Detective Uncovers the Truth about Jesus
Share This article
CHRIST UNDER SCRUTINY
Jim is the second member of a three generation law enforcement family. His father was a cop and detective for nearly thirty years. By the time Jim was in his 30s, he had already been a patrol officer, on the SWAT Team, and a senior detective on the Crime Impact Team. He was a devoted husband and father. He was also an atheist. “I rejected supernaturalism thoroughly, denying both the existence of a supernatural God and the possibility of the miraculous,” he says. “I truly believed everything I observed in the universe could be explained and attributed to natural, physical causes and processes."
When a fellow officer invited him to church repeatedly, Jim finally acquiesced and attended church. When the pastor spoke of Jesus as a teacher, Jim listened for the first time. He was intrigued and willing to listen to Jesus as a teacher but not ready to accept Him as savior yet.
While reading the Gospels, Jim was struck by the fact that they resembled eyewitness accounts. He decided to investigate this Jesus of the Bible like he investigated all of his cases: by reviewing the evidence. He was trained to use forensic statement analysis (FSA) while conducting interviews with suspects. So, he decided to also use this approach while investigating the Bible.
“Within a month, and despite my deep skepticism and hesitation, I concluded that Mark’s gospel is the eyewitness account of the apostle Peter. I was beginning to move from a belief that Jesus was a wise teacher to a belief in what He said about Himself,” Jim explains.
INVESTIGATIGATING LIKE A DETECTIVE
For most of Jim’s career, he investigated cold cases. Such cases are from the distant past and have little or no forensic evidence. After much research, Jim says, “In the end, a strong cumulative case can usually be made by collecting witness statements, testing their reliability, and verifying observations with what little forensic evidence is available. By taking this approach I arrested and successfully prosecuted several cold-case suspects who thought they had gotten away with murder.” Similarly, Christianity claims an event from the distant past for which there is little forensic evidence.
If Christians learn to approach their beliefs evidentially and take the same forensic approach detectives take when examining an event from the past, the rest will take care of themselves. When Jim began reading the Gospels he found variations in the eyewitness testimonies. For example, one gospel account says there was only one woman present during the morning of the resurrection and another gospel says there were three present. Jim says that those variations didn’t deter the evidence for him. In contrast, the differences comforted him. Jim explains, “In real cases, witnesses never, ever, ever agree and that’s a good thing. If they agree, we call that collusion.”
When Jim is called by dispatch to investigate a case, he always has one request: He asks that the officers separate the witnesses. “People remember things differently based on a variety of things like perception and background,” he explains. For example, if Jim asks an eyewitness what kind of gun the suspect had, he might get different answers. One eyewitness might know a lot about guns and the other one might not. If he asks what the suspect was wearing, one person might not pay attention to that kind of detail, while another witness does. Jim says that even though there are thousands of variations between the documents, 99.9 percent of the variants are NOT contradictory to the Gospel message.
Jim gives us 10 principles that every person searching for truth needs to master:
1. DON’T BE A “KNOW-IT-ALL:” All of us hold suppositions impacting the way we see the world around us. It’s important to do your best to enter every investigation with your eyes and mind open to all reasonable possibilities. Objectivity is paramount and it’s the first principle of detective work. Never investigate anything with your mind already made up.
2. LEARN TO INFER: Investigators use a methodology known as abductive reasoning (also known as “inferring to the most reasonable explanation”).
3. THINK CIRCUMSTANTIALLY: There are two types of evidence: direct and indirect. Direct evidence is the testimony of the eyewitnesses. Indirect is everything else.
4. TEST YOUR WITNESSES: Ask the following questions about your witness:
a. Were they even there?
b. Have they been honest and accurate over time?
c. Can they be verified?
d. Do they have an ulterior motive?
5. HANG ON EVERY WORD: Pay close attention to every word a person uses. We all choose the words we use. Sometimes as a matter of habit. Sometimes consciously or subconsciously. Jim has learned to hang on to every word because they offer clues.
6. SEPARATE ARTIFACT FROM EVIDENCE: Jim says that every scene contains important evidence guiding us to truth while also containing unrelated artifacts that cause uncertainty.
7. RESIST CONSPIRACY THEORIES: “We all need to take the time to understand the elements of successful conspiracies so we can communicate them to others… I’ve come to learn they are very difficult to pull off,” Jim explains.
8. RESPECT THE CHAIN OF CUSTODY: If the evidence isn’t carefully handled, it diminishes its validity in court. Jim learned about this as a detective and used it to investigate the reliability of the Gospels.
9. KNOW WHEN “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH:” Jim explains that sometimes we don’t know the impact some evidence will have on others. Even if we don’t think it’s important, it might be to someone else. That’s why they created what is known as the “standard of proof” (SOP)—which varies depending on the case under consideration. It includes Some credible evidence; Preponderance of the evidence; Clear and convincing evidence; and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt proof.
10. PREPARE FOR AN ATTACK: Jim learned when presenting evidence in court, be prepared for a counterattack from defense attorneys. Preparing to defend your case, backed with solid evidence, is vital.
UPDATED & EXPANDED EDITION
In the updated and expanded edition of Cold-Case Christianity J. Warner Wallace includes his personal testimony, 300 new illustrations and graphic elements, and a new afterword that includes the most commonly asked questions about the realiablity of the New Testament.
Get your copy of J. Warner Wallace's Cold-Case Christianity and discover more at: coldcasechristianity.com.
Share This article