Cold-Case Christianity – With J. Warner Wallace: Have you investigated the truth about Jesus? Is there cold evidence that will bring us to the truth about Christianity? Tune in to hear J. Warner Wallace discuss why it is important for believers and their families to know the cold-case for Christianity.
Air Date: 06/16/2020
Guest: J. Warner Wallace
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, it’s WallBuilders Live, we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith and the culture. We have a different perspective than most people out there, I guess today we look at it from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective, all three, whatever the issue might be.
You say, hey, look, what can we learn from history on this thing? Nothing’s new under the sun, other nations have faced similar challenges, whatever the issue may be. Most importantly, what does the Bible say about it? What’s the biblical worldview? What’s the correct way to respond as a Christian to whatever the social issue might be?
And then, of course, the constitutional perspective, something too few people think about today, we try to make that front and center here at WallBuilders Live, we go back to the foundations of the country. In fact, that’s what WallBuilders comes from. The scripture in Nehemiah says arise and rebuild the walls that we may no longer be a reproach.
Think about our culture right now. It’s falling apart. The foundations are unhealthy and so we have to rebuild those foundations. That’s our job. That’s the responsibility we have in being salt and light in the community. And so, every day we talk about that from a biblical, constitutional historical perspective, whatever that issue might be.
We want to encourage you to check us out at wallbuilderslive.com. You can learn more about all three of us as hosts here on the program. David Barton, he’s America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders.
And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator in America’s Constitution coach. Check it out at wallbuilderslive.com. And while you’re there, if you really want to help save the Republic, I mean, literally restore constitutional jurisdictions, the rule of law, blind justice, all the things that we fight for here at WallBuilders, then get on wallbuilderslive.com today, make a contribution, one-time or monthly.
Whatever you can do, come alongside us, those finances are necessary to get truth into the culture. That’s what our real problem is right now. Rejecting truth, rejecting moral absolutes for so long and allowing the Leftist poison to be planted into our young people for the last 40 years of this country, we have to get truth into the hands of as many Americans as possible. And every dollar you donate to WallBuilders Live helps us to expand our message to reach more people and to get truth back into the culture.
Alright, David, Tim, later in the program, really neat guests today, he did these books, Cold-Case Christianity, where he was a detective in the past and on the past, he still, you know, you see him on TV all the time doing these cases from 30 years ago and he ends up going and solving them and he took that approach towards Christianity. So, we get a chance to interview him and talk about some of the things that he’s made available out there.
And, you know, we talked on the program all the time, guys about the importance of intellectually studying the Scripture and actually being ready to give an answer as we’re commanded, actually being thinking Christians not just feeling Christians. That’s an important thing today when Christianity is so often under attack.
Yeah, it’s one of the reasons that we enjoy having guys at least on the program. And I’d even chuckle as you introduce him that we’ve got this really great guest and I thought, when would we ever say we have a guest who’s not very good, they’re kind of mediocre? I mean, they’re okay. You might enjoy him.
Yeah, you might want to tune out today, folks, he’s not one of our great guests.
You can just ignore this one. We have such a great privilege of being able to talk with really unique voices and people with such unique life experiences. And in this case, somebody who helps bring a level of practicality and something that I think for all three of us, we greatly appreciate the apologetics of faith, of being able to know why we believe what we believe is valid, why we should be able to sustain that position.
And we want to make sure I mean, we do this with history, we challenge each other quite often. Okay, you said that, is it this or is it that? And we’ll go and look up confirm. No, it’s really this and was in this letter. We challenge each other because we want to make sure that we are presenting truth and this is absolutely the same with our faith: we want to make sure that we are looking for truth in our faith.
And this is somebody who brings us really interesting perspective of how do we know that faith is real? How do we know it’s true? How can you confirm it? And because of his life experience, it’s a very different kind of apologetic approach to faith.
