The Evidentialist

How a Cold-Case Atheist Detective Became a Case-Making Christian

by Terrell Clemmons

I think it may be true,” Jim Wallace said to his wife Susie. He was lying in bed, staring at the ceiling.

“What may be true?”

“Christianity.” Why did she need to ask? He’d been obsessed with the subject for several weeks now, talking her ears off on multiple occasions. It had all started at Saddleback Church during an otherwise normal Sunday morning service. A friend, a fellow police officer, had been inviting him for months, and he’d finally acquiesced. Susie liked the family to attend church, and although Jim had no use for religion, he loved his wife deeply and placed a very high priority on marriage and family. As for church, he didn’t get it, but he was fine going along for her sake.

Jim managed to ignore most of the sermon, but his ears did perk up when Pastor Rick Warren mentioned some wise principles Jesus taught that could be applied today. He’d described Jesus as “the smartest man who ever lived.” This guy Jesus might have some information I could use workwise, Jim thought. He’d always been open to learning from any ancient sage whose wisdom had stood the test of time. So the following week he dropped $6.00 on a Bible at B. Dalton bookstore and leafed straight to the New Testament Gospels. He wasn’t interested in anything but the red letters. What did Jesus say?

As Jim read, though, he was soon struck by something else. By this time in his career as a police officer and crime investigator, he had interviewed hundreds if not thousands of eyewitnesses and suspects and had read countless written testimonies. The Gospel accounts, he was surprised to note, bore a striking resemblance, not to the mythology or moralistic storytelling he’d always believed them to be, but to actual eyewitness accounts, something with which he was intimately familiar. His investigator’s curiosity was piqued.

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Opening an Investigation

Since he’d shown a knack for interviewing early in his career, Jim had received special training in a variety of investigative techniques. One of them, a methodology called Forensic Statement Analysis (FSA), was especially designed to scrutinize eyewitness testimonies to detect deception and other manner of falsification. Wow, Jim thought, wouldn’t it be cool to try to apply this discipline I do at work to one of the Gospels?

He was in his element now. He started with the Gospel of Mark. For a full month, he meticulously picked it apart, hanging on every word, and in spite of deep skepticism going in, ultimately came to the conclusion that the Gospel writer Mark had penned the eyewitness account of the Apostle Peter, exactly what traditional Christianity has held all along. Pressing on, he subsequently reached the conclusion that the other three Gospels also gave every appearance of being exactly what they purported to be—authentic, eyewitness accounts written by men who genuinely believed what they were writing…

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The Evidentialist by Terrell Clemmons



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