36:34 But it turns out that it changed me as a youth pastor and as a lead pastor, it turned me from just somebody who was teaching from the pulpit to somebody who was really about arranging the five to six to seven missions trips of one nature or another that would turn my Sunday preaching into training. So I really was about developing this kind of a annual calendar that would motivate my congregation to do something. And that’s what it comes down to is just do something. Not to show up here to attend. I mean, once we get done here, we have got to go do something and that makes all the difference in the world.
Jake Enriquez: 37:09 So those who don’t train don’t plan on being deployed, you said in the book.
Jim Wallace: 37:14 That’s right. Yeah. If I can handle every call for service in the police department, from the dispatch room and just do it all over the phone. Would we ever train? No, we’d all be eating donuts all the time and we’d be probably 60 pounds overweight, but because we know we’re going to have to deploy at some point. Well now suddenly we take better care of ourselves and we’re constantly training and so the problem is the church is not…doesn’t think it’s ever going to deploy and if you don’t deploy it, there’s no point in training.
Jake Enriquez: 37:40 And for the listeners, I just want to, I want to bring it down just a little bit. In other words, I want…Jim, let’s see if you can just help us with something here. Um, what you’re talking about, the training and the application and going out there and doing something. What are some things that our listeners could do just to test their own knowledge and understanding just like three things that we could go do? Maybe just start working on – what would it be?
Jim Wallace: 38:03 Well, I think what you can do now, look, there’s lots of ways to…we actually designed a, a test that we have posted for free at forensic faith book dot com, but what we’re trying to do here is these are the, like the seven biggest objections to Christianity. We will give you three minutes to answer each one, which I think is reasonable because you’re not going to get three minutes with somebody in conversation. So if you can’t do it in three minutes, you probably aren’t going to be able to do it in front of somebody in a conversation. So this task takes 21 minutes and if you can, if you feel like at the end of it, you know I’m not going to be grading your test, but you could grade your own test and you can ascertain for yourself if that was a skeptic I was talking to, even my own kids, would they be happy with the answer I just gave them? So that’ll help you to see where you need to go. Then you can work on those specific. And I think actually if you were to master those seven responses, you would probably have conversation material for your kids for years.
Jake Enriquez: 38:58 Yes. Because by the way, guys, the, the test that you could find it where Jim?
Jim Wallace: 39:04 forensic faith book dot com because that book’s called Forensic Faith. So forensic faith book dot com.
Jake Enriquez: 39:10 OK. And we’ll put that in the, in the show notes. But here’s the thing, if you were to go in there and do this test, it would bring an awareness to where you’re really at and where you, where you stand and what some of the things that we have an understanding in. And it also helps us to go and want to dig deeper, right?
Jim Wallace: 39:29 Simple, right? But it’s so important. Um, uh, it, we, we test trainees in law enforcement all the time, you know, we’ll put them in the field training unit. So there’s an fto, a field training officer along with them. And then every crazy call that occurs that night, this poor kid, the trainee is going to get dispatched out to, uh, to take the call. You know, if it’s a bar fight, if it’s whatever it is. I mean, we know that these kids who come on our agency, they aren’t, they aren’t really ready yet. So we dispatch them on all the tough calls and then, that’s a test and sometimes they do well and sometimes they don’t. And if they don’t do very well, they’re like ready to, to, to fix that problem. If you don’t get that test to see how, how poorly you are in a certain area, I think it all starts with the test and that’s.
Jim Wallace: 40:14 And that’s not just to kind of demonstrate that we know something that you don’t know. The idea with trainees is to say, OK, now I’ve got something I can, I can evaluate. I’m going to tell you what you did wrong. You see how you messed that up? Yes. Now, now we’re going to take another call like this and two or three nights. And then you have a second chance to improve. And so again, it starts though with tests and the same is true with our young people. If we don’t test them, I sometimes will even begin so by, by role-playing. And it used to be that I would have them introduced me as somebody who’s not Jim Wallace, you know, introduce me as an atheist professor from down the street. But now I realized that, for the last couple of years I haven’t even been by. I just walk in, I, you know who I am, and I say, OK, I’m going to take off my jacket when I take off my jacket I’m the atheist professor, I’m going to start to question you.
