10 Years of Cold Case Christianity with J Warner Wallace

A Detective’s Journey from Skepticism to Faith

Can the techniques used to solve homicides be the same tools to establish the case for Christianity?

J. Warner Wallace was a seasoned homicide detective and a devout atheist. But everything changed when he turned his investigator’s eye towards the claims of Christianity, applying ten common rules of evidence that he’d used to solve crimes throughout his career.

The result? A transformation from skepticism to faith, and a bestselling book, “Cold-Case Christianity,” which has just released an updated and expanded 10th anniversary edition.

In this latest conversation with Detective Wallace we talk about how he used his skill set as a detective to evaluate the claims of Christianity.

  • We’ll also learn about how we can employ the rules of evidence when evaluating the reliability of the Gospels.
  • We’ll learn the important difference between direct and indirect evidence and how this impacts how we try to present the truthfulness of the Christian faith.
  • We’ll also hear his advice for those who are earnestly seeking to understand whether or not the claims of Christ are true.

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Purchase Cold Case Christianity

Homicide detective J. Warner Wallace applies ten common rules of evidence to make the case for Christianity in this completely updated and expanded edition of the apologetic classic that has changed lives around the world.

Read the Transcript

Clay Kraby: I’m joined once again by J Warner Wallace. He’s an award-winning detective; He’s been featured on Dateline more than any other homicide detective. He’s a popular national speaker, a, host, he’s a writer, including books like Person of Interest, Forensic Faith, God’s, Crime Scene, and Cold Case Christianity, which is just being rereleased in a 10th anniversary edition. He’s an adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University, a senior fellow at Colson Center for Christian Worldview, a faculty member at Summit Ministries, and he and his wife live in Southern California. And maybe of the greatest accolades: You are now a three-time guest on the Reasonable Theology podcast. I’ll see about getting a certificate printed up for your wall back there.

J Warner Wallace: Yeah, please do. I’ll put it right behind me now. Am I the only one who’s been on three times?

Clay Kraby: You are the only three-time guest. You were tied with Sean McDowell as a repeat with a couple of others, and now you’ve taken the lead. So if you need to text him after this and rub it in his face, you go right ahead.

J Warner Wallace: I will. And by the way, they can’t take that away from me because I’ll still be the first.

The 10th Anniversary of Cold Cast Christianity

Clay Kraby: You’ll still be the first one. So that’s good. Well, congratulations on the 10th anniversary edition of Cold Case Christianity. My son just turned twelve, and that makes me feel old. Is it similar for an author when the publisher lets you know you’re coming up on ten years? Was that a bit of ‘where did the time go’ kind of thing?

J Warner Wallace: Yeah, it is. And honestly, I didn’t think we would probably ever have a need to or want to rerelease it. Why would you try to fix it? Right. But I was talking to my friend Greg Kochel, who just redid tactics a couple of years ago, and I thought, that’s a great book. And I thought, well, what was awesome about it is you get to go back. You think, well, if you knew what you knew now, would you have written it a little bit differently? Yeah. And so that gives me a chance to go back and write it the way I really wanted to write it and illustrate it the way I really wanted to illustrate it. But, yeah, you do feel, like, old, especially when you write your first book in your 50s. You already are old before you start. So now it just feels like I’m older.

Clay Kraby: Well, that’s great. And we’ve had a chance to talk a couple of times before. People have no doubt, maybe seen some of your other interviews. I’ve read one of your books. But could you just give a brief background as to how it is that a former homicide detective is writing books about Christianity at this point?

J Warner Wallace: Well, a lot of it just traces my own journey. Right. When I was looking, I kind of thought, everyone who becomes a Christian, don’t we all do this? Don’t we look at the evidence for this and determine if it’s true or not before we just jump in? And that’s not the case for a lot of us as Christians, we have some other thing that we think is evidential. Sometimes it’s an experience. Most of the time, it’s an experience. I didn’t have any Christians in my life growing up. Didn’t really know anybody who had become a Christian. I just wasn’t part of my life as a young person. My wife was the same way, so I didn’t really know what to expect. And we walked into a church when I was about 35, and I just didn’t know how to even examine these claims. The pastor there was so convinced that Jesus was so smart and so special. I was not, of course, at that time convinced of it, but I was willing to look at it. But what skill set would I bring to know this is the only skill set I knew to bring to it was, how do I measure this thing evidentially? And so that’s what I did.

