Is the Cold-Case Christianity Approach a Gimmick Or A Valuable Filter?
by J Warner Wallace
I was humbled to have the opportunity to teach my first class at Biola last week. Seventy-four graduate students and seminar attendees were present for seventeen hours of instruction over two days. They were attentive, eager and accepting. I am definitely not your typical university professor (although I have two graduate degrees), but I hoped to provide these students with valuable new skills. I am the author of a popular level book aimed at laypeople. As a result, many serious students of apologetics were hesitant to read Cold-Case Christianity because they suspected it was little more than a gimmick; an effort to spin the same old material from yet another superficial angle.
I really hadn’t anticipated this reaction prior to the publication of the book. Many people I respect had already endorsed the work (and even had a hand in its editing). People like Craig Hazen, J.P. Moreland and Paul Copan were incredibly helpful and instructive. I hoped the book would offer several new skills, and I wanted to show how these sills could be applied to the case for Christianity. Once people actually read the book and started to examine the approach I offered, some of their initial skepticism subsided.
After teaching the Biola course this weekend, I received an email from one of the students. He told me he was nearly finished with his Master of Arts in Science and Religion. He took the class as one of his electives and expressed the same initial hesitancy I’ve described related to Cold-Case Christianity. But after taking the class, he offered the following perspective:
“…after hearing you speak and seeing how you interacted with my numerous questions and objections, I have a much better appreciation for what you’re saying. It now occurs to me the CCC approach is not a gimmick to recycle apologetics and spin it in a new way (which is kind of what I thought, initially). Instead, you really do filter life through a ‘cold case grid’ that allows you to arrive at conclusions that are well supported by the data; you are not saying that a CC approach ‘proves’ things in some previously unknown way, but that such an approach is a fruitful lens through which we can ’test the spirits’ that we encounter in pretty much every aspect of our lives.”
It’s gratifying to see people embrace an evidential filter through which they can begin to rethink their approach to Christian Case Making. That’s why I wrote the book in the first place. I don’t think it was an accident I first became interested in thoroughly investigating the reliability of the New Testament Gospels after I had been working homicides and criminal investigations for many years. By the time I began to pencil out the facts related to the claims of the Gospel eyewitnesses I was already familiar with the principles I described in Cold-Case Christianity. I believe these simple strategies provide a number of benefits…