Jim Wallace: 41:00 And boy! I cannot tell you, now this is sad, but I could probably count the churches in America that are equipping their young people to be able to answer and stand tall during these kinds of sessions on one hand. one hand, I was going to say that’s how bad it is. And so you’ll see silence or worse yet, you’ll see that they’re angry that you’re, you’re, you’re not, they’re not able to answer the question and they start to lose their character really fast. At picking on him? Yeah, cause they feel like you’re, you’re, you know, and I’m more aggressive because I’m just, I revert back to the Jim Wallace that I was at 35. Where I was that guy who was like ‘really?’ I mean it just is so real to me it seemed so ridiculous out of hand stupid that I just didn’t have patience for people. Sure enough, when I would push back, they would act like they had no way to answer my question, which to me, just further demonstrated how stupid the whole thing was.
Jim Wallace: 41:45 So I just think that don’t be surprised that your kids are already getting that online if they haven’t or they can certainly find website. You know, on almost any claim of Christianity, just Google it. You will find on the first five pages of results that the Christian support, the Christian defense of the claim is outnumbered by the atheist, um, objections to the claim like, three to one, at least. So it’s not like if you had this claim that you thought, well, I’m going to find lots of stuff online that will help me. Now you’re going to find some stuff online that will help. But you’re going to find three times as much stuff. That’s people who are. And by the way, your kids are finding that. So if they wonder if there’ll be a, you know, how do I reconcile this issue about creation or how do I reconcile a talking snake and a talking donkey? I mean, how do I reconcile, if they were to Google and hope to find some Christians site that’s going to help them, they’re going to have to sift through the first hundred sites that are all atheists mocking them. So at some point, if they land on those sites first, don’t be surprised that they’re going to walk away from their faith before they get to college.
Jake Enriquez: 42:49 Golly. I tell you what job you have so much to offer us and you know, just by your website that I was looking at it, but the three books I guess that go together, and I know there’s Forensic Faith, that’s the last one. What was the first part of that?
Jim Wallace: 43:03 So, so what I did was I wrote a trilogy of books, Cold Case Christianity is the case for Christianity. God’s Crime Scene is the case for theism, for God’s existence from evidence of creation in the universe, and the third book is forensic faith, which is really, as I wrote the first two books and was traveling around the country. I realized that most churches before you could make the case for Christianity or kind of scratching their head like, why do I need to make the case for Christianity? Yeah. Sadly I needed a book that would make the case for making the case and that’s what Forensic Faith is.
Jake Enriquez: 43:35 OK, no problem. So, Jim, what’s the best way for our listeners to reach out to you?
Jim Wallace: 43:41 Website that has probably the best combination of resources is cold case Christianity. It’s pretty simple to remember cold case Christianity. What’s good about that I hope is that we, I, you know, as an atheist, I was suspicious of Christians who were selling stuff and I hate to say that and here I am. Now God’s got a sense of humor. Uh, years later I’m a Christian selling stuff, so I try to do it. Cold case Christianity is, this provides you with endless. So hopefully it feels like endless supplies of free materials that are entirely downloadable as pdf files, as video you can download. The idea here is, hey, what matters more than anything else is solving this problem and, and that, so you don’t have to buy the books to do that. I want to have, you know, five days a week. It’s a new piece of content every day, Monday through Friday. And the idea is just to help you take little steps and, you know, quick quick reads and if you do this every day, hopefully you’ll be a better Christian case maker at the end of it.
Jake Enriquez: 43:41 OK. You can be found on Facebook and Twitter, right?
Jim Wallace: 43:41 Oh yeah. I mean all of the social…as a matter of fact, that’s how you and I got connected was on Twitter. So yeah, there I try to, I try to be like a, you know, like a survey of all the best Christian upon most of the stuff I tweet is not mine. It’s the other apologists that are writing stuff that I think is important. So I try to give you…that’s just ‘J Warner Wallace’ on Twitter.
Jake Enriquez: 45:10 OK, now, uh, that’s how the listeners would reach out to you. So let, let me ask you this. Um, let me. Well first I wanted to say thank you for all that you are doing for the body of Christ. It is very important and as we look, I think about our own kiddos. I really do. I think about my youngsters. And you also have something there, I believe, it’s for kids, right?
Jim Wallace: 45:22 Yeah. As a matter of fact, all three of these books now we have kids’ versions. Forensic Faith for Kids comes out, I think in September. So what we’ve done is we’ve tried to do something a little bit different, you know, like my friend Lee Strobel has done some books like this to, of course, and he’s like a master, right? A guru master of all Christian apologetics these days and, but our kids books are a little different in that they are fiction in which a group of cadets is learning how to be detectives and they’re solving mysteries. And along the way they’re learning the skill set they need to be able to make the case for Christianity and for God’s existence.
