In the last post, I wrote about J. Warner Wallace’s steps to thinking like a detective. The reason why is that anything in the past, like cold cases and historical events, all require the same skillset in forensic science. Without a time machine, we cannot empirically test the past with our senses. Break out your magnifying glass and pipe since we will look at a post J. Warner Wallace wrote titled, “Eight Steps to Investigating the Case for Christianity”. Click on the title to see his post in full. I’ll briefly list the eight steps here:
STEP #1 – Read the Book Completely
STEP #2 – Take Notes and Summarize the Case Thoroughly
STEP #3 – Gather the Evidence Neutrally
STEP #4 – Examine the Eyewitnesses Critically
STEP #5 – Reconstruct the Crime Scene (and Events) Meticulously
STEP #6 – Look for New Evidence Diligently
STEP #7 – Reason Toward An Answer Rationally (Using the steps in the previous post)
STEP #8 – Write Up the Case Carefully
It’s okay to question; Christianity holds up better than people realize. Sure I have questions remaining; who doesn’t? Yet we still make decisions every day based on limited but convincing evidence. So what are the lines of evidence that point to God being real?
- The Big Bang (Standard Cosmological Argument)
- Universal Fine-Tuning
- Everything Seems to be Designed
- The Information Written on DNA (How to make a ______)
Taken together, it points to someone being behind it all. To do all this, whoever did it had to be omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscience and personal since they chose to create anything to start with. In a nutshell, God, anything other than that has to explain how something spontaneously erupted from “no-thing”.
If we can accept that, Biblical miracles are much easier to believe are possible. We haven’t even addressed the case for the God of the Bible yet or Christianity. The case for Christianity rises and falls on the person of Jesus. The bulk of the evidence for Him is found in the Gospels. A lot is also found outside the Gospels. Here are some non-biblical sources for Jesus:
- Josephus (AD37-unknown)
- Thallus (AD5-60)
- Tacitus (AD56-117)
- Maren Bar-Serapion (AD70-unknown)
- Phlegon (AD80-140)
- The Talmud
Collectively, they all point to a Jesus that lived in Judea. He was virtuous, worked wonders, predicted the future, was considered a wise king of the Jews, was accused by the Jewish leaders, and was crucified by Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. On the day he was crucified, there was a darkness, and an earthquake. He reportedly rose from the dead, was believed to be the Jewish Messiah, was called Christ, his followers were called Christians, who were ‘spreading a superstition that wouldn’t go away’.
Why didn’t it go away? Evidence points that he lived and was crucified. Almost all scholars —skeptical and Christian—accept these two facts. Those are the first two pieces of evidence that Gary Habermas documented in The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus with Michael Licona. The third widely accepted piece of evidence is the empty tomb. To disprove that would have been as simple as producing his corpse.
The final piece of widely accepted evidence is the disciples changed lives. They ran when Jesus was captured and killed. So why did they stand up to the same leaders who had Him killed and tell them he lived? Why didn’t the leaders produce the corpse to shut them down? Because they saw him alive days after he was killed. They preached that he lived until they were killed for it. Would you die for a known lie?
In addition to the continuing testimony of changed lives, this makes for a powerful argument. It does take doing your homework though. I found that as I study theology and apologetics that the quibbles raised are either minor or misunderstandings. Here are three great starting points if you are curious to continue your investigation. The first one is free; Evidence for the Historical Jesus found at http://www.garyhabermas.com/Evidence/index.htm. The other two are Cold-Case Christianity and I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. I will also include a list of sites I frequent at the end of this post.
I do not expect this post to make you drop to your knees and give your life to Jesus. I just want it to make you think. Can you provide an answer for why or why don’t you believe?