It really is interesting from the standpoint that if you think about what he does professionally, he takes a cold case that is 30 years old and solves it. Now, you don’t do that with feelings, you do that with evidence, because all the stuff, even a lot of the eyewitnesses are gone and so you’re having to do everything on evidence-based, which really gives you an interesting perspective. I was thinking is, even with considering what this is about.
Looking at Jesus from an Attorney’s Viewpoint
I was remembering back to a guy in Missouri that I knew, who is a judge, he was an attorney. And as an attorney, he looked at the trial of Jesus from an attorney standpoint, not what the Bible said necessarily, but looking at it from an attorney standpoint: how you would argue it, what the evidence was, what kind of claims would be made in the courts and how Jesus was convicted, etc.
I thought, it’s interesting when you start looking at things through the filter that you have and in this case, it is a purely evidence-based filter and that’s a really interesting way to look at it instead of necessarily what we hear in church or how we grew up, hearing it in Sunday school or what we’ve been told by others. Follow the evidence, which evidence happens to be truth.
And you know, we’re all three huge fans of truth is the standard. That is the objective. That’s what you want, whether it’s American history or faith or anything else, truth matters. And so, this is going to be a really interesting interview to hear how you can take that evidence-based approach and see what it does with Christianity and Jesus in the Bible.
Alright, stay with us, folks. Warner Wallace. J. Warner Wallace is with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
A Moment from American History
This is Tim Burton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Many today assert that religion is something private, that it has no place in the public square and that it is incompatible with government. But the Founding Fathers believed exactly the opposite.
They held that religion was absolutely necessary in order to maintain our free system of government. For example, John Adams declared, “We have no government armed with power, capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” And signer of the Declaration, Benjamin Rush, similarly affirmed, “Without religion, there can be no virtue and without virtue, there can be no liberty; and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”
The Founding Fathers understood that limited government required public morality from the people and that public morality was produced by the Christian religion.
For more information about the Founding Fathers views on religion and public life, go to wallbuilders.com
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live, thanks for staying with us today. Excited about this interview today. So many great materials at this website. You’ve seen him on television. Dateline calls him the ‘Evidence Whisper’. Glad to have our Cold-Case Christianity author, J. Warner Wallace with us. Thank you, sir, for coming on today.
Welcome J. Warner Wallace
I’m so glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
Hey, you bring such a cool approach to this. It makes it fun and interesting to actually study apologetics and to say, okay, what is the evidence for Christ? You started off wanting to prove that Jesus was not raised from the dead. You started off as an atheist, right?
Well, yeah, I actually thought that this was such a ridiculous claim. I was an atheist till I was 35. I didn’t, you know, there’s no Christians in my family. So, it wasn’t really even something I gave much credible thought to, right. It just seemed like a silly notion to begin with, especially for somebody who was kind of raised in that Star Trek, you know, 1960s and 70s… we landed on the moon.
We are conquering one problem after another with science and I figured every question, meaningful question you might have would eventually be addressed by the sciences. And so, this idea that there was, you know, supernatural events in the ancient past involving, you know, come on, to me, it was not even worth my time, it seems so utterly ridiculous.
And so, you took a scientific approach to the whole thing?
Well, I got lucky in the sense that was not looking back at it, now, it’s not luck at all. But I was probably about nearly 10 years, about 8 or 9 years on the job as a detective when I first took seriously the claims in so much that I even was willing to go out and buy a Bible, because up to that point, you know, we didn’t have a Bible in the house.
So, you know, my wife was more interested than I was and we were raising our kids and she had kind of been raised in an environment where at least you would acknowledge God’s existence, right. So, shouldn’t we raise our kids the same way and give them some kind of theological upbringing? I thought, well, no. I mean, I would have said no. I mean, but if you want to do it, I love my wife. I’m happy to do whatever will make her happy.
Investigating the Gospel
So, I was going to go to church and I at least had a skill set in place that when I encountered the gospels, I felt like I knew enough about how to test them. Because, you know, let’s face it that the gospel authors are writing these things as if they expect us to believe they actually happened and that these were observed by the authors who were present when this occurred.