Jim Wallace: 45:52 So what we hope to do is to engage them in this mystery that they get to solve and then they are learning this skill set on the side and then we have an online academy called case makers academy dot com, where we say, Hey, if you’ll do all of these chapters and read through the ministry and solve the mystery and also learn how to make the case for Christianity and for God’s existence, you can earn a certificate like you do in the academy. And so that’s all available for free. It’s all downloadable with all the, the videos for each chapter and all of that. And that’s that case makers academy dot com.
Jake Enriquez: 46:31 Case Makers Academy dot com. OK. Man, that’s awesome. We greatly appreciate that, man. No, but we love you and we thank you for all that you do. So let me ask you this as a closing word. OK? Yeah, I would, I would try to make it as brief as possible.
Jim Wallace: 46:40 What would you say to a skeptic that may be listening today and he’s maybe on the fence, maybe he has. OK. Maybe he or she has put away their disbelief and they put it on the shelf for a minute and they’re just wanting to weigh things in. What would you say to them?
Jim Wallace: 46:57 Yeah, I think that is the key. Um, and, and what you just said is, are you able to suspend whatever pre, whatever bias you came to this with, because we all come to it with a bias. Not that biases are necessarily bad. They can be very helpful and I certainly have an opinion like others, but when I get a jury in place, the first thing we’ll say is, look, wherever your bias may be, are you going to be able to suspend your bias long enough to be fair? And because we know that everyone’s got some there, they’re going to be somewhere on a spectrum from one side to the other and we know that’s just the case.
Jim Wallace: 47:32 But I had asked myself this question, did I think there was enough evidence to demonstrate that this was true? Or was it a matter of me not wanting there to be enough evidence to demonstrate that this is true? And because these are two different things, and, and, uh, it’s quite possible that you could have a bias that so strongly against something that you wouldn’t be fair. Uh, and that’s what you have to suspect first. And I really think that that is the stuff that we can be praying for our friends and family because I’m not, I really think that that’s part of the mystery of God’s sovereignty is that, that we could say, oh, you know, what are we really think happens in order to get rid of that kind of bias? Do we think we have the ability? Maybe we do have some power in doing that.
Jim Wallace: 48:17 But I think a lot of that is just what God does in our hearts is that God actually helps us to eliminate, to, to set down our bias. So, so what I say to people all the time, don’t be frustrated when your family members who don’t seem like they’re receptive to this, they don’t seem like they are interested in this. When they push back on it. That’s the thing that we can do. We can affect by way of prayer. And we ought to be praying for our family because in the end, if God is not removed that hostility, if people cannot be fair, then no amount of evidence I could ever show you is going to be compelling for you.
Jake Enriquez: 48:48 Yeah, I’m glad you said that because like you said, don’t get frustrated, you know, with your family members. And I can imagine somebody listening today can say you know what Jim, that’s easy for you to say, you know all these things and you’ve done all this study, so I’m sure everybody around you now is a believer, but is your dad a believer now, Jim?
Jim Wallace: 49:07 No, no, as a matter of fact, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. My Dad is still the most committed non-believer I know. The one I care about the most in persuading would be my dad and I haven’t had the ability to do that with him. And that’s, that doesn’t mean…I’m always, even with my own kids, if you’ve got kids, I’ll bet you there are some spectrum, um, along the way of, of, of, of faith, of belief, disbelief, or at least how about this? If they’re all believers, I’ll bet you there’s a spectrum of commitment to believe, right? That’s true for all of us, all of us.
Jim Wallace: 49:39 So I think we have to do is just get over it and realize that you aren’t in charge of that and that the best, most persuasive argument you could offer might very well still fall on deaf ears, um, because what’s keeping them out is something other than, than, um, the evidence to begin with. And so you’re not going to fix that problem with evidence if evidence isn’t the problem.
Jake Enriquez: 50:02 That’s right. So, thank you so much. That’s Mr Jim Wallace and again, definitely want to take a look at the show notes and you’ll get connected to Jim. And if you have any questions, I know he’d be, he’d love to answer those questions. Just get involved, interact with him. And you know, I would recommend just any way that you can on Twitter, uh, the website, Facebook. If you have questions, put them on there. As you can tell, our brother Jim is adamant about going forward with this message and helping each and every one of us. Because you know, the fact of the matter remains, we do want to be secure, sound insecure about giving a reason for the hope that is in us. Thank you so much, Mr Jim Wallace. I greatly appreciate you, man.
Jim Wallace: 50:46 Thanks for having me, brother. I appreciate you.
Jake Enriquez: 50:49 And for the show notes on this episode, simply go to press and reach dot com forward slash six zero.
For Kids: casemakersacademy.com
Take the Test: Forensic Faith Readiness Review