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Focus on the Family Broadcast

The Proof You Need to Believe in Jesus Christ (Part 1 of 2)

The Proof You Need to Believe in Jesus Christ (Part 1 of 2)

During his more than 20 years as a homicide detective, J. Warner Wallace successfully helped identify and convict killers, even without evidence from the scene. He utilizes these same detective skills and techniques to investigate the historical life and actions of Jesus – using the evidence of history alone to confirm the historicity and deity of Jesus. In this interview, Wallace discusses his faith journey and his fascinating detective research proving the claims and historical authenticity of Jesus. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: July 6, 2022

John Fuller:
Try to imagine this situation. You’re the lead detective on a really important case. You’re looking for clues to determine who, what, where, when, and why a crime has been committed. But the challenge is there’s no evidence. Or is there? Today on Focus on the Family, we’re doing an investigation about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who appeared in human form on this planet more than 2,000 years ago. What is the evidence for Him? Well, for His claims? Uh, you’ll find out. Thanks for joining us today. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.
End of Preview
Jim Daly: And John, I’m really excited to talk to our guest. I can remember I made that commitment to Christ at 15, and I wobbled along, parents be encouraged, uh, you know, that 15-year-old will continue to grow and develop. It was probably about 20, when I was in a, uh, college, sitting in my business classes, learning about economics, and advertising, and marketing, and all those things, and I just unplugged, and I thought I have got to read the Bible all the way through. And I just remember the Lord putting that on my heart, just the appetite to say, let’s read it. When you think about it, it’s great to go to school. It’s great to go to college, but if you haven’t read the Bible, the Word, and decided for yourself, is Jesus real, is He who He said He was? You kind of missed the most important class of your life.
John: Hmm.
Jim: So, I wanna encourage you, if you’re kind of on the fence, and you don’t know, or you have doubts, maybe you made a commitment, it was a long time ago, um, dig in today, because I think our guest is gonna deliver some great perspectives, given his background.
John: Yeah, and J. Warner Wallace has been involved in law enforcement for more than 25 years. He’s a homicide detective, always focused on the facts.
Jim: In fact, John, he described himself as an actively sarcastic skeptic about God-
John: Hmm.
Jim: … faith and the Bible. I love that perspective. Again, somebody who ha an honest approach to saying, prove it, and, uh, we’re gonna get to that today. Uh, Jim, it’s great to have you here.
J. Warner Wallace: Well, thanks for having me. Yeah, be- being sarcastic, and skeptical-
Jim: (laughs)
J. Warner: … is really helpful as a- as a homicide detective, in general, right, so-
Jim: And this isn’t what I was gonna ask you, but how has the Lord dealt with your sarcasm?
J. Warner: Oh.
Jim: (laughs)
J. Warner: So- so- so, if you assume up front that everyone, you’re talking to is a liar-
Jim: (laughs)
J. Warner: … somebody will eventually go to jail. But if you- if you assume everyone’s telling you the truth, no one ever goes to jail. So, I’m trying to balance what works and what’s effective based on- and then also what- what God would call me to be. You know, so, it’s hard-
Jim: You know, this is totally off topic, but given all your years in detective work, I mean, what are those things that you see about human behavior that kind of- you make- makes you scratch your head, like-
J. Warner: Well-
Jim: … they really thought they’d get away with this?
J. Warner: Yeah. Well, see, a lot of it is-
Jim: (laughs)
J. Warner: … you know, we don’t think really rationally when we think about doing things that are irrational.
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: Like- like- like killing your spouse. So- so, a lot of times, you’re driven by your emotions, and that’s where we can kind of make some headway.
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: Right? Because there- sometimes, we overthink it. We’re thinking, “Well, look, if- if I was doing this, I might do these five things first, because we’re thinking as though we’re not in the middle of an emotional relationship that is driven by emotion. We’re trying to think about irrationally and coolly. But it turns out, most of the time, um- but here’s what I do see. Pretty much everything that I see in human behavior is explained really well on the pages of the New Testament.