But the book only came about because years later, I become a Christian. I end up going to seminary. I end up as a youth pastor because my kids, by that time now, they were just young kids when I first got saved. But by the time they became high schoolers, I was their youth pastor. And it was at that time that I really sensed that young people were walking away from the faith. This is even then, it’s still going on, of course. Right. and so I knew I wanted to do something to contribute to this. And I started to take a very evidential approach with my youth pastorate, where I was just talking about the evidence for not, when I first started. I have an art background, so most of my stuff was very artistic in terms of my pastorate.

But I realized at some point that I had to shift. And I was with Sean McDowell training his students on one of these immersive trips to Berkeley that we take UC Berkeley, which just helps expose young Christians to what the objections are going to be when they get in university. And while I was out there training with him, he said, you should write a book about this. And I just didn’t think I had the time to do it. But Sean really encouraged me to just get an outline to him, and I did. And that ended up being cold, Case Christianity. So I really owe Sean a lot because he’s the one who first encouraged me to even write the book to begin with. I never would have probably thought to do that.

Clay Kraby: Well, that’s great. And clearly has been met with some success in that people are still reading it. You have the opportunity to really rerelease it now. The book, Cold Case Christianity, the name is because of your background as a cold case homicide detective. So, folks know, with a cold case there aren’t any witnesses you can talk to. The crime has happened. Maybe you don’t have much, or it may be anything in terms of physical evidence on file. Is that basically what a cold case is?

J Warner Wallace: Yeah. These are all murders because there’s a statute of limitations on every other kind of crime. So there’s no cold, burglary or cold robbery. Those things close by statute after a certain number of years. But murders stay open. And I was working homicide in Los Angeles County, and, we had a bunch of these, in our files, that were unsolved. And they’re unsolved for a reason because they’re lame. We didn’t have any good evidence 30 years ago.

So you have to kind of figure out, like, how do I determine what happened when the case is pretty marginal to begin with, and whatever evidence you did have, especially if there’s witnesses, those folks are probably dead. And even the people who interviewed those folks, the detectives, like, from the generation, my dad’s generation of detectives, and maybe even before my dad’s generation, my dad was a cop there before I was. Those folks are often not available to you anymore either. So you don’t have access to the witness or the report writer. And that really is, if you think about it, the nature of the gospels. We don’t have access to Luke, the report writer, and we certainly don’t have access to the people that Luke was talking to. Those eyewitnesses and servants of the word.

So you have to figure out, what can I trust about a supplemental report written by somebody I don’t have access to, who’s interviewing somebody I don’t have access to? Well, that was the skill set that I applied looking at the Gospels.

Clay Kraby: And so that’s the skill set you applied not only for your personal coming to faith, but that’s really the basis for cold case Christianity.

How has your method of teaching apologetics changed over the last decade

Clay Kraby: And as we’ve mentioned a couple of times, it’s been a number of years since that first came out. How has your method of teaching apologetics, your method of trying to reach the culture, how has that maybe changed and shifted and grown over the last decade?

J Warner Wallace: Well, I think a lot of what I do and I do a lot of work now with police officers, and marriage resiliency retreats that we do with Billy Graham Association. And I’m just home right now, as a matter of fact, for this period of time, because I do a lot of these during the summer and fall. And so we have this stuff pop up, and I realized that this is really the challenge. It’s twofold. Number one is, is it true? Is Christianity true? But number two, is it good?

And that’s something that has changed, I think, in the ten years since I wrote the book. I think what’s happening is the culture is shifting so quickly, and what we would have seen maybe as marginal or on the outskirts has now become mainstream in terms of how people live. What do we do with gender ideology? What do we do with what’s happened to the, institution of marriage? What do we do in terms of the abortion issue? These issues that have become mainstream in culture are really running against the teaching of Jesus. So the question, I think, for young people, is it good? Now, I wrote person of Interest to address that issue. and I also wrote a book coming up next year, which is called The Truth and True Crime, which really addresses the issue of the goodness of Christianity in a slightly different way.

Well, why? Because I think this is important that young people understand that this is not just true, but it’s good. But here’s the problem. My dad would be somebody, as a non-believer, who would say that Christianity could be good, but not be true. He also thinks that Mormonism is good, but not true. And there’s some aspects of Hinduism or Buddhism or any other number of theistic worldviews that might be good. Maybe, you get some good principles on how to live, how to be charitable to others, blah, blah, blah. But they aren’t true.

My dad thinks these are all just useful delusions. Well, I think if young people think this is good but not true, there’s coming a time when they’re going to walk away from it. So these two things are connected. Is it true and is it good? I think we have to make a case for both. And so I think the foundation of the goodness of Christianity stands on the trueness of Christianity. And that’s what I’m trying to get at here in Cold Case Christianity. I’m trying to do it really in a way that is there’s a lot of classic books that have come up, under the field of Christian apologetics, right. And a lot of them are evergreen because the case for Christianity really hasn’t changed in 2000 years. And I think that our book is evergreen as well. but the reality of it is that we’re trying to write to a generation that isn’t right now. We want this to be the book that young people and their parents can look at right now.

That’s why we tried to go back and re-illustrate it. Because when I first wrote the book, I don’t think my publisher understood what I wanted to do in terms of illustrations and the internal layout of the book. And so they’d never had done a book like that. So they really had to kind of struggle with it. And now that it’s ten years in and I’ve written a bunch of other books, there are 400 plus illustrations in person of interest. So they kind of get, oh, I see what you’re doing now. So we were able to go back and add 300 illustrations to Cold Case Christianity wow. Just to make it a more visually accessible book. And we rewrote it in a way that I think is much more accessible and updated because a lot of things do change in terms of archaeology and other ways of looking at things. And, I think it’s a different book now.

Clay Kraby: That’s great.

Do you get a sense that the culture at large is more hostile to Christianity

Clay Kraby: Do you get a sense that the culture at large, is it more hostile to these things? Is it more just disinterested to the claims of Christianity? What has your experience been? What’s the challenge of our day?

J Warner Wallace: Well, and I think this is probably, for those of us who do this work, we might have a weird kind of tilted view, right. Because if you’re constantly out there on social media making this case, you’re going to get all the venom and hostility of people who are pushing back, which you might not get if you’re just a regular Christian living someplace where this is kind of the cultural norm. And I think it’s becoming less the culture for here in Southern California, this was never my cultural norm.

So when I became a Christian, I already knew that I was on the outside looking in in terms of the culture. But I think what has happened is that the goodness of Christianity, most people would say maybe a generation know, I don’t like Christianity, but I do like that Jesus guy. Okay?

And I think if anyone says that today they probably don’t know what Jesus taught. They have a view of Jesus that’s probably pretty underdeveloped, because if you’re a non-believer and you might think, well, Jesus was a good guy, well, do you know what he taught about, marriage? About the things that really are the hot button issues in culture? I think more and more people are, becoming hostile to the notion of Christianity because they think it’s misogynistic, that it’s controlling, that it’s all the isms you could think of, all the phobias you can think of that are generated, they would say, by a Christian conservative worldview. So, in the end, I don’t really spend on my social media a lot of time talking about hot topic issues. I kind of want Jesus to do the talking.

So what I’ve learned is that the gospel will, cure every kind of stupid you can think of. I don’t have to do it. The gospel does it. I just have to introduce people to the truth of the gospel and help them to see this is not just kind of a personal, subjective view of mine, but it’s actually the objective truth about reality. And once they embrace the teaching of Jesus or the gospel and become Christians, then Jesus starts to work in your life and starts to change the way you think. And this is, I think, where the power is. The power is in the gospel and the teaching of Jesus. Not the book written by Jim Wallace, or the teaching of Jim Wallace. But what we’re trying to do is to kind of lay the foundation so that Jesus can do what Jesus always does.

And again, I’ve never been somebody who thought that the Christian apologetics books were going know, be persuasive. What we do is we remove, hopefully, the intellectual barriers that people construct between themselves and the gospel. Then the gospel does all the work. That’s what saves us. It’s the power of God. But we are so resistant sometimes. And I think God uses people like us to help knock down the walls that stand between, a fair hearing of the gospel. And so that’s why I think this work is important. Absolutely.

Clay Kraby: And in going about that work as someone, who walks through that as starting as a skeptic, but taking your skills as a detective, you recognize the importance of integrity and objectivity in that work. How does that find its way into the book? And how has that influenced just not only your investigation, but your presentation of the claims of Christianity?

J Warner Wallace: Well, a lot of it just comes out of my own casework. Right. So in the end, we think that something actually happened 30 years ago to this victim. It’s not my opinion. I mean, this is something that happened a particular way. Whether I like it or don’t like it, would have ever investigated it or never investigated it. Something did happen, and we want the jury to see the way that this actually happened.

So, first of all, they have to understand and embrace the idea that this is not my opinion, not Jim Wallace’s opinion. It’s not the defense attorney’s opinion or the prosecutor’s opinion. It really is an objective examination of what really happened 30 years ago or 40 years ago. That approach that we take evidentially to help people come, to what was the most reasonable inference from evidence is the same approach I take in front of audiences is the same approach I take in this book. Like, let’s take a look at the evidence set. but first of all, understand the rules of evidence.

I think part of the problem is that people don’t. When you go on a jury, if you’ve ever served jury duty, you know you’re going to have to learn a lot of jury instructions before you can just go in that room and make a decision. And those jury instructions are really just instructions for clear thinking. So what we try to do in these books, all my books, but especially in Cold Case, is give you ten kind of rules of evidence. Those rules of evidence will help you think more clearly, not just about Christianity, but the next time you watch a true crime show, you’ll be thinking more clearly about the process. And then we apply that process to the claims of the Gospels. Like, how do you know if a witness is telling the truth? How do you know this isn’t a conspiracy? How do you assess a set of facts and compare them to explanations? These are things that we teach jurors, and those are things that I understood before I ever looked at the gospels. So it didn’t give me a lot of, that kind of structure is helpful because it doesn’t allow you to rabbit trail. It allows you to stay focused on the issues at hand.

Christian apologetics is based on an evidentialist approach to evidence

Clay Kraby: Now, you said there’s ten of them in your book. You don’t have to go through all of them. But what are some of those rules of evidence that people need to be more aware of?

J Warner Wallace: Well, I think some of it’s just kind of a philosophical process, and then there are some rules. Understanding the difference, for example, between what’s reasonable and what’s possible is extremely helpful. And I wrote another whole other book on rules of evidence that are called forensic faith. And that kind of, fleshes this out. But this idea that we have to prove Christianity is true beyond a possible doubt, I hear this a lot. Like, I still have open questions, therefore I could never believe it, or Some things can’t be answered, therefore well, this is the case in every criminal trial I’ve ever worked. I will often tell people that, look, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know, but not everything that could be known. Those are two different things. And I cannot do the second because I don’t know everything myself about this case that could be known, but I know enough to know that he did it, and so will you.

And so this gap between everything that you want and what you actually get is a gap between what’s reasonable and what’s possible. And that’s an important gap. To understand, I’m going to have to ask you to step across your unanswered questions to render a verdict. Every juror does this, and there’s never usually a problem. But if I said to you that there’s more than enough evidence to determine that Christianity is true, but you’re still going to have some opening questions, and that step across the end of the evidence trail to the decision to follow Jesus is called a step of faith. But it’s not a blind step of faith. It’s an evidentially driven step of faith. And all of Scripture affirms, this Jesus was a classic evidentialist, and there’s just no way around evidence. As a matter of fact, I’ve been saying this rather controversial thing lately, and I’ll say it to you as well. There is no other version of Christian apologetics other than evidentialism. What I mean is every view, if you’re a cumulative case guy or you’re a presupposition presuppositionalist, you are using something that you’re presupposing. You’re presupposing that the Gospels, that the New Testament is telling you the truth. You presuppose that.

But what are you presupposing? The written work of eyewitnesses. That’s called direct evidence. People who claim to have seen the risen Christ, and on the basis of that observation, they wrote these texts, either letters or Gospels. Those are eyewitness accounts, and that’s called direct evidence. So even to presuppose Christianity is true, you could only do it if you are presupposing what the direct evidence of the New Testament. So you’re stuck with an evidentialist approach no matter how you cut this pie. And so I think that part of that is just helping people to see what rules of evidence are. I’ll give you one more that I think is important. How do you assess evidence and make a decision? A lot of this is what we call abductive reasoning, right?

This idea that you make two lists. One is a list of evidences that starts with an E evidence. The other is a list that starts with an E, explanations. Every juror is going to do this. We’re going to show you a bunch of evidences and I’m going to offer an explanation. So is the defense team. And those explanations have to be assessed versus the evidence. Well, this is how I became a Christian when it came to the examination of the Resurrection. There are certain minimal things I, as an atheist, would have said, well, I think that’s true, and I think that’s true. But there are, like, six atheist explanations for those pieces of evidence. And there’s one Christian explanation. I just simply assessed that process using adductive reasoning to determine that the best, most reasonable explanation that has the least liabilities was the Christian explanation. And this is a way we can assess any set of evidences. If your son comes home late on a Friday night and you’re wondering why they’re late, you can look at the evidence you have and listen to his explanation for the evidence and make the same kind of assessment. This is what we do every day. You do it all the time. Jurors, do it every day. But few of us are willing to apply that to the claims of the gospels. And that’s something you could do if you took an evidential approach.

Clay Kraby: So in terms of the so called cold case for let’s take the resurrection, you’ve got evidence the tomb is empty. You really can’t get around the fact that the tomb was empty. And you’ve got an explanation. You’ve got the Christian explanation is that Jesus rose from the dead like he said he was going to rise from the dead. And then you’ve got one of a number of explanations. One being that the disciples stole the body. Let’s take one, came right out the gate, that disciples snuck in and stole the body. You can find that explanation being touted within the pages of scripture. And now you as the individual, and any individual that’s honestly searching through these things must decide which of those is more plausible, which of those has the least amount of liability. And as you start to investigate those things, even though there’s this gap that exists between what you would like to know, and what you have in front of you, that’s the job of the detective, and that’s the job of the person examining the claims of Christ. Is that right?

J Warner Wallace: Yeah, it is. And I’ll tell you, that’s a very good point. When you see that, there are like, six ways to describe the kind of minimal claims of the Gospels that I would have accepted as an atheist. Maybe they imagined it, maybe they lied about it. Maybe they, were influenced by somebody who believed to be I list all six of them. And anytime you see a list of six explanations, there’s a reason why there are six or five or four. For example, there are many explanations that cosmologists offer for the beginning of the universe. And even now, with the new telescope evidence, we’re trying to decide, well, why are there so many explanations? Because if you hold to explanation five, it’s because you don’t think that one through four work. If you hold to explanation three, it’s because you don’t think that one, two, four, or five work. The reason why there are so many explanations is because none of them work. It should be the first tip that you’re probably those aren’t solid because there’s only one Christian explanation.

So I went through all of those. They all have liabilities. But, hey, the Christian explanation also has liabilities. The Christian explanation requires a miracle to occur. And if you’re somebody like me, who was a very committed philosophical naturalist, that’s a liability I was not willing to ignore. So I had to first work out my own thinking on do I have any reason to believe that there is something extra natural at work in the universe? Something immaterial, something outside of space, time, matter, physics and chemistry? I think that’s a worthy investigation in and of itself. Because once I investigated those claims, I realized, yeah, there is something outside of the material realm that is at work, that it can account for. Things like consciousness and free agency and the information we see in DNA and the design features we see in biology and the beginning of life in the universe and the fine tuning we see that feels like it’s apparent even from non believers.

Cold Case was the first book I wrote after reading the New Testament

J Warner Wallace: In the universe and the existence of objective moral facts. Even the fact that there’s a standard by which we measure things and call something evil. These are claims, these are features of the universe that I think are best explained by something personal outside of space, time, and matter. And if that’s the case, then there’s no miracle on the pages of the New Testament, including the resurrection that is really of substance. I mean, if there’s a God who creates everything from nothing, I’m betting he can do anything on the pages of the New Testament. These are what I call small potato miracles. And so I think in the end, I had to do both. Which know, when I first wrote Cold Case, I was teaching a bunch of stuff to students, and Sean saw me teaching all of it, and he said, you should write a book. And I was like, which book should I write first? I’m glad I wrote Cold Case first because it kind of captured the ethos of my work. But I was tempted to write God’s Crime Scene first, because that really is the investigation. If there’s no God, then there’s no Christian God. So the foundation for my thinking was, first of all, do I have good reason to believe there might be a God? It was just the New Testament that provoked me to even start that investigation. But that’s really what I had to do to get rid of my bias against the supernatural, was to do the work that’s in God’s crime scene. So a lot of this for me was like, do I write forensic Faith first? Do I write god’s crime scene first. Do I write Cold Case? I offered all three to the publisher. They chose, and good for me, they chose Cold Case first. So that’s what the one we wrote first. That’s excellent.

Cold Case explores the difference between direct and circumstantial evidence

Clay Kraby: Now, in terms of someone that’s looking into these things, they have had their. interest piqued somehow, a friend’s handed them a Bible, the Spirit’s working on their heart, whatever the case might be, and they’re looking at their New Testament. I mean, this is something that takes place in first century Israel. They don’t have cameras, they don’t have Judean times being written daily and circulated. So there’s not a lot of direct evidence for them to evaluate. can you get a little bit into what the difference is between direct and circumstantial evidence and how that relates to this venture that you lay out in the book?

