Books Make Me Barf: Cold-Case Christianity

“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. Many of us have done just that. ~J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity

I’ve always been somewhat of a skeptic in that I have a tendency to question things. I’ve said this before, but I guess I’ll say it again. I’m interested in believing true things, not necessarily popular things.  Subjective feelings are not, necessarily, good indicators of truth.  Moreover, emotion is certainly inadequate, in most cases, to allow us to make a compelling case to somebody else for our beliefs. We must learn to responsibly follow and present objective evidence if we’re to compete in the marketplace of ideas. The good news is that we all seem to be predisposed to follow evidence.  We use evidence to make decisions all the time without even thinking about it.  I look out the window every morning and, based on the evidence, decide if I should wear a jacket today or not.  In fact, I may just use circumstantial evidence to conclude it is raining outside when I see one of my kids come inside wet.  Sure it’s possible that they may have just been playing in the sprinkler, but if it is winter time and they’re fully clothed, I can infer the most reasonable conclusion is that the weather is inclement.  Evidence is important for forming our beliefs about reality.  We should all be skeptics to some degree, having sound reasons for why we believe what we believe.  Enter J. Warner Wallace.

J. (Jim) Warner Wallace is a vocal atheist turned vocal Christian apologist.  Having worked in law enforcement for many years, Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective in the Los Angeles County area. You may have seen his work featured on Dateline. In his recently released book “Cold-Case Christianity“, he tackles the case of the historicity of the life of Jesus using the techniques of his trade, applying the same principles he uses to solve cold-case homicides where witnesses are gone, physical evidence is slight, and it is solid circumstantial cases that bring the truth to light.  Detective Wallace takes you through his own journey from atheist to follower of Jesus of Nazareth via careful evaluation of the historical evidence, training you to think critically about things like evaluating witnesses, conspiracy theory, and the chain of custody in evidence gathering.

With this book J. Warner Wallace makes a significant contribution to the defense of the reasonableness of the Christian faith.  In recent years the vocal “new atheist” movement has been aggressively attacking religion, and specifically Christianity, with a newfound hostility, often claiming that the enterprise of reason stands solely with their position.  Tearing down strongholds and demolishing arguments against the knowledge of God, Cold-Case Christianity makes it abundantly clear that a belief in the Biblical text is not only reasonable, but even more reasonable than any of the other ancient documents which we accept at face value in our pursuit of knowledge about the past.  When evaluated objectively, as any good jury member with an open mind ought to, the historical case for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is successfully prosecuted by J. Warner Wallace.  It is only if one comes to the case with the pre-existing conclusion that supernatural events can’t happen that the case can be dismissed.

Undoubtedly, the charge against Wallace from some Christians will be that he takes the “faith” out of faith (by the way, fideism makes me barf).  They’ll likely say that this evidential approach to Biblical investigation puts God on trial.  I’d ask these naysayers to refer to their Bibles in places like 1 Peter 3:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 2 Corinthians 10:5, and Jude 1:3 (among others).  The Biblical authors were clear that reasoning with people and defending faith in Christ was a virtue, not a vice.  J. Warner Wallace has taken these mandates seriously, carefully arranging a book that is useful to both Christians and non-Christians alike in their pursuit of understanding.

Not only does Wallace build a successful case for the reliability of the eyewitness gospel accounts, but he does it in a way that is appealing to any fan of the whodunit genre of books, movies, and television shows.  Weaved into J. Warner Wallace’s investigation of the biblical accounts, are real world examples from his cold-cases that are used to reinforce the subject matter of each chapter.  Cold-Case Christianity is one of the most accessible apologetics books I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  This is a book anybody can, and should, pick up and read not only to educate themselves, but for the pure enjoyment of it as well.  Kudos to J. Warner Wallace who has put together a book that is both educational and fun!  Thorough, winsome, and entertaining, this is the first book that should be recommended to any skeptic who levels a charge against the reliability of the gospel accounts or the historical figures that penned them.

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9 thoughts on “Books Make Me Barf: Cold-Case Christianity

  1. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been listening to some of J’s Podcasts, and I’m a fan of his work. I look forward to reading this book, and I appreciate you taking time to review it for us.

  2. Great insight there!

    Warner Wallace’s book is really an resource for skeptics. I honestly hope that I read this book when I was still searching for the truth. Sometimes, evidence really matters before anyone can make their own decisions. BTW, I started following your blog and I would like to recommend The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel in case you haven’t read or heard of this book. I also know other books, perhaps you can check out http://booksforevangelism.org/category/resources/skeptics/ for more! 🙂

  3. The Gospels are not “Eyewitness Accounts”..having been written decades after the life of Jesus, according to a strand of Biblical scholarship which includes many accomplished and credible authors.

    • So in your estimation, if I wrote right now about an incident from 1985 that I witnessed, the decades that have since passed would automatically invalidate the me as an eyewitness?

      • Your point would have some teeth to it, IF we knew for sure that the gospel writers really were the ones walking and talking with Jesus as he trod the earth. But we don’t know that. Tradition is a poor indicator. The bible says so is circular reasoning. So your point fails.

      • So in your estimation we should doubt accounts of Socrates’ life and teachings from his contemporaries, like Plato? How about Alexander the Great? There are plenty of historical figures we have to assume are fiction if we can’t utilize the writings of their contemporaries as justification for knowing about them. Knowing anything at all “for sure” is a complicated philosophical problem, and certainly not the requirement of historians for establishing knowledge about historical figures. Also, keep in mind the Bible is a compilation of different writings by different authors, not a book by a single author or some sort of collaboration, so one writer affirming events of another isn’t circular, it is independent (except perhaps where one particular book can be shown to be the source of another). Additionally, as J. Warner Wallace points out in this book, there are numerous extra-biblical accounts of Jesus (eg Josephus, Tacitus, etc).

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