And I’m thinking, okay, that’s very much like working cold-cases where you don’t have access to the witnesses anymore because they’re dead, but you do have the supplemental reports and you can try to recreate the crime or kind of reconstruct or test the reliability of the supplemental reports and that’s what I really did to start. That’s how I became a Christian.
So, did you view the gospels almost like a journal of the individual, but yet you still needed investigate what they say they saw?
Well, right. So, turns out there’s at least in California, we have a Jury’s instructions for jurors in these kinds of trials where they can assess, you know, eyewitnesses are going to come in and they’re going to testify. How do you know if they’re reliable? Well, we give jurors 13 questions that actually end up breaking into four large categories. You know, was the person really there? Can we demonstrate that he was really there to see the things he said he saw?
Can it be corroborated in some way with some kind of verified, you know, corroborative-evidence? Has he change the story over time? Or has he been honest and accurate about all kinds of other details and has never changed the story? And then finally, does he possess a bias that would cause him to say something it’s not true? And those are the areas that we allow jurors to investigate. And so, I thought, well, because I investigated gospel authors the same way. Yeah, you could.
And by the way, this is not like it’s all that unusual. I mean, criminal trial is for cold cases are… I’ve got cases, the most recent one we solve last year was a 1972. So, you’re going back quite a number of years. And sadly, we don’t get justice often before key witnesses or family members, loved ones pass away. And so, and I also had cases too where I don’t even have the detective available who wrote the supplemental report, the guy who talked to the witness, he’s not even available.
So now what do I have? I have reports chronicling the statements of eyewitnesses, written by people who are talking to the eyewitnesses, but also are not available to me. This is like Luke, you know, he says the Gospel of Luke that he passed on to, he’s writing to Theophilus, given to him by eyewitnesses related to the story of Jesus and I don’t have access to Luke and I also don’t have access to whoever Luke is talking to, but that’s not uncommon in cold cases, you just have to work backwards.
So, were you surprised at after your own kind of journey through that and coming to a belief yourself that okay, this is real, this really happened, were you surprised at, you know, once you started putting out the books, how much people gobbled it up? And we’re just like, oh, wow, this is a different approach. It’s almost like, I mean, it was a way to look at the Gospels and look at the life of Christ in a totally different way. And people Loved it. I mean, you’ve had a tremendous impact on a lot of people that would not have even been willing to read these things or study these things if it hadn’t been for the way you approached it.
You know, I’ll be honest with you. I’m surprised that this isn’t the way that everybody looking in… you know, I’m struggling through this. Didn’t know much about the world of apologetics.
The Beginning of a Life-Changing Investigation
It wasn’t like, you know, as it is the 1990s and the internet was still pretty new, I didn’t even have internet at my house. Would back then those days, I would go to work early in the morning, I asked my sergeant, hey, can I do an investigation before I start my job, started the shift?
He said, well, if you’ll bring your own paper and ink, because we’re not using department ink and paper on your stupid investigation. So, if you’ll bring ink and paper, you could do whatever you want before you start your shift.
So, I would go into hours early, and I’d use the internet at work to figure out, you know, like, because I was one of those guys who would have been writing against Christianity. So, I knew what my objections were.
I just didn’t know what the source where I would have to go to, so a lot of it for me was going to the source, you know, church history for century history, who are the non-Christian historians like Tacitus and Ballasts and just trying to really dig through? You know what happened in that first century that changed the course of history?
And so, it was really important for me to go to sources, not to trust experts for their opinions related to the sources. But okay, tell me what it is you’re basing your opinion on and let me go to that, I’ll form my own opinion, but I need to know what was the source of your information.
And so, a lot of that was, you know, part of what I was doing and I thought that never [inaudible 13:39] do this. You know, this is how last you become a Christian. Now, I get it, that for a lot of people, it’s because they’ve had an experience that has demonstrated for them that Christianity is true.
