I recently wrote an article entitled, An Ex-Cop Examines the Evidence: Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? As I had thought about and studied what the New Testament had to say about Jesus’ resurrection, I wondered what it would look like if I treated it like a crime scene. Obviously, there had been a dead body. Three days later, the body had disappeared. How would this scenario look if we treated it like a criminal investigation?
After I had written my article, I came across J. Warner Wallace’s book, Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. This is easily the best book on apologetics that I have read in thirty years. I actually think that Wallace has produced this generation’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict.
As the title suggests, Wallace is a career police officer. He has spent many years as a detective investigating robberies, murders, and ultimately working on cold-case homicides. Cold cases are those investigations that are no longer active. All the leads were exhausted and the case detectives went as far as they could go with the investigation.
Wallace’s job is to reopen these cases and attempt to solve them. In some instances, these files go back twenty or thirty years. Wallace has been able to successfully solve a number of these closed cases and actually make arrests many years after the crime was committed.
An acknowledged atheist, Wallace had no use for God, the Bible, or Christians, whom he considered sub-intellects. A Christian co-worker challenged him, however, to take a look at the New Testament through the eyes of an investigator. Wallace accepted the challenge knowing that he was going to easily debunk the many myths and discrepancies of Christianity.
As Wallace started to read the Gospel accounts of Jesus, though, something else began to happen. Wallace said that the more he read, the more he felt that he was reading eyewitness accounts of the events. As his many years of experience in investigating cold-case murders kicked in, he found that he could not just explain away the Gospels. The writers and the people that they wrote about clearly believed the things that they wrote about and talked about.
Even the minor discrepancies in some of the Gospel accounts rang true with Wallace. As any police officer knows, no two eyewitnesses see the exact same things. There are always minor variations in their stories. The main events will line up but some of the particulars may vary from witness to witness. For Wallace, this only added to the credibility of the Gospels. If the writers had been interested in creating a hoax about Jesus rising from the dead, for example, they would have worked to coordinate their stories so that each account would have been exactly the same.
Wallace eventually became convinced that the New Testament was true, Jesus was who he said he was and had risen from the dead. His new-found faith led to an intensive study of the Bible and a sharpening of his apologetic skills. Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels is a brilliant look at the claims of Christianity through the eyes of a trained investigator. Is the chain-of-evidence solid? Was any of the evidence contaminated? What about the witnesses? How do we know that they are reliable?
This is a very readable, very enjoyable read. Wallace throws in a number of stories from his career as a robbery and murder investigator. You will not be bored reading this book and you will find your investigative skills a lot sharper!
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