Jim: Oh, that’s interesting.
J. Warner: So, uh, I love the fact that the Bible describes the world the way that it really is, and I’ll be sometimes working with defense attorneys who- who- they’re so convinced that there’s no way that their defendant, and they’re truly convinced the defendant could not do this, because for the last 30 years, I worked cold cases. This guys has been a deacon in a church. He’s been, you know, he’s with- he’s a dentist. He- he-
Jim: (laughs)
J. Warner: … he’s a fireman. He’s a- you know, he’s a ki- city counsel person. He’s just got a regular life.
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: And because they don’t understand the enigma of man, you know, the kind of fallen nature, designed in God’s image, but deeply rebellious, they don’t understand that dichotomy. They struggle with s- understanding how someone like this-
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: … could do something like that.
Jim: Hmm. Well, you know- and you know what’s interesting too, uh, so much of the culture right now is debating what’s true, that there can’t really be an absolute truth.
J. Warner: Hmm.
Jim: But my goodness, where do you see that show up? In police work.
J. Warner: Oh, absolutely.
Jim: I mean, you either did it or you didn’t do it, and that’s absolute truth.
J. Warner: Well, I always wonder is this shift, uh, from objective claims about truth to subjective claims about truth, is this going to eventually affect us in the courtroom, and I’ve been watching-
Jim: Wow, that’s interesting.
J. Warner: … court cases-
Jim: So, you see that evolution now. Yeah.
J. Warner: Yeah, because we’re- we’re selecting jurors, and I think our questions in the voir dire process are gonna u- they’ll always have kind of covered these issues-
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: … but I think more and more, to be able to make- to make sure that the jurors we’re selecting actually understand that some things are more than a matter of opinion, even the claim that there is no objective truth isn’t a claim about-
Jim: Mm-hmm.
J. Warner: It’s subjective.
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: So, it’s- it’s self-refuting. So, we have to at least help and only select the jurors that understand this, right, ’cause otherwise, how would you render a- a decision about something that happened in the past, that your opinion can’t change. E- either it happened, or it didn’t happen.
Jim: Right. (laughs)
J. Warner: And that’s why this is the approach I took-
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: … when I first was looking at Scripture.
Jim: Which is so good. Uh, let- let’s get some of the terminology down. Y- not all of us are familiar with police detective work. So, for example, you- you mentioned that you’re a homicide detective, but you specialize in solving cold case, nobody murders. Now, honestly, that’s the first time I’ve heard that. Uh, describe a nobody murder.
J. Warner: So, I know-
Jim: I think I get it. (laughs)
J. Warner: Yeah. So, a nobody murder, uh, often, these will go cold because they’re first, uh, reported as a missing persons case. You know-
Jim: Okay.
J. Warner: … so this is, like, where a husband or a business associate, usually, though, it’s a husband or a s- a wife who kills their spouse, and then somehow, effectively destroys the body, and then says, “Oh, yeah, we had an argument and they just vanished.” And so, you- you never find the body. So- so- so, now, you got-
Jim: So, you don’t have a body, maybe not even a murder weapon.
J. Warner: Well, exactly.
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: You don’t know- and sometimes they’re clever enough to wait three days, and then they’ll walk in, like, in our station, they can walk into the front desk.
Jim: Hmm.
J. Warner: So, now- you’re not even calling a police officer to the location. You’re walking into the front counter. You’re filing a missing person’s report. Two days later, it’s assigned to a detective. Now, we’re a week behind this thing.
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: And you had a week to clean the house, to do whatever you want to do-
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: … and this makes it a lot harder to solve. And if you never find the body, you have the bigger challenge of, number one, demonstrating to a jury that this is a murder and not a true missing.
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: And then, number two, demonstrating that this is the guy who did the murder. So, you have to- and a lot of DAs just don’t wanna touch these because they are difficult, ’cause there are two things you’re trying to prove.