But the only people I knew in my life who were believers in anything were my half brothers and sisters from my dad’s second marriage. He’s an atheist, but his wife is a Mormon and I have six half brothers and sisters raised LDS.
And so, they also, would say that they are Mormons because they’ve had an experience that demonstrated for them that Mormonism is true. Everyone is got an experience that demonstrates for them that something is true. The question is, have you ever tested your experience to see it is not just an experience, but it actually is a measurement of something true?
And so, I just didn’t trust my experiences and I still don’t trust my experiences. I’m still one of those guys, who’s even skeptical about everything I experience. And I think that’s helped me to be able to kind of be a little bit more objective about how strong is this case.
Investigation or Emotional Experience
Well, you know, as you were describing that, you know, doesn’t everybody approach it this way? Maybe, I instantly was thinking about, you know, too, you went through a year or two of catechism before you accepted the faith and were baptized and all those things. So, that was almost like an investigation, you know, really studying it and actually having to reason and think through it rather than just an emotional experience. And so, in many ways, we’re missing that in Christendom today.
No, I think you’re right. I think that’s very, very true. Actually, the way we use testimony and the way we use the word testimony is not the way that the authors of the book of Acts. You know, when Luke wrote the book of Acts and he used the word testimony, which where you’re going to see it most often used.
He’s talking about the testimony of direct evidence, eyewitnesses, the only form of direct evidence available in criminal trials is eyewitness testimony. Everything else, DNA, fingerprints, everything else is indirect, also known as circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence is a strong form of evidence, but it’s eyewitnesses.
And in the book of Acts, you’ll see that the testimony offered is not how did God change my life? How am I different now that I’ve experienced God? And that’s often what our testimony is. But that’s not the testimony of the eyewitnesses. They would testify to seeing the risen Christ. They were always pointing back and making the case for the resurrection.
So I think it’s both and I want people to know how your life has changed since you’ve become a Christian, but I also want them to know that that change which a Buddhist might also offer a similar change, a Muslim might offer a similar change, I don’t know, certainly, a Mormon will offer a similar change. But the question is, can you also make the case for the resurrection?
Understanding Good Hermeneutics
And I think you’re right, to be catechized before your baptism just meant that you understood and you were learning good hermeneutics and how do I read the Scripture? And what does the scripture really teach about these different theological principles? And I do think that’s lacking right now for a lot of people. And if you’re a way in is through an experience, don’t be surprised that when kids in college have a different, maybe even more fulfilling experience if they leave.
That’s it. That’s the whole point, because your conversion then you’re not on solid ground. It’s not strong and you can’t defend the faith when it’s question you can’t defend those things. No doubt about it. Listen, General Jerry Boykin is someone that I listened to as a friend, because even though he’s 23 years older than me, he could probably still whip me with like two fingers
I know [crosstalk 16:54]. I know exactly what you’re saying.
And he said, he said, Jim Wallace uses his cold case investigative techniques to prove the reality of the Divine. Read his book, you will not regret it. And of course, you have all kinds of testimonials and people and Kin Graves another one, you could pick me up and body slam me with two of his fingers probably. Love that, man
Lumber jack Kin Graves, for sure.
Just a lot of people that have said hey, look, this is needed in our culture. Now, you’ve got a lot more than just a book. And before we go, you were mentioning before we get on air, what you’ve got for kids now and I haven’t hadn’t seen this and so I’m so excited.
Materials for Kids
I’m looking at your website as you’re talking and this whole thing that you’re doing for the kids, this is so needed, but I don’t want to skip to that. I want to first say coldcasechristianity.com is the website. You’ve got several different sources of materials for people, whether they’re coming at this from, they’ve never been around Christianity, have no faith, know nothing about it.
Or and I think, just as important, people that you grew up in Christianity, but you don’t know how to defend it and you don’t know if you really believe this or it’s just what mom and dad believed and you adopted it, it’s a very important journey for every one of us to take and you can do it at coldcasechristianity.com, get those materials there. But then Jim, you got to tell me about the kids, because this is very exciting.
