Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts
Worldview of Jesus
I recently had the genuine privilege of attending a lecture at Ohio State University hosted by Ratio Christi where J Warner Wallace gave a lecture titled “The Bible on Trial”. Personally, I have been blessed enough to become personally acquainted with J Warner Wallace by attending Cross Examined Instructors Academy (CIA) in August 2013 where he was one of the instructors. Coincidentally, Jim and I stayed at the same hotel along with multiple other CIA students while attending CIA in North Carolina at Southern Evangelical Seminary. Since we were all staying at the same hotel, it seemed to make sense that we all meet for breakfast. We were all tremendously excited to partake in a meal with Jim and talk about apologetics. With all of us having read Cold-Case Christianity, we knew of Jim’s cold-case investigative background and were fascinated by his unique outlook and evidential approach to the Christian faith. We, as novice apologists by comparison, were eating up every moment we had with Jim in the morning. From my perspective, what serves as the most powerful tool in Jim’s bag is his natural ability to develop and persuasively communicate a cumulative case for the historicity of the Bible. This is what he calls, “death by a thousand paper cuts”. Meaning that after so many pieces of circumstantial evidences are gathered, one cannot escape reaching the conclusion that Jesus is a historical person and that he was who he said he was.
The phrase “death by a thousand paper cuts” is one that has stuck with me since I heard it. This approach is not solely unique to J Warner Wallace even though Jim is among the best implementers of it. You can see this approach illustrated among the best Christian thinkers of our time. For those that make a solid case for Christianity, they use multiple arguments to make their cumulative case as to provide a more impactful effect on those they intend to persuade. For example, if an atheist wants to convert me from my Christianity to atheism, he will need a very strong cumulative case that refutes all of my presently held beliefs that persuade me that Christianity is true. Obviously, one argument is not going to dissuade me from believing in evidence for Christianity such as objective morality, fine-tuning of the universe, and the resurrection of Christ. An atheist would need multiple arguments to build a compelling cumulative case as to why I should consider atheism as a more reasonable explanation of reality than Christian theism. The same is true for the Christians who want to convince unbelievers of the truth claims of Christianity.
Given the ‘death by a thousand paper cuts’ approach, what are the most effective arguments for the existence of Christian theism that will help build up a solid case for the Christian worldview in the face of skeptics in a way that shows the perfect alignment that Christianity has with reality? While there are dozens of arguments for the existence of Christian theism, there are some that pack more punch than others. The prominent Christian philosopher William Lane Craig uses many of the same arguments in most of his debates on the existence of God for a good reason. That reason is because they are effective and that skeptics have never replied in a manner that served as a reasonable refutation of these arguments.
The arguments that are put forward by Christian apologists encompass theology, philosophy, science, and history. A proficiency in all of these areas will assist in one’s capabilities as an effective apologist. As J Warner Wallace likes to put it, we need to strive towards being a competent ‘One Dollar Apologist’. This phrase was not meant to imply that we should sell ourselves short and not make an attempt to be the best case-makers we can be. Being a ‘One Dollar Apologist’ essentially implies that everyone is not destined to be the next William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, John Lennox, Frank Turek, Josh McDowell, and the like. It is not realistic to think that all of us will get our doctorate in philosophy or theology and publish mainstream literature and influence an entire culture. However, a One Dollar apologist can make a significant difference within his or her own scope. A One Dollar apologist can be just as effective within our own sphere of influence if we are prepared to do so. It is true that we can occasionally reach unbelievers in a way that the bigger names in apologetics cannot because of our specific placement in an unbeliever’s life. We have the ability to develop personal relationships and show direct love to people in a way that is not possible for the ‘Million Dollar’ apologist! Basically, be proud to be a One Dollar Apologist!
All apologists from all backgrounds need to know which arguments to be fluent in if they are ever in a position to make the case for their Christian faith to a skeptic. I will list what arguments I feel are absolutely necessary to be familiar with for a strong cumulative case. Think of it as your ‘Essentials Kit’ for Christian apologetics and these arguments will serve as the foundation for making a sound cumulative apologetic for Christianity. I will provide a brief summary of the argument and follow it up with a informative video of the argument that will describe it in more detail…
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