Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

The divinity of Jesus according to the early church

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

Earlier, I wrote a post about the evidence for the divinity of Jesus in the earliest New Testament documents. And now I’ve found a wonderful follow-up to that post from J. Warner Wallace, author of “Cold-Case Christianity“, the book I am currently reading. I am on chapter 14.

He lists quotations from all of these early church fathers about the divinity of Jesus:

  • Barnabas, companion of Paul (c. 70-130AD)
  • Ignatius, Bishop of the Church at Antioch (c. 110AD)
  • Clement of Rome, Bishop of the Church at Rome (c. 120AD)
  • Irenaeus, Bishop of the Church at Lyons, Modern Day France (c. 180AD)
  • Clement of Alexandria, Renowned Christian Teacher in Egypt (c. 195AD)
  • Hippolytus, Leading Presbyter at the Church in Rome (c. 205AD)
  • Tertullian, Passionate Christian Apologist in Carthage, North Africa (c. 207AD)
  • Origen, Famous Pupil of Clement of Alexandria (c. 225AD)

This post is actually very similar to material in chapter 13 of Wallace’s book. Have you read it yet?

One of the most thorough reviews that I’ve seen of the book was on Luke Nix’s blog, in case you want to take a closer look.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A quote from Cold Case Christianity, by J. Warner Wallace

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

Here it is, from page 51:

As I speak around the country, I often encounter devoted, committed Christians who are hesitant to embrace an evidential faith. In many Christian circles, faith that requires evidential support is seen as weak and inferior. For many, blind faith (a faith that simply trusts without question) is the truest, most sincere, and most valuable form of faith that we can offer God. Yet Jesus seemed to have a high regard for evidence. In John 14:11, He told those watching Him to examine “the evidence of miracles” (NIV) if they did not believe what He said about His identity. Even after the resurrection, Jesus stayed with His disciples for an additional forty days and provided them with “many convincing proofs” that He was resurrected and was who He claimed to be (Acts 1:2-3 NIV). Jesus understood the role and value of evidence and the importance of developing an evidential faith. It’s time for all of us, as Christians, to develop a similarly reasonable faith”.

So far, the book is written in a very engaging tone with lots of detective stories and crime scenes. He focused so far on 1) the role of presuppositions, especially naturalism, 2) the abductive method of reasoning, 3) the minimal facts (he chose death, empty tomb, appearances, transformed lives/resurrection proclamation), and 4) a list of naturalistic scenarios and what is wrong with them.

One concern I have so far is that he quoted Matthew 27 (the guard at the tomb) to support the empty tomb. That is one of the least defensible parts of the New Testament. You cannot just use that to refute a naturalistic theory without qualifying it. It worries me that he used that passage without qualifying it. But his general approach is a minimal facts approach, so that’s good and defensible.

Oh, don’t panic all of you, I am an inerrantist. But you can’t argue like that with non-Christians.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , ,

Truthbomb Apologetics reviews “Cold Case Christianity”

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

Here’s a book review by Chad of the best apologetics book of the year so far.

Excerpt:

This reviewer was also very impressed with Wallace’s ability to explain what could be considered difficult topics to some in very plain language that virtually anyone can understand.  As someone who teaches apologetics, I know that many believers are sometimes intimated by the terms used in many of the typical arguments; however, not only does Wallace explain concepts such as abductive reasoning, circumstantial evidence and the nature of truth in easy-to-understand language, he further demonstrates to the reader that they already do this kind of thinking without even realizing it!  The brilliance of this is that the reader realizes that they don’t have to learn a completely new way of thinking to evaluate the Christian worldview, but just apply what they already know to it’s claims.

[...]After learning the chief principles of investigation, Wallace turns the readers attention to the claims of the NT.  This reader was very impressed with the breadth and depth of difficult matters that the author was able to convincing deal with.  Readers who master Wallace’s work will be equipped to:

  • Defend the conviction that the gospels were written fairly early to the events they record
  • Deal with common objections to the gospel accounts
  • Learn how to deal with “late additions” to the NT text
  • Share Non-Christian sources for Jesus
  • Share examples of how archaeology continues to validate the claims of the NT
  • Demonstrate that there are good reasons to believe that the NT was handed down accurately and is trustworthy
  • Demonstrate that the NT Canon was established in the first-century
  • Deal with the objection of bias
[...]It is this reviewer’s conviction that both believer and non-believer will benefit from Wallace’s work.  The believer will find in Wallace an outstanding teacher who is able to take complex concepts and make them exciting and engaging.  Further, they will be more equipped than ever before to defend the gospels, the New Testament, and the Christian worldview with sound thinking and a respectful approach.The unbeliever could quite possibly find a like-minded individual in J. Warner Wallace, himself a former atheist and self-proclaimed, “outspoken skeptic.”  The author fairly represents the opposition’s views, respectfully offers counter arguments and gently challenges the skeptic to reconsider the pre-suppositions they may be hindering their investigation of Christianity.

I already had the book version of this book, and I just bought the unabridged audio book version today! Everyone is talking about this book.

By the way, the author of the book, J. Warner Wallace, will be on the nationally-syndicated Laura Ingraham show tomorrow morning. He tweeted this: “REALLY looking forward to my interview with Laura Ingraham on Monday at 8:30 AM PST. I’m a BIG fan of her work….” Click here to find a station. You might be able to catch a repeat of the third hour here, later, as well.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

Interview with cold case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

J.W. Wartick reviewed the book a while back, and called it “the best introductory apologetics book in regards to the historicity of the Gospels I have ever read“.

Well, here is a new interview with J. Warner Wallace about the new book.

