Wallace was a self-described “angry” atheist until his mid thirties. After visiting Saddleback Church, he decided to use the Forensic Statement Analysis (FSA) to investigate the gospel of Mark. If the FSA works for suspects and witnesses, Wallace thought, why not for the Gospel of Mark? He had become a bona fide expert at judging the veracity of a statement through examining the author’s use of language. Within a month of studying Mark’s Gospel, Wallace concluded it was an eyewitness account of the apostle Peter. This was the beginning of his conversion to Christianity.
People have utilized law, journalism, history, medicine, and many other disciplines to examine the Christian faith. But as far as I know, this is the first time a cold case detective has put his expertise to the task. And it’s long overdue!
A few things struck me as I read Cold Case Christianity.
First, Wallace is gifted at breaking difficult truths down to the level of the “lay person.” There are many great apologetic books on the market, but there is still a huge need for apologetics to be translated to the masses. Wallace has done a terrific job of translating tough apologetic issues—such as abductive reasoning, examining eyewitness testimony, and the arguments for God’s existence—in a way that they can be both understood and remembered.
Second, Cold Case Christianity takes a fresh look at the evidence. Those of us trained in apologetics will recognize many of the arguments and insights that Wallace makes. But what we will find refreshing is the personal applications and insights he brings from years of cross-examining witnesses, evaluating circumstantial evidence, and researching a case. I found myself frequently saying, “That makes perfect sense. I wish I had thought of that!”
One of the chapters I found most helpful was on the death of the apostles. We’ve all heard the argument that the disciples would not have willingly died as martyrs if they knew Jesus had not risen from the dead, so therefore we can trust their testimony as sincere. But rarely does anyone provide the evidence for how we know this is true (side note: I am doing my PhD dissertation on this very topic). Wallace points out three broad motives lying behind misbehavior: financial gain, sex or relationships, and the pursuit of power. And yet the disciples had none of these (this is very different than, say, Joseph Smith Jr.). They had no motive to lie or deceive other than really believing it was true.
Third, the book has very cool graphics. We undoubtedly live in an image-based society. People, and especially young people, often learn more by pictures than words. While Wallace’s book has plenty of words, he peppers the book with high quality hand-drawn illustrations that make the examples come alive. This is why I think his book will be great for the classroom, Sunday schools, and small groups.
I do have to admit that detective Wallace is a friend of mine. In fact, in the opening pages he gives me (as well as many others) special thanks for encouraging him to write the book. I’m humbled by the recognition. Yet I can honestly say that I would be just as enthusiastic about Cold Case Christianity if I had never met the author before. I truly believe that this book is great for challenging non-believers (remember: Wallace was an atheist until 35) as well as equipping believers. Apologetic aficionados will gain some new insights and novices will have their eyes opened to the compelling evidence.
If you want to be equipped for your faith, and on top of the latest trends in apologetics, you can pre-order a copy of Cold Case Christianity now. I highly recommend it.