Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Practical apologetics: conversations and interviews

Cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace has a new post up at Cold Case Christianity.

Excerpt:

Most of us are familiar with these kinds of interactions. Conversations are two directional; they involve a dialogue between both parties. Most of my professional interactions with anyone begin this way. In the early part of my interaction, I want to build relational bridges with the people I engage.

[…]I began to eat meals with the people I arrested. After taking them into custody, I would often ask them if they were hungry, and if they were, I would order something and make sure I ate with them in the interview room. I recognized that many of God’s most important conversations with humans have been over a meal (the Lord’s Supper is the most powerful example of this). We don’t eat with people we don’t know well, and a simple meal can unite two people in a way that few other settings can achieve. Once my heart was broken for people, I was actually willing to eat with the people I arrested. The conversations we had were powerful, even though they weren’t directed intentionally at the issues we would later cover together. Conversations are benign interactions between two people who share something of themselves with the person they are engaging. Be prepared to open up a bit and share something personal if you expect the other person to do this with you.

At some point, conversations turn toward interviews. In an interview, one person begins to probe more deeply into an area by asking specific questions related to that area of interest. Something is usually mentioned in the initial conversation that triggers a line of questioning. When we begin to probe this aspect of the conversation, we are slipping into interview mode. Interviews are not antagonistic, they are simply inquisitive. My questions are not pointed at this stage of the interaction, they are simply curious and directed. My goal is to establish a baseline from the person with whom I am talking. What do they believe? What did they see? What did they do? What happened next? If I am talking to a witness, I am simply trying to collect data. If I am talking to a suspect, I am trying to establish a preliminary story and baseline that I can then compare to later statements and evidence I have at the scene.

I favor the interview approach. Go in there with a list of questions. Buy them lunch or dinner. Ask the questions. Don’t respond to them or argue with them. Think of how you would respond.Write a blog post. Send them the blog post before you publish it to check it for accuracy. Then publish it so everyone else can see.

By the way, Wallace’s new book on apologetics is now available for pre-order.

Here is the description:

Written by an L. A. County homicide detective and former atheist, Cold Case Christianity examines the claims of the New Testament using the skills and strategies of a hard-to-convince criminal investigator.
Christianity could be defined as a “cold case”: it makes a claim about an event from the distant past for which there is little forensic evidence. In Cold Case Christianity, J. Warner Wallace uses his nationally recognized skills as a homicide detective to look at the evidence and eyewitnesses behind Christian beliefs. Including gripping stories from his career and the visual techniques he developed in the courtroom, Wallace uses illustration to examine the powerful evidence that validates the claims of Christianity.
A unique apologetic that speaks to readers’ intense interest in detective stories, Cold Case Christianity inspires readers to have confidence in Christ as it prepares them to articulate the case for Christianity.

His book is not a general apologetics book with lots of science and philosophy. It is a homicide detective’s look at the historical accounts about the life of Jesus. This might be a good book to pick up if you want to present Christianity from a practical point of view. Everybody likes mysteries and detectives, after all.

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