J. Warner Wallace has lived quite a life, getting paid to do a job that seems ripped straight from a primetime television script. He is a cold-case detective, charged with solving the homicides left unsolved for years. This involves rigorous detective skills, observing every minute and insignificant clue, and following all the evidence to the most reasonable conclusion.
In Cold-Case Christianity, Wallace turns his years of cold-case detective experience towards the New Testament. Specifically, he seeks to uncover and evaluate the claims of the Gospel writers concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Really, this book can be seen as three narratives woven together. First, Wallace recounts several of his cold-case homicides, giving the reader a glimpse into how he successfully investigates a case years after it happened. Many of these anecdotes are compelling, and I can imagine the author has enough additional stories to have written an entire book on just these.
The second narrative found in this book is Wallace’s own journey from an “angry atheist” (16) to belief in Jesus Christ. As part of this journey, God brought him to a place where he decided to read and evaluate the Gospels for himself. When he read them, he was shocked:
Something about the Gospels struck me as more than mythological storytelling. The Gospels actually appeared to be ancient eyewitness accounts. (16).
As he continued to study and understand the claims of the Bible concerning Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit worked in his life, bringing him into a saving relationship with Christ.
The final—and central—narrative of this book is to examine the claims of the Gospel accounts. Like in his own journey, Wallace guides readers to look at the claims through the eyes of detectives. He provides important principles every detective uses to solve cases, then shows how each principle can be used to evaluate the Gospels. Seeking to answer the most common objections to the claims of the Gospels, he provides a compelling defense of these biblical books.
Wallace is thorough in his evaluation of the New Testament. He asks four questions of the NT authors:
- Were they present (are the accounts written by eyewitnesses)?
- Were they corroborated (do the accounts agree)?
- Were they accurate (are the accounts reliable)?
- Were they biased (are they accounts written to gain power)?
In answering these questions, Wallace takes readers on an extensive yet accessible journey through early church history, including discussions on transmission of the text, textual criticism, archaeology, and the line of apostolic succession. Readers of all types—from skeptics to new believers to seminary graduates—will learn something new from these discussions.
Wallace is able to weave all three narratives into a gripping read. Cold-Case Christianity is fun to read, engaging, and yet provides a thorough defense of the New Testament. This is a book I will recommend to students and skeptics alike, in hopes of providing an accessible apologetic of the New Testament.
- Title: Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels
- Author: J. Warner Wallace
- Publisher: David C. Cook (2013)
- Format: Kindle
- My Review: 5/5