Jim: And the cold case is a case that you just- hasn’t been resolved. It could be years, 10 years, 20 years, some we’re hearing in the media, now, are 30, 40-year-old cases are being solved with DNA improving.
J. Warner: Well- and so the- every crime has a statute of limitations, except for murder. So, if you do a robbery and a number of years go by, I can’t go back and reinvestigate that, ’cause it closes by statute.
Jim: Huh.
J. Warner: But murders don’t close.
Jim: They stay.
J. Warner: They stay open. And so, uh, my cases are, like, um, we just did a case two years ago. It was, um, 1972. I remember the case. My dad had the case.
Jim: Mm-hmm.
J. Warner: He was a homicide detective also, and he- I remember, I was about 10 when this 10-year-old went missing.
Jim: Huh.
J. Warner: And, uh, it- it shook our community, and my dad was kind of paranoid (laughs) about it.
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: You know, because, you know, for his own kids. And so, I remember the case, and we didn’t sol- well, I think I opened it in 2003. I think I found the DNA in 2006 or 7. We submitted it right away. It had no hit on the s- kind of predator database we have in California. And then, uh, luckily, uh, Ancestry DNA started to emerge-
Jim: It’s helping to solve some problems, isn’t it?
J. Warner: It’s solving some- that’s why I always thank people for r-
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: … searching for their family members with DNA because it eventually means I can take some of your family members to jail.
Jim: (laughs) Right. Hopefully not, but who knows? You never know.
J. Warner: So, yes, but that does- it does- it does help.
Jim: Describe person of interest. That’s another term. I think I know what that means but help us all better understand that legal term.
J. Warner: Yeah. So, uh, this is really something that I think emerged more after 9/11. You started to see a lot of it with the federal agencies looking at persons of interest in certain kinds of investigations. Almost always, this ends up being somebody who you suspect is your candidate for the crime, but you just don’t want to necessarily put the word suspect on them yet. But it could also be a witness. Maybe you’re looking for s- we- we have no leads at all yet, but we did hear that there was somebody standing over here. That’s a person of interest to us. We want to be able to interview that person. So, it can sometimes be a witness-
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: … but it just means that y- it’s somebody who is another domino that’s important to tip over in a series of dominoes leading to an arrest.
Jim: Yeah. In- in that regard, you used a methodology that you’re trained in as a detective, fuse and fallout.
J. Warner: Right.
Jim: So, describe that and how you applied that to this pursuit of is Jesus who He said He was.
J. Warner: R- yeah. So, it- this is kind of, like, timelining, uh, optimal timeline different things to see. You know, uh, is this guy ava- was he in town when this crime occurred? (laughs) You know, you’re- you’re putting things in place in a timeline, but when we’re in front of juries, this is where your weird background comes into play. So, I was- my dad was a detective, but I didn’t think I would be a detective. I- I thought I would be an artist or an architect. And so, I got my Bachelor’s degree in design, and I got my Master’s degree in architecture at UCLA, and I was working in Santa Monica when I decided to leave that and work in my dad’s profession.
J. Warner: But when I got to doing jury trials, uh, that kind of approach, that visual approach to making claims, kind of came back up. And so, I know I needed to show timelines to jurors. So, I just envisioned the missing on the day of the missing persons, if this is a murder, that’s a bomb that exploded. Uh, uh, angry- he was angry. He did something he shouldn’t do. But every bomb has a fuse that burns towards the explosion, and after the explosion, there’s fallout everywhere-
Jim: Ah.
J. Warner: … all over the blast radius. So, what we do in front of a jury is we visualize this fuse. This is all the tension that’s rising in the relationship-
Jim: Over days, weeks, months.
J. Warner: This is- yeah. He’s preparing to do something he shouldn’t do. He’s buying the stuff he’s gonna use to kill her or dispose of her. You know, this is stuff you do before a crime.
Jim: Mm-hmm.