J Warner Wallace: Yeah, it’s a good point. We have a tendency to use these words loosely, and so when we say direct, sometimes people will use that term. And what they really mean is, like, it’s, really pointed, or it’s, really specific. That’s not the word for the use of the word direct. So direct, evidence is simply one form. If an eyeball can see it and capture it and then restate it, it’s an eyewitness. That’s the only thing that counts as direct evidence. Everything else is indirect evidence. Now, given the kind of generation in which we live, this eyeball on your camera, on your phone video is direct evidence because it’s like a reporting party. So it’s kind of like an eyewitness account. It, has to be tested. I don’t trust eyewitnesses. They have to be tested. That’s the whole second half of the book in Cold case, is testing the eyewitnesses, but everything else is called indirect evidence.

So DNA information. DNA. That’s indirect. Fingerprints, indirect ballistics, indirect, blood spatter, indirect. Gunshot residue on the hands, indirect. If it’s not an eyewitness, it’s in the indirect category. And the other name for indirect evidence is circumstantial evidence. And judges tell jurors all the time, this is another chapter of the book, that they are to treat indirect evidence with the exact same priority and regard with which they treat direct evidence, that none is to be given more status or value than the other. So that’s helpful because most people think, if I don’t have a witness now, the question then becomes, well, what are the Gospels? And, people have made these claims. I mean, I’m not the only person who thinks that the gospels are an eyewitness account, although lots of skeptics will say they’re not. They’re written by anonymous people. Well, that’s the first claim I needed to know. Are these eyewitness accounts. They’re tested under four criteria. Now, most people who say they’re not eyewitness accounts don’t even know the criteria by which we test eyewitnesses, but they are in the jury instructions.

So I simply follow the jury instructions, and I tested these accounts as eyewitness accounts. Surprisingly, they pass in a way that is very unique. so, for example, if you were to apply the same four criteria to the Book of Mormon, it fails miserably very quickly. But if you apply the four principles to the gospels because remember, both books, the Book of Mormon and the Gospels, the New Testament, they both describe a series of events over a period of time. The Book of Mormon describes about 1000 year history from 600 BC to about 400 Ad. All of which occurred in a specific region on the North American continent involving specific people, groups living in specific cities, having wars, using certain weapons, describing certain animals, certain monetary systems, none of which can be confirmed at all archaeologically. And that’s why this kind of thing is important. Corroborative evidence is an important part of any eyewitness claim.

So, I always tell people that my family is all atheist or Mormons. My dad remarried, his second wife is Mormon. So I would have loved for Mormonism to be true only because I have a lot of family members who are Mormon, and if I was going to become a believer, I could join them. But the problem is that Mormonism is false. It’s demonstrably false. And so I always say that this process I’m describing in Cold Case Christianity will not only lead you to truth, it will protect you from error. That’s another thing that’s changed in the last ten years, really, since more Mormons have run for office like Mitt Romney, is that Mormons have now kind of positioned themselves there wasn’t a case 20 years ago, but now Mormons will call themselves Christians. They want to be seen as a domination of Christianity. A lot of the people who follow me on social media are disappointed to find out that I don’t think Mormonism is true. But this is important for us to decide which version of there’s a lot of progressive versions of Jesus that aren’t true either. We need to know which version is true.

Clay Kraby: Yeah, I’ve got to talk with, Eric Johnson with Mormonism Research Ministries, and he does great work over there and really helping people do much the same process of analyzing. Okay, here are the claims, here is the evidence, here’s the explanation of these things. And does it pan out or not? We’re all in agreement that in regards to the claims of Mormonism, it does not pan out.

J Warner Wallace: Right.

Clay Kraby: And while at the same time making the claim that the gospel accounts are, historically reliable documents, and how is it that you can make that claim? What is, perhaps like the chain of custody that you mentioned in the book for making the case that these are reliable documents that we can trust?

J Warner Wallace: Okay, so there’s four ways that we determine if a witness is reliable. One, were they really there to see what they said they saw? So that’s why the early dating of the gospels is critical. if people are correct. The skeptics who will say this all the time, by the way, the skepticism really has only started in the last two or 200 years or so, that the gospels are written late by anonymous people in the third or fourth century. Well, then, of course, they’re not eyewitness accounts. They have to be written within a lifetime of eyewitnesses in order to be eyewitness accounts. So the first thing I need you to know is how early are the accounts? Two, can they be corroborated in some way, even though all corroborative evidence just measures a small fraction of the eyewitness account? So I don’t expect videos on my cases because they’re too old, and I don’t expect video confirmation on this case either. But there should be some fractional corroborative evidence, like there is in every, case I investigate that would corroborate the eyewitness account. Third, have they changed their story over time or had they been consistent? Fourth, did they possess a bias that would cause them to lie? That’s the criteria by which we measure eyewitnesses in criminal trials. I think it’s a fair criteria, and that was the criteria I applied to the gospels. If you apply that same criteria to Joseph Smith in the Book of Mormon, you’ll see why quickly it doesn’t hold up. So I always tell people I became a Christian at the same time I became, ah, a not Mormon, because I bought my first Book of Mormon before I even read the Old Testament. And I read through all of the, Mormon scriptures, pearly Great Price Doctrines and Covenants Book of Mormon before I read the Old Testament because I was so interested in what my family thought was true. My half siblings and, this is why I always say, yeah, I became a Christian at the same time I became a not Mormon.

