Rapid Response: “The Gospels Are Unreliable”
by J Warner Wallace
In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone made the following claim: “Even if the events recorded in the Gospels came from eyewitness accounts, why should we trust what eyewitnesses tell us? Even modern-day witnesses are notoriously unreliable and are often wrong about what they claim to have seen. Why should we trust ancient eyewitness accounts?” How would you respond to such an objection? Here is a conversational example of how I recently replied:
“A lot has been written recently about the untrustworthy nature of eyewitness testimony. In fact, some skeptics (like Bart Ehrman) have written about this and challenged the reliability of the Gospels. I actually have similar concerns about eyewitnesses and have learned the hard way to be skeptical. In fact, I never immediately trust an eyewitness when he or she comes to me with a statement. Instead of routinely trusting witnesses, I test them. If they pass the test, however, I trust what they’re telling me.
There’s an investigative template we apply to witnesses to determine if they’re reliable. It’s described in the instructions that judges offer juries in criminal trials. Jurors are given a list of mental questions they can ask themselves when evaluating witnesses. In California, there are over a dozen such questions jurors must consider before deciding if a witness is reliable. I’ve grouped and summarized these questions to make them easier to understand…
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