J. Warner: And then the day happens, and then you’ve got all of this activity afterwards. This is the blast radius, the fallout. That kind of gives you away, because, you know, people don’t do this- you’re destroying your wife’s property, like you think she’s never coming back. Well, wait, if she’s just run off, why would you destroy her property? Unless you know she’s not coming back.
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: So, you kind of do things that tip the hat. And so, that’s what we’re doing here in front of a jury. It’s fuse and fallout. Fuse and fallout. So, what I’ve envisioned here is if there was no New Testament, no evidence in a crime scene. If I don’t trust anything the New Testament tells me about Jesus, is there enough evidence in the fuse and fallout of history to show me what happened in the first century, even if I had nothing from the crime scene, if I had nothing-
Jim: Hmm.
J. Warner: … from the New Testament? Now, I, of course, I think that all the information about Jesus has to come from the New Testament, but I’m just taking an approach that should reflect what’s in the New Testament, if Jesus is who He said He was.
Jim: Now, let me ask-
J. Warner: Mm-hmm.
Jim: … this question, ’cause some are probably thinking it. Why did you even come up with this idea? I mean, what was happening that you said, “Huh, I wonder if I apply my detective skills to something that happened 2,000 years ago, if it would work?”
J. Warner: Well-
Jim: I mean, what- what was the motivation?
J. Warner: Well, we got to this church, uh, you know, my- my wife thought, “Well, we’ve got kids now and they’re, you know, like, six and eight, or it’s five and seven. Should we raise them in the church?” And I thought, hmm, yeah, no. I mean, I- I wasn’t raised in the church. Uh-
Jim: And I turned out pretty well.
J. Warner: Yeah.
Jim: (laughs)
J. Warner: Of course. We always think that, right.
Jim: I can- I can hear it.
J. Warner: Oh, yeah. You know I was gonna say- I’m gonna say that, for sure.
Jim: (laughs)
J. Warner: But- but- so, I thought I don’t really have a desire to- but I love my wife, and if you want to raise the kids in the church, and she was kind of a cultural Catholic-
Jim: Uh-huh.
J. Warner: … growing up. We didn’t own a Bible and she never read a Bible, never read a New Testament. We didn’t understand what the Gospel was. That wasn’t part of our life. We- you never really heard it said that way. Um, but we go to this church. Uh, she nagged me about it for about three years.
Jim: Good for her.
J. Warner: Good for her. Yeah.
Jim: (laughs)
J. Warner: Actually, Susie’s the reason- God has used Susie in my life in a way that I can’t even explain. So, without her, I- we’d be nowhere. But- so, she convinced me to go. And so, I sat in church and- and the pastor said that Jesus was the s- he said a lot of things, but the thing that stuck with me, ’cause I wasn’t really interested in any of the other things.
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: But she- he said that Jesus was the the smartest man who ever lived. And so, I thought, well, what’s so smart about Him? So, I did buy a Bible. I bought a few Bibles, and I just wanted to read what Jesus had to say, not expec- really expecting it to be more like Proverbs.
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: Just, like, wisdom statements.
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: Not so much a narrative about- from people who want me to believe that this sequence of events occurred in this order-
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: … occurred in this location at some point in history. Well, what is this? This is like supplemental reports in a cold case. I mean, I don’t have access-
Jim: Interesting.
J. Warner: … in cold cases. I don’t have access to the witnesses anymore. They’re dead.
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: I don’t often have access to the report writers, because those detectives are passed away.
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: I mean, I got a case from 1972. I mean, everyone was dead before I got there. When we actually solved that case, our suspect had been dead for 15 years.
Jim: Wow.
J. Warner: So, this is an old case. So, the question then becomes, well, how do you- how do you manage these cases?
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: How do you- how do you investigate these old cases?
Jim: Well, so, apply that, uh, you know, the fuse and fallout, for example, apply that- what you learned in detective work to Jesus. How did you apply that?