Yeah, the casemakersacademy.com. What we tried to do is take the adult books chapter by chapter and create narrative, fictional mysteries for kids that they can solve chapter by chapter and along the way, they’re going to learn all about God’s existence about Christianity and even about how to share that with their friends, three different books, three different academies. There’s videos and all kinds of downloadable, you know, activity sheets for each chapter. A lot of homeschoolers are using the material, because it’s pretty accessible.
But the idea here is that we know that, you know, you and I, I don’t know how old you are. I’m a little bit older probably than you are, because pointing to Boykin as a common kind of barometer. But I grew up, really, I think Christians probably in my generation encountered their first true objections in college, but that’s not happening now.
Now, you’re encountering your first true objections the minute mom and dad allow you to have a smartphone. And now for a lot of kids is, you know, upper, it’s like junior high age right in that range, you know. And so, that’s where we need to start so true our kids much earlier than ever before about the evidence for Christianity. So, that website at Case Makers Academy, that is geared for 8 to 12 year olds.
I love it. I love it. Casemakersacademy.com, even just looking at it, I mean the graphics, everything looks fantastic and making it fun. It’s just like what we do with history with WallBuilders, instead of it being boring, bringing it to life and you’ve got to make it fun. If you don’t entertain, you can’t educate, you’re not going to pay attention. And you’re obviously doing that with Case Makers Academy, that is critical and you’re exactly right. It’s no longer at 18-19 when you head off to college, it’s happening at 12, 13, 14 years old right there on that smartphone.
That be true.
Good stuff. Oh Jim, thank you, man. We would love to have you back and do this again. I really enjoy this.
I’ll be happy to do. Let’s do it, for sure.
Alright, J. Warner Wallace with us here. Go to casemakersacademy.com for the kiddos and then you yourself get this book Cold-Case Christianity, go to coldcasechristianity.com. There’s more there as well, but start with that one. Jim, thank you, brother. Appreciate you coming on.
Thanks for having me and I appreciate you.
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
This Precarious Moment
Hi, this is David Barton. I want to let you know about a brand new book we have out called, ‘This Precarious Moment: Six Urgent Steps that Will Save You, Your Family, and Our Country’. Jim, Garlow and I have co-authored this book. And we take six issues that are hot in the culture right now, issues that we’re dealing with, issues such as immigration and race relations and our relationship with Israel and the rising generation millennials and the absence of the church and the culture wars and where American heritage is, our godly heritage.
We look at all six of those issues right now that are under attack and we give you both biblical and historical perspective on those issues that provides solutions on what each of us can do right now to make a difference. These are all problems that are solvable if we’ll get involved. So, you can grab the book, ‘This Precarious Moment’ and find out what you can do to make a difference. ‘This Precarious Moment’ is available at wallbuilders.com.
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live, thanks for staying with us and special thanks to J. Warner Wallace for joining us as well. And we’ll have a link to the website. Telling you, just looking through their incredible look of materials especially for the kids, I’m super excited about what he has for the kids, guys.
Yeah, and again, the fact that it’s evidence-based, the fact that he has to look at it as cold evidence and based on that can come to the right conclusion and even get the bad guys when they need to. But starting kids off, not with just a faith-based or not just your experience, but with evidence- based, oh that is so important to having a strong foundation, it’s also important to be able to stand up to attacks that will come.
I’d like to say attacks won’t come. But we know the Bible says in first Timothy that, hey, if you’re godly, if you’re going to live godly, you will come under attack, you will face persecution. etc. So, that’s just standard par for the course, so why not prepare for right now? And the way you do that is by getting that intellectual apologetic base under you.
And guys, actually, during the interview, I got on Audible and found one of his books on Audible. And so, I’m excited to dive more into this, because as someone who appreciates the CS Lewis, the Ravi Zacharias, that the Josh McDowell, so many of, you know, William Lane Craig, these apologists who are so good at communicating truth and even the least, Strobel, right The Case for Christ.
