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Defending the faith CSI style
By Subby Szterszky
By now, everyone’s familiar with the scene. The ubiquitous yellow-and-black police tape, marking off an area replete with potential evidence of a violent crime. Within its temporary boundaries is scattered a seemingly haphazard assortment of items, both mundane and sinister: a shoe print, a latex glove, a cigarette butt, a bloody scrap of clothing, a bullet casing, a basketball. Next to each item there’s a little yellow marker with a number on it.
No, it’s not the opening act of the latest episode of CSI or NCIS. It was in fact the scene onstage during the final session of this year’s Apologetics Canada Conference, held the weekend of March 1-2 in Abbotsford, B.C.
It wasn’t a real crime scene, naturally, any more than the ones on TV are. Nobody was murdered, no actual crime was committed. But it was a faithful facsimile created by the session’s speaker, a man with real world expertise in such things. Jim Wallace is a Los Angeles homicide detective specializing in cold cases, unsolved murders from years or even decades past. He’s also a Christian apologist who’s written a book titled Cold Case Christianity, has an online ministry called Please Convince Me and contributes to another, Stand to Reason.
So why the fake crime scene? Wallace staged it to demonstrate the powerful role of evidence in defending the Christian faith against attacks by skeptics, particularly those directed at the integrity and authority of Scripture. He showed how criminal investigators gather
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evidence, analyze it in context, and distinguish it from artifacts that also happen to be present at the scene but are irrelevant to the investigation. From this practical analogy, he illustrated how the vast and rich variety of Biblical manuscript evidence makes it relatively simple to separate out the artifacts of later scribal errors and thus reliably reconstruct the original text of Scripture.
Of course, apologetics deals with issues other than the reliability of the Bible. Evidences and arguments for the existence of God; ways to test for truth; responses to hard questions and faulty assumptions prevalent in the culture; these among others were gamely tackled by the various presenters during the course of the conference.
Even so, the question may arise: So what? Is apologetics really a discipline for the average Christian to worry about? Some of the topics it addresses can appear rather abstract and academic. Isn’t it best left to philosophers and theologians to tussle over, if that’s what floats their boat? Besides, the very idea of arguing and debating religion seems to rub against the zeitgeist of tolerance, never mind the Christian virtues of showing grace and kindness.
A proper definition of apologetics will go a long way to dispel such misgivings. In ancient Greco-Roman culture, an apology didn’t mean having to say you were sorry. Instead, it was a persuasive argument or defense presented in support of a belief or position…
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