Cold-Case Christianity

A number of years ago, Lee Strobel’s Case for Christ made a huge impact on the Christian community and on skeptics.  Why?  It was not because it was answering the hard questions for the first time.  There were many other books available with more detailed and complex answers to the questions that are out there.  But Lee Strobel was able to take the information already available and package it in an engaging format based on his experience as a journalist.

Since that time, there have been many excellent apologetics books, especially on the academic side.  But finally there is another book that is effective in engaging the imagination and drawing the reader in beyond just good information.

J. Warner Wallace’s first book, Cold-Case Christianity, is the apologetics book that we have been waiting for.  Wallace has many years of experience as a cold-case detective.  It was through the skills that he attained in his profession that he came to believe in the truth of Christianity.  Coming from a place of deep skepticism, Wallace needed evidence that was compelling.  In this book, Wallace shares this evidence.

Cold-Case Christianity is filled with the apologetic resources that you would expect.  Wallace presents solid reasons for believing in the truth of Christianity.  He demonstrates that the Gospels are good historical documents that need to be taken seriously.  Wallace is not afraid to confront critics and he interacts effectively with their criticisms.  The reader of this book will be equipped with good information that can be used in responding to skeptical friends.

However, the real value of this book is that Wallace goes beyond teaching us facts, he teaches us how to think.  Wallace takes us into the world of the cold-case detective.  He shares stories from cases that he has worked on, explaining what worked and what did not.  These stories are very interesting and they drew me right into the book.  But more than entertaining stories, Wallace’s experience helps us to know how to deal with evidence and interpret information.  The skills he imparts are helpful for working through biblical data but also equips us how to interact with any claims that we come across.  Each chapter concludes with a specific tool for our “call out bag,” that set of skills that we always need with us to sift through the mix of truth and falsehood that we often encounter.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  After having read many apologetics books, it can be a chore to read another book with the same old presentation.  But this book puts the information together in such a fresh and interesting way, it was a pleasure to read.  I would recommend this book to three groups of people.  This book is good for experienced apologists, who need to be reminded of the real life application of apologetics.  This book is good for Christians who are just getting started in apologetics and who need a resource that is clear and accessible.  However, the group that might benefit the most from this book are the interested skeptics.  Wallace makes the book so interesting that the reader will not feel like they are plodding through a theology book.  The detective stories will hold the attention, while not compromising on the biblical arguments for the truth of Christianity.  I highly recommend this book for all three of these groups.


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2 thoughts on “Cold-Case Christianity”

  1. Stephan J Bedard says “However, the group that might benefit the most from this book are the interested skeptics”

    I, Brett Strong, personally debated J Warner for an hour on the STR live radio show (Nov 11th 2011 STR archive) and a week later on his pleaseconvinceme podcast he admitted that lots of people e-mailed him wondering why/and disappointed why he allowed me to speak so boldly—that there is no circumstantial evidence for the NT Jesus

    …because there is no circumstantial evidence for the NT Jesus (a big fat 0!)

    …J Warner simply makes IMAGINARY circumstantial evidence for the NT Jesus because there is no real (reality based) circumstantial evidence for the NT Jesus

    …now note: there is nothing wrong with making imaginary circumstantial evidence for the NT Jesus …J Warner just needs to be honest that its IMAGINARY and not reality based…

    BRETT STRONG…the internet skeptic that has Christian apologists nervous…exposing their many dogmas as utterly unreliable, false or unfounded in reality…

    FYI: J Warner is a great guy though…I’m sure he’s just mistakenly misleading people with his cold case method concerning anything NT Jesus…very forgivable

  2. The problem I see with these kinds of apologetic attempts, is that even if their historical arguments work, they still don’t necessarily arrive at the theological conclusion at which they aim. Most of them seem to be written in the hope that the reader will adopt something along the lines of conservative Protestant Christianity – I think the most fundamental principles of which, sufficient to derive the others, are the primacy, inspiration and inerrancy of scripture, according to a particular closed canon, to be interpreted in a relatively (but not absolutely) literal way. But even if you convince someone that Jesus physically rose from the dead in a way that cannot be explained by science, you still haven’t proven that those core ideas which motivate the rest of the belief system.

    I’m a theist, but I don’t believe in the inerrancy of the Christian Bible (whichever canon you choose), or those related ideas key about the Bible which are key to conservative/evangelical Protestant Christianity. I have no particular problem with the idea that Jesus might have risen from the dead – God/dess is omnipotent, so he/she can do whatever he/she wants, even raise someone from the dead. But even if you’ve convinced me that Jesus did rise from the dead, you still haven’t convinced me that Christian scripture is inerrant. There are many passages in it which I don’t believe come from God (e.g. the parts about executing homosexuals and witches), and convincing me that Jesus rose from the dead by divine intervention isn’t enough to convince me of the plenary inspiration and inerrancy of your Bible.

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