J. Warner: Well, so, I thought, okay, I’m gonna do both an inside-out and outside-in ap- approach. And so, I did an o- an inside-out approach. You know, how do we know that the Gospels are telling us something reliable? And I’ve written about that in a book cold Cold Case Christianity.
Jim: Mm-hmm.
J. Warner: That really is just applying the template for reliable eyewitnesses-
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: … that we offer to jurors and applying that to the Gospel authors. And that showed me a lot, but I also thought, well, look, if Jesus is who you all think He is, are you really telling me that the only people who noticed this are four writers in the first century? I mean, wouldn’t you expect that if He’s the rock you think He is, when you throw Him into the pond, that there’d be some ripples, wouldn’t there?
Jim: Mm-hmm. Right.
J. Warner: I mean, I should be able to see this in the fallout of history.
Jim: Okay.
J. Warner: But having never been taught that, really, I didn’t know what the e- impact of Jesus was in history. Um, I think this is true for a lot of young people. As a matter of fact, I think it’s really important right now for us to teach our young people, well, how important Jes- I- look, I think there’s two questions that every young person asks now. So, for everyone what claim we make, we have to offer the two whys. So, I always say you have to give two whys for every what to Gen Z. And the first why is, okay, so, you’re making this claim about Jesus. Well, why do you think that’s true?
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: On the basis of what evidence do you- ’cause, you know, everybody else is gonna say that their claim is grounded in science, it’s grounded in evidence, and you Christians have your wishful thinking. Uh, good for you, but that’s not good for me. So, I want to know why is this true. And the second why is why should I care? Even if it is true, why should I care?
Jim: Yeah. (laughs)
J. Warner: So, I think- what I really wanted to know is does this matter? Even if this is true, does this matter?
Jim: I’m ready to answer that question.
J. Warner: All right.
Jim: I’m telling you what.
J. Warner: Okay.
Jim: That’s the question.
J. Warner: It i- why-
Jim: Yeah, why does it matter?
J. Warner: Oh, yeah.
Jim: Ooh, that’s a big one.
J. Warner: Well, I think- all right- right now, I think the Gen Z, for a matter of fact, are not- are less concerned about what Jeff Myers of Summit Ministries, here in Colorado Springs, brings. You know, he- we had talked- we were talking about this. I think that young people are more concerned about the go- no- not the Godiness of God. Does this God exist? But the goodness of God.
Jim: Mm-hmm.
J. Warner: Does this book, this iron age book you folks always t- you know, the- is the source of all misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, you name every phobia you can think of, is this still good? Does this matter anymore? Does anything good emerge from this? Does anything beautiful-
Jim: Hmm.
J. Warner: … emerge from this? Well, those are the kinds of questions I had too. And so, this is what the outside-in will tell you, because if the outcome- if the impact of Jesus is evil, then why would you want to examine it? And you could make claims about, uh, say, for example, Nazism. Do I care? If it’s ugly to begin with, why- why would I- stop making your case. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me.
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: But if this is something that’s- is the source of all beauty, well, then, it might matter. You know?
Jim: Well, and one of the key things, there, is be cautious of what people label.
J. Warner: That’s right.
Jim: Like, you know, it doesn’t mean it’s Christianity because somebody says it is.
J. Warner: That’s right.
Jim: It’s what’s true.
John: Hmm. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Our guest today is J. Warner Wallace, and, uh, boy, this is some really fascinating stuff.
Jim: Yeah.
John: Get a copy of the book by our guest. It’s called Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible. And we’ve got details about getting a copy of that book, uh, at our website. That’s focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or give us a call, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.
Jim: And Jim, you point out how, uh, several significant developments in ancient history allowed for the incredible dissemination of the Gospel and the exponential growth of Christianity. Start with the developments of language and writing, why that is so important at that moment.
J. Warner: Yeah. I- so, a lot of the times, when I’m investigating a fuse, I’m answering my own skeptical questions, because I’m anticipating that the jury is probably gonna have similarly skeptical questions.