These are the kind of things I genuinely enjoy, because I want to know the reason and kind of like Paul has said, right, like the reason for the hope that’s in you, you want to be able to give an account for that, you want to be able to communicate that and guys like this really help kind of fill out that suitcase, so to speak of information that you need to be able to do this.
So, I’m really excited about getting this book on Audible and listening to it and maybe we’ll have an update at some point about what’s there and in some of those great details. But it certainly is nice to know that there are guys who have a different perspective that may be just the kind of the standard pastor answer. Well, we just trusted God. We have faith in Jesus.
Well, both of those things are good and we should do both of those things. But there’s a reason we can’t have faith in God. There’s a reason we should trust in Jesus, because the evidence points to the fact that both of those are very logical and viable things to do based on evidence that supports both of those decisions.
And it’s really important to have that evidence earlier than we even think now. As George Barna has pointed out recently in last year, when he spoke to the legislators, he pointed out, look, the evidence right now is that your worldview is shaped by age 13. And so, you’re saying well, they’re not in college, I’ll prepare them for college. If you want to prepare them for college, you start in elementary school, you start with apologetics right then.
And listen, I know that testimony is a super important thing in the Christian faith. We’re told in Romans 12:11 that we overcome: one of the three things is by the word of our testimony, telling our story. We know that so many times Jesus would heal someone and say go tell others what has happened to you and people would come to Christ because of testimony. But that’s part of the story.
Personal experience can’t be the whole story. There has to be something bigger and that has to be evidence-based. I can say, you know, I petted five rattlesnakes in my life and none of them bit me. So, the whole mantra about rattlesnakes being poisonous, that’s ridiculous, because I’ve never seen that. It doesn’t matter what my experience is, you have to go with evidence. And that’s really what we need to get started and really start earlier. So, again, kids that want to go to college, you need to start apologetics way back in elementary school.
And certainly, this is not to say that experiences aren’t valid, because experiences are great things, but it’s kind of like the icing on the cake. You know, that’s not the only thing you need to substantiate what you are doing.
And I just want to offer a point of clarification, dad, you’ve never, ever even thought about attempting to pet a rattlesnake. The only thing you’ve ever done is draw a pistol and shoot one. And for all of the snake lovers out there, right, I can tell you he doesn’t even feel bad about this. He is happy to shoot all of these venomous snakes that are out there.
And so yeah, petting them is not going to be a problem. We do not endorse that. We don’t condone that. Don’t pet venomous snakes, is a bad idea. But this is where it’s certainly coming back, right, we don’t want to just base our life of faith on unexperienced or anecdotal evidence. We want to go and dig deeper to see what is the reason for the hope that we have. And there’s a lot of really good evidence out there.
Cold-Case Christianity – With J. Warner Wallace
Well, that’s it on time today, folks. Thanks for listening to WallBuilders Live. Thanks to J. Warner Wallace for joining us here on WallBuilders Live. Be sure to check out the links at our website today at wallbuilderslive.com and you can get to some of those great materials that he has on his website.
And then of course, great materials there on wallbuilderslive.com and at wallbuilders.com. You know, get into the Constitution, that’s one of the great ways to actually get truth into the culture, making sure that we’re studying our foundations, that we’re learning the truth about American history, the whole story and then teaching our young people, teaching ourselves and the people in our churches, teaching them truth, teaching them principles of liberty. You can be a part of that you can be the catalyst for sharing those things in your community, the catalyst for restoring biblical and constitutional principles.
Right there at wallbuilders.com, you can get Constitution Alive and then take that class and teach in your Sunday school, at your church or in your home, in your living room. And if you want us to coach you along on how to do that, you can go to constitutioncoach.com and sign up for free there and you’ll get access to all of our training materials as well. Get involved, folks. This is not a time to sit on the sidelines. There’s something every single citizen can do. Step up and be a part of standing for freedom and restoring America’s constitutional republic.
Thanks for listening. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!