Monday, March 17, 2014

Book Review: Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Interesting perspective as we study Christian apologetics
Cons: Could go deeper at times
The Bottom Line:
Logical looking
Historical evidence
For the Christian faith

Looking at the Gospels Like a Detective

While I have studied it in the past, I haven't done much recently with my interest in apologetic, the arguments for why Christianity is true.  My love of mysteries combined with that interest for Cold-Case Christianity, a book I enjoyed despite some minor flaws.

J. Warner Wallace, a former cold-case detective, used to be a skeptic himself.  As he began to be drawn to Christianity, he started looking at it and the Gospels specifically as he would evaluate his work to see if it made sense.  As a result, he became a Christian.  Further study led to this book.

The book can really be divided into two sections.  In the first, he discusses 10 things he's learned over the years as a detective to see if what he is learning is true.  He talks about such things as keeping an open mind (including being open to the possibilities of miracles), testing to see if evidence found is actually part of the case, determining whether eye witnesses are reliable or not, and tracing the evidence.  Heck, he even discusses conspiracy theories and how relevant they are in real life (as apposed to fiction).  Each chapter in this second includes examples from his time as a detective and how these tools apply to Biblical scholarship and other arguments for Christianity.

The second half of the book takes these 10 tools and uses them to examine the Gospels specifically.  He looks at when they were written (are the Gospel writers really eye witnesses?), if there is outside evidence to support it, how certain are we that the Gospels we have today are the ones actually written, and whether the writers had any reason to lie when they were writing.

Overall, this book makes a very compelling case that the events in the Gospels are true.  There is little here that I hadn't heard before, but the way he presents it is new and different.  At times, things can get a bit dry in the second half, but that's never the case for long.  And, honestly, while he is presenting facts, these are important facts.  It's the meat of the book, and the time to pay the closest attention.

At times, the book does seem a bit shallow.  Honestly, I wish he had dug deeper into a few of the things he brings up.  This is especially true in the first half when he often skims the surface of an idea he brings up.  Some of those are fleshed out better in the second half, and I appreciated that.  Others aren't, however.

If you are looking for more information, too, there are cobias notes and references in the back you can use to further examine any of the ideas that are presented.

On the other hand, the author's experiences as a cop lead him to make some points I hadn't really thought about before.  The biggest example comes when he is talking about eye witnesses and how they can often point out something different based on where they were when the crime happened.  It doesn't mean that one or the other witness is lying, it just means that not everyone saw every detail.  I've done that before with some of the stories in the Bible in my mind, but it was nice to have modern examples that show how it still looks.

As the book progresses, the author includes arguments from those who don't believe the Bible and then shows how their arguments don't measure up to the evidence we are seeing.  I appreciate these sections as they showed that the author was thinking through his arguments thoroughly.

The books end with a challenge to move from believing that God exists (which even the demons do) and can save us to believing that Jesus is God sent to save us.  There is a compelling argument to be made that this change to active faith is logical based on the evidence we can see in the world around us.

If you are at all interested in this subject, I challenge you to read Cold-Case Christianity for yourself.  While I wish it dug deeper at times, this book will give you enough evidence to start your search and point you to places you can find more information.

This is the most important decision you will ever make.  Don't pass up this look at whether Christianity has a basis in history or not.

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