Clay Kraby: And by following that line of evidence. So what would your advice be for someone that, might be listening, that is on the fence about Christianity? How would you encourage them to apply a, detective style approach to their own exploration of Christianity?

J Warner Wallace: Well, first thing, I would say that the first rule of all investigative processes, and it’s the first chapter in our book, is that you cannot walk in with your mind made up. And if you walk in with your mind made up, there’s a good chance that you will come to a conclusion that’s not accurate, or you’ll stop looking at certain evidence because your mind’s already made up. And I offer a story in the book. All these chapters have stories from real investigations that will help you see why this is so critical. But that presuppositional bias is so key. Look, it’s a matter of you having to work through that. I mean, I had the same kind of naturalistic bias, but I knew that that was going to be the first issue. Like, is that bias fair? And when we select jurors, that’s one of the first things we’re looking for. Does this juror hold a bias? If so, we’re not going to include that juror on the truck. This is true for the defense team.

Finding out what your presuppositional biases are is super important in jury selection

J Warner Wallace: Also, if that juror has got a bias against anyone who’s wearing a county jumpsuit, that person is not going to get on the juror either, on the jury either, because the defense team is not going to want them on the jury. So figuring out what your presuppositional biases are so you can level the field, that’s super important. If you’re seeking or you’re just a skeptic, you have to ask yourself, and by the way, this is true for Christians, too. We have to make sure that we’re not so bought in because our family is a bunch of m Christians, that we have a bias in the opposite direction. So we have to be fair. And that being fair, I think, is if you look at the evidence fairly, I think you’re going to come to the most reasonable inference. That’s been my experience. But I know when I say that a lot of listeners who are not Christians are thinking, well, there you go. An atheist thinks that I’m biased. No, I just know me. I know me. As a non-believer, I needed to be fair. And being fair is really tough. If you have, a strong bias that you’ve had your entire life. And when I say bias, I don’t mean that you’re, like, biased. I mean that you just have a presuppositional foundation that you need to challenge. And so that’s what I’m talking about here.

Clay Kraby: Yeah. If you go into just about anything, thinking that you don’t have some sort of bias that influences your thinking, you’ve probably not thought about it hard enough.

J Warner Wallace: That’s right. And we always say this. We’re not looking for people who don’t have opinions. Everyone’s got opinions. The question is, how willing are we to hold those with an open hand? That’s what it comes down to, because you’re not going to find people who don’t have opinions or don’t have life experience that’s led them in one direction or the other. We’re just looking for people who are fair, in other words. And I think this has been my work in the last year, I’ve realized this, both with couples and marriage, counseling that we’ve been doing, and marriage training we’ve been doing also, just in terms of working with young people and making a case for the Christian worldview. I discovered this really a couple of years ago in modern research.

This is in the next book. There’s one attribute of human nature that if you adopt, it will change the way you thrive and flourish as a human. It’ll improve your mental wellbeing. It’ll improve your physical health, it’ll improve your grades, it’ll improve your goal achievement. It’ll give you more wealth, more long term invested wealth. It’ll actually make you a better student, a better employer, a better employee. It will help you to determine truth from falsity better. And this attribute is surprising, and it’s in all of the kind of sociological research in the last 30, 25 to 30 years. But it’s an ancient principle that is Christian, and it’s on the pages of the New Testament that we are now just kind of affirming like we discovered it for the first time under modern sociological and counseling, studies. And what is that attribute? It’s humility. Yeah, it’s a weird. Humility is the key to human flourishing on every one of those metrics in a way that is surprising to me, but it shouldn’t be, because the Christian worldview stands on that one principle. The first step to becoming a Christian is to have to know that there is a God and you’re not him. It’s an act of humility in which you’re willing to bend your need to the Savior you need. And that is the thing that I think is so shocking, is that well, not shocking, but it should be persuasive that the Christian worldview, that the Scriptures describe the world the way it really is. It describes humans the way we really are. And if you’re investigating the case for Christianity yet you don’t possess humility, I don’t care what you’re investigating. I know this right away. I never empanel jurors that are experts in the area that I’m going to be describing in the case. So if I’ve got a case that hinges on this serological examination of blood evidence, there’s no way I’m putting a serologist on my panel, because that person’s likely to think he knows or she knows more than the expert. It’s really hard to teach people who have got so much training that they’re no longer humble, they don’t possess humility. So if I had one attribute I’m looking for in jurors, it’s humility. Because then they might have a bias, they might have an opinion, but because they’re humble, they recognize they can’t hold on to it too tightly, and they’re willing to hold it with an open hand. So if you are somebody who’s listening to this and you’re thinking, well, I like to investigate Christianity, ask yourself first, do you possess humility? Because humility is what’s important at the beginning of every investigation.