Excerpt:

How is Christianity a “cold case”? When detectives investigate cold cases, they’re investigating events (murders) from the distant past for which there are often no living eyewitnesses and little, if any, direct or forensic evidence to make the case. Detectives learn how to evaluate and employ circumstantial evidence to demonstrate what happened at the scene of the crime. In a similar way, Christianity makes a claim about an event in the distant past for which there are no living eyewitnesses and little, if any, direct or forensic evidence.

What is your background as a detective? I’ve been working murders in Los Angeles County for 15 years and cold cases for the past 12. Many of these cases have drawn national attention and have been featured on FOX News, Court TV and Dateline NBC. Along the way, I came to appreciate the nature of circumstantial evidence and recognized the skills I developed as a cold-case detective would serve me well in my investigation of the claims of the New Testament Gospels.

What are some of the principles of investigation used in Cold-Case Christianity to evaluate the claims of the New Testament? I’ve identified 10 principles of investigation I believe will assist believers and skeptics as they evaluate the Gospel accounts. Cold-Case Christianity will help people to understand the importance of investigative presuppositions, the role of abductive reasoning, the power and nature of circumstantial evidence, the value of word choice in eyewitness statements and much more. The techniques we use as detectives are appropriate and relevant to the study of the claims of Christianity.

What made you change from a self-described “angry atheist” to a passionate defender of the gospel? When I first read through the Gospels, I observed “unintended eyewitness support” from one Gospel account to another. Like eyewitnesses I had interviewed at crime scenes, one Gospel writer would describe an event in a way that raised as many questions as it answered. The parallel testimony of another Gospel writer would then inadvertently answer the questions raised by the first account. This “eyewitness attribute” I observed in the Gospels intrigued me as an investigator. I eventually decided to use the tools of Forensic Statement Analysis to evaluate the Gospel of Mark. My conclusions forced me to take Mark’s account seriously. My journey toward Jesus began with this investigative approach to the Gospels.

This book makes me think of Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ” book. He brought a journalist’s perspective to the historical Jesus. What could be more interesting than a journalist? A cold case homicide detective who has to make cases to juries all the time. Like Strobel, Wallace is coming from a skeptical background, too. So he knows how to talk to skeptics in a way that many Christians who have always been on the inside don’t know. I think it helps that he has an outside-the-ivory-tower career and has to deal with non-Christians and even criminals all the time. He’s rooted in real-life, and knows how to talk about spiritual things in ways that are interesting to ordinary people.

By the way, there is a Kindle edition of it, although I will want a hard copy to lend. I’m pretty sure that this book will be easy to lend to my co-workers – there is just something about detectives that people find interesting. Think of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, for example.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

J.W. Wartick reviews new apologetics book “Cold Case Christianity”

Here’s the book review up at Always Have a Reason.

Here’s his introduction:

I’ll forego the preliminaries here and just say it: this is the best introductory apologetics book in regards to the historicity of the Gospels I have ever read. If you are looking for a book in that area, get it now. If you are not looking for a book in that area, get it anyway because it is that good. Now, on to the details.

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace maps out an investigative journey through Christian history. How did we get the Gospels? Can we trust them? Who was Jesus? Do we know anything about Him? Yet the way that Wallace approaches this question will draw even those who do not care about these topics into the mystery. As a cold-case homicide detective, Wallace approaches these questions with a detective’s eye, utilizing his extensive knowledge of the gathering and evaluation of evidence to investigate Christianity forensically.

And here’s his method in the book – building a cumulative case with circumstantial evidence:

Chapter 3, “Think Circumstantially” is perhaps the central chapter for the whole book. Wallace notes that what is necessary in order to provide evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” is not necessarily “direct evidence.” That is, direct evidence–the type of evidence which can prove something all by itself (i.e. seeing it rain outside as proof for it actually raining)–is often thought of to be the standard for truth. Yet if this were the standard for truth, then we would hardly be able to believe anything. The key is to notice that a number of indirect evidences can add up to make the case. For example, if a suspected murderer is known to have had the victim’s key, spot cleaned pants (suspected blood stains), matches the height and weight a witness saw leaving the scene of the crime, has boots that matched the description, was nervous during the interview and changed his story, has a baseball bat (a bat was the murder weapon) which has also been bleached and is dented, and the like, these can add up to a very compelling case (57ff). Any one of these evidences would not lead one to say they could reasonably conclude the man was the murderer, but added together they provide a case which pushes the case beyond a reasonable doubt–the man was the murderer.

J.W. goes over a bunch of the evidence that composes the bulk of the book, then writes this:

All of these examples are highlighted by real-world stories from Wallace’s work as a detective. These stories highlight the importance of the various features of an investigator’s toolkit that Wallace outlined above. They play out from various viewpoints as well: some show the perspective of a juror, while others are from the detectives stance. Every one of them is used masterfully by Wallace to illustrate how certain principles play out in practice. Not only that, but they are all riveting. Readers–even those who are hostile to Christianity–will be drawn in by these examples. It makes reading the book similar to reading a suspense novel, such that readers will not want to put it down. For example, when looking at distinguishing between possible/reasonable, he uses a lengthy illustration of finding a dead body and eliminating various explanations for the cause of death through observations like “having a knife in the back” as making it much less probable that accidental death is a reasonable explanation, despite being possible.

Regular readers will know that I have featured J. Warner Wallace’s work a lot on this blog, and that’s mostly because I love the way that he has a real day job as a detective. I think that I do get annoyed when Christians talk abotu Christianity in a kind of subjective, inside-baseball way. Detective Wallace doesn’t do that – he talks about these things like he might talk about any other subjective. Not skirting over difficulties, not being credulous, but just being a detective. He’s used to having to convince juries, so he knows how to talk to people in a persuasive way.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , ,

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