Here’s a summary of an enjoyable interview with Homicide Detective J. Warner Wallace, who appeared on The Babylon Bee Podcast. The Bee is a satirical site that sheds light on important truths in a humorous way, and the interview was hosted by editors Kyle Mann and Joel Berry.
Detective Wallace’s story isn’t new. If you’re familiar with Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel and C.S. Lewis, all were staunch atheists who ridiculed Christians, Christianity and religion. And in an effort to disprove Jesus and the resurrection, they went on personal crusades, conducting meticulous research, reading books, sometimes traveling and interviewing people, all for a secular cause. But in the end, each came away transformed into new believers, persuaded that Jesus really was who he claimed to be- the God of the universe, and these men have gone on to be bold in proclaiming their faith, despite the opposition.
In the case of Wallace, he used his detective skills to discover the truth about Jesus and his claims. The same investigative techniques he used to solve cold cases, he employed to find out what was so special about Jesus. Even if one has never read the New Testament, spoken to an eye-witness, examined the dead body of Christ or the crime scene, Wallace demonstrates it’s still possible to solve the mystery of Jesus, just as he would in a cold case.
As a detective, Wallace had decades-old murder cases dumped on his desk, and in order to solve them, he had to resort to certain investigative strategies, such as “fuse and fallout”. Consider a bomb with a long fuse; it burns to the point of detonation. Then, when the bomb explodes, there’s all kinds of shrapnel and debris left behind. Wallace claims he can make a case from the fuse and fallout and tell us exactly what happened that day, and that’s because there’s a timeline he can follow. He can tell that something was building up to the event. The attacker was preparing for the crime, putting everything in place, including a weapon. Then, once the crime has been completed, the criminal’s demeanor changes. It doesn’t matter that the body was never found, or if the eye-witnesses are dead or too old to remember anything, or if the crime scene is long gone. A good detective can still get a conviction based on the fuse and fallout.
It’s noteworthy that Wallace was a lifelong atheist and wanted nothing to do with Christianity. He didn’t know any Christians growing up, but when he met fellow detectives who were Christians, he said they couldn’t defend their faith, so he mocked them. Even his wife showed no interest in Christianity. But after 18 years of marriage, his wife suddenly decided she wanted to go to church, so they visited one. And when he heard the pastor say that Jesus was the smartest man who ever lived, Wallace decided he had to investigate that claim.
After buying a Bible, Wallace studied the words of Jesus and figured Buddha could have made some of the statements. But what he began to notice as he read through the gospels was variation. There were differences in the number of angels or women at the tomb, or what the sign on the cross said. What he realized was that these differences were within the range he’d expect from eye-witnesses. As a detective, he knew that eye-witnesses never agree. If the gospels were made-up, the writers would have colluded to get their stories right. It was this template he used to test the veracity of Scripture.
Wallace explains that the impact Jesus has had on history is like no other person- real or fictional. Human history and culture has effectively repeated much of what we know from Scripture. No person has been written about, painted, sculpted, etched or drawn more than Jesus. It’s possible, he says, to reconstruct Jesus’ life story from the earliest literature. Even the founding fathers of science wrote extensively about him in their letters and other writings.
Based on the impact Jesus has had on history, Wallace says we can infer that Jesus was not only a real, historical person, but also more than a mortal human. Wallace says, “He’s the God of all creation who enters into his creation.” Amen!
This was a fun interview to watch, so check it out if you have time, or look for his books:
Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible
Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels.