Monday, January 21, 2013

A Case for the Truth (a book review)

As a fan of television shows such as Bones, Cold Case and CSI I was quickly drawn in by the title of J. Warner Wallace’s new book "Cold-Case Christianity" and was certainly not disappointed.   Years from now, I expect this book to be referred to with the likes of Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands A Verdict”, Francis Shaeffer’s ”The God who is There” or C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”.

Wallace’s journey parallels Lewis’s in that he was once an avowed atheist arguing against the existence of the God they both would come to believe in and defend.  What makes Wallace’s perspective unique is his profession as detective, investigating cold cases and his experience in the courtroom.

Early in the book Wallace writes “even before examining the Gospels with the rigor we are going to apply…I recognized that they were consistent with what I would expect to see, given my experience as a detective.”  Wallace uses his investigative and courtroom experiences as examples and analogies in his arguments in defense of the authenticity of the Bible.  He counters opposing claims to biblical errors by citing historical (non-Christian) writers of the day, archeological finds and addresses the courtroom parallel of chain of custody and circumstantial evidence as convincing perspective.

About the claim from skeptics that the Gospels were written after the life of Christ as part of a conspiracy,  Wallace says the best way to counter this is to retrace the chain of custody to look for a mishandling of the evidence from point of ‘crime scene’ to first appearance in the ‘courtroom’.  After much meticulous detail, he could find none. 

Wallace contends that just as a defendant should be considered innocent until proven guilty, skeptics get it wrong when they claim that the burden for the proof of the Christian worldview belongs to Christians, adding that naturalism is the default position that need not be proved.   Wallace believes that if a declaration is being made which cannot be supported by evidence, it is only an attempt to destroy or distract, which if those same tactics used to try to disqualify the Gospels were used on other writings they would also disqualify non-biblical historical texts. 

After a fascinating read, Wallace’s passion which led him to write the book is clear.  His hope is that his skeptical friends would lay aside presuppositions long enough to consider the possibility of a substantive circumstantial case supporting the reliability of the gospel writers.  He also hopes that Christians will be more ready and able to make “a case for the truth.”  ...and that, I am.