When detectives investigate cases they take a look at all the evidence in order to find out what happened during the crime. What would happen if a detective took all of his training both in a secular job, and his training in seminary and wrote a book? What would happen is Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates The Claims Of The Gospels by J. Warner Wallace. Mr. Wallace was formerly a devout atheist and detective who worked cold cases and writes with great knowledge about not only the Scriptures and theology, but also about the process of examining legal evidence.
As Mr. Wallace weaves his many years of being a detective with his passion for theology and Apologetics—he gives us a unique and important insight into attacks on the Gospels that will help Christians to not only understand those attacks but defend the Truth of the Word of God.
The book takes a two-pronged approach—one for skeptics and one for Christians. Mr. Wallace wants to help skeptics of the Gospels to “assess the gospel writers in a new light. If you’re someone who has encountered Christians who were unprepared to defend what they believe, I’d like to encourage you to be patient with us because the Christian tradition is actually intellectually robust and satisfying, even if we believers are occasionally unable to respond to your challenges. The answers are available; you don’t have to turn off your brain to be a believer. Yes, it is possible to become a Christian because of the evidence rather than in spite of the evidence” (19). For Christians Mr. Wallace writes to provide “a few tools that can help you defend your faith in a more vigorous and informed way” (19). He wants to encourage Christians to become an “informed Christian, to worship God with your mind and to prepare yourself as a Christian case maker” (19).
The book is organized around ten important principles, Mr. Wallace learned while being a detective. Those principles are to “not be a know-it all” resisting the influence of dangerous presuppositions; learning how to infer: understanding the role of “abductive reasoning”, thinking circumstantially: respecting the nature of circumstantial evidence, test your witness: evaluating the reliability of witness, hang one very word: examining the choice and meaning of language, separate artifacts from evidence determining what’s important evidentially, resisting conspiracy theories: recognizing the rarity of true conspiracies; respect the chain of custody: establishing reliability by tracing the evidence, know when enough is enough: getting comfortable with your conclusions, preparing for attack: distinguishing between possible alternatives and reasonable refutations. Also examined in the book are the questions, “Were the Gospels written early enough to have been authored by true witnesses?”, “Is the testimony of the Gospel writes confirmed by outside sources and evidence?”, “Did the Gospel writes falsely report anything that would invalidate their testimony?”, “Were the Gospel writes motivated to lie about their testimony?”, and finally the book concludes by deciding to believe and defend the Truth.
The approach of the author in this book is not purely evidence-oriented, but rather one that combines a desire to analyze the worldview of why people think the way they do about the Gospels in order to show them the evidence for the Gospels. This is an important point that I think many readers of this book may not at first see, but as I read this book, I paid close attention to how the author used his own testimony and experience as a detective to illustrate his points. As the author uses his testimony, and expertise he helps the reader to understand not only what he is saying, but how serious and important the Gospels are. By using techniques he learned in the courtroom and gripping stories from his career to examine the powerful evidence behind Christianity claims, Wallace integrates worldview and evidential apologetic approaches to Apologetics in his book that will help skeptics to understand the importance of the Gospels, as well as help Christians to defend the Truth of the Gospels in a post-Christian culture.
Cold-Case Christianity appropriately concludes with a challenge for the skeptic and for the Christian. This book is important for three reasons; first Jim combines his expertise as a criminal detective to defending the truth of Christianity, which while unique packs a powerful combination of biblical examination with stories of court-room drama that will draw his readers into the evidence for the Gospels in a fresh and meaningful way. Second, the author doesn’t focus on his testimony and expertise to make himself look good, but rather uses it to point to the Truth about Jesus Christ. Finally, this book will challenge skeptics to consider the claims of Jesus, Himself who is the Way, Truth and the Life. This book will also challenge Christians to not be lethargic about the mission we’ve been called to, but rather be intentional about making much of Jesus and the mission He has given to us in proclaiming the Gospel to the lost. This would be a great book not only for the Bible college or seminary student for for all Christian readers who are interested in understanding how the Gospels are under attack, why the issue is so important, and how to share the Gospel with skeptics and those who question the authority of the Bible. I highly recommend this book, and encourage you to check it out.
Author: J. Warner Wallace
Publisher: David Cook (2012)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the David Cook book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”