Clay Kraby: That makes a lot of sense.

J Warner Wallace: Makes a lot of sense.

Wallace has revised Cold Case Christianity to make it more persuasive

Clay Kraby: So for those who are listening, and they actually have a copy of Cold Case Christianity on their shelf, what is your pitch for picking up the new, revised, updated, better edition of Cold Case Christianity? And where can they go and do that?

J Warner Wallace: Okay, well, yeah, that’s something I’ve realized, too, that when I saw Greg write Tactics and I read Tactics, the new version, he asked me for an endorsement. So I read the book and I realized, wow, this is a different book.That’s what we tried to do here. I knew that this needed to be a different book. There’s not a single page that I didn’t make a so, that’s I can say that right away. There’s not a single page of this book that I did not make a change. We added so much new information and everything I learned in the last ten years from presenting the case in front of audiences, that’s something you learn over time. And then I think, oh, there’s a better way to say this. There’s a faster way to, there’s a more persuasive way to say it. Well, we went back and we included all that learning from stage presentations. We included all that in the book. So it’s much more persuasive, I think. It’s got a new postscript where we look at twelve objections to cold case Christianity that are usually offered, and we answer those. It’s got a new kind of preface in which we talk about the role of evidence and how it works. and also we’ve re-illustrated it with, 300 new illustrations.

So I think sometimes the illustrations are a more helpful approach for people to see it, especially when you’re doing anything that’s cumulative case, because cumulative cases are visually robust. And when you see the case, you go, oh, okay, that’s for number one, I can remember it easier. And two, I get it’s more persuasive that way. So what we tried to do also is I get it. There’s a lot of people who have bought this book. It’s been very popular over the last ten years. I’m really grateful for that. So I wanted to do something to kind of reward my gratitude on that issue. So what we did was we created a 30 session video curriculum. It is over 10 hours of content. It’s the same class I teach at golden, at Gateway, now called Gateway. It used to be called Golden Gate Baptist Seminary. I teach at that seminary as well, and I just did this class last year. So I created the content really knowing this book was coming. And I wanted to finally say, okay, here’s the content from everything I’ve taught on Apologetics in a ten hour video course. And now we’ve also got it with all the outlines and fill ins and all of that stuff. So it’s got a PDF set that goes with it. We just want to give that to people who will buy the new book. Because I think in the end, the goal for any book like this is to create better case makers. We’ve also created a 410 slide PowerPoint, because so many people are teaching cold case Christianity in their churches, in their youth groups, in their small groups. So this is the most robust PowerPoint we’ve ever created for anything. And it’s got every illustration from the book included in the PowerPoint. So I think you’ll find it visually robust and it’ll make it easier to teach these principles to others. And what we’re saying basically is, hey, now is the time, at my age and at the time of this book, to start giving away the materials that will help people teach the concepts so that’s what we’re doing with this. We’re not making that available for anyone who owns the old book because so much of the content now has been regenerated. Like, this PowerPoint would make no sense at all with the original book because it’s all of the new illustrations. So this is really specific to the new book.

Clay Kraby: Wonderful. I’ll be sure to include links on where you can pick up a copy of the book, link to our previous conversations and other resources we mentioned in this interview. You can find that in the show notes for this episode at ReasonableTheology.org/coldcase. We have been talking to, detective and Apologist and author and teacher and, ah, reigning champion on number of guest spots on this podcast, jay Warner Wallace. Thank you so much for joining me.

J Warner Wallace: Hey, thanks for having me. I’ll keep that. I’m waiting for that certificate to hang behind me, so make sure you send it.

Clay Kraby: We’ll get it in the mail.

J Warner Wallace: Okay, cool. Thanks.

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