Jim: Uh-huh.
J. Warner: So, when I’m examining the fuse in history that leads up to the appearance of Jesus in the first century, I’m examining really, my own skepticism. So, I had a skepticism about a c- num- number of things, but one of them was, there’s this question, if Jesus really is God, why wouldn’t He just come now, when we’ve got social media and iPhones and we can, you know… So, why- wouldn’t it be a better time to come now? Like, why does he come when he comes? But it turns out that the, uh, cultural shifts and that the progress of culture and technology actually does benefit the first century, in terms of disseminating information historically.
J. Warner: So, for example, you know, you don’t- you can’t really- if you can’t express the- and articulate the detail of the Jesus story because you don’t have the letters in place yet, you don’t have an alphabet in place yet, if you’re just using hieroglyphics to- for example, describe the Sermon on the Mount, well, good luck with that.
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: It’s not gonna be easy to do. But- but once you have an alphabet, an alphabet that’s widely distributed across the entire region-
Jim: Mm-hmm.
J. Warner: … like the Etruscan alphabet, which is adopted by Rome, and then as Rome conquers the (laughs) entire known world, it exports the Etruscan alphabet, and you have, you know, a Koine Greek, which is being used by the Romans, you have papyrus, which is much easier to transport than, so, for example, clay tablets-
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: … or- or stone. So, these things emerge in time, until, by the time Rome is in power, and has organized and roads are in place. There’s a 200-year period of peace called the Pax Romana that occurs, uh, and allows for the Roman empire to spend money on things it used to spend on war, it now began to spend on infrastructure-
Jim: Hmm.
J. Warner: … like roads.
Jim: Yeah-
J. Warner: So, more-
Jim: … 47,000 miles?
J. Warner: Exactly.
Jim: That caught my attention. I had no idea.
J. Warner: That is connecting all of these other empires. Like, the Persians also had great roads. But now, the Roman empire makes sure that all roads lead to Rome. That’s not, actually-
Jim: (laughs)
J. Warner: … is one of the goals of- of the Roman empire, and they even connected the Silk Road from China. So, now, you’ve got access, by way of roads. As a matter of fact, the very- uh, if you read John’s Rev- the book of Revelation, there are a couple of churches that John is talking about in the first chapter that Paul planted by using roads that were not even available to Paul at the- 100 years earlier.
Jim: Hmm.
J. Warner: Because they were constructed by the Romans and allowed Paul into places where he could plant churches. So, it turns out, it’s not just that Jesus appears. It’s that the infrastructure is in place, and the technology, the alphabet, the language is in place so that you can actually transmit the message of Jesus-
Jim: To spread the Gospel.
J. Warner: Yes, and this is what I would say-
Jim: That’s interesting.
J. Warner: And so, the question becomes, then, what- but what- still wouldn’t it be better to come now? But here’s what I discovered. What I discovered is that let’s say we do this interview, and we- it’s viewed by a million people. Well, they’re not going to download it, physically, into a million computers. They’re gonna view it online. And let’s say that they saw a miracle occur in this video, for some reason.
Jim: Hmm.
J. Warner: Well, I think we are the most distrusting- e- even the claims about the news.
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: We are so divided as a-
Jim: That’s true.
J. Warner: … nation, and so divided as a world, that it- we’re gonna say, “Well, who’s saying that first? Well, I don’t trust that person, so I don’t trust that information.” So, we are very distrusting. And then, when we see something that looks miraculous, “Well, I’ve watched the Marvel superhero movies too.”
Jim: Right.
J. Warner: Everything looks miraculous. Do I- do you trust anything anymore you see? But, more importantly, you’re not downloading the video. Now, why that matters is that if you downloaded it to a million different geographic locations, it would be much hard to eradicate the information in the video. In other words, if the information about Jesus is on physical manuscripts, in a million locations, now it’s very hard to eradicate the message of Jesus-
Jim: Huh.
J. Warner: … ’cause they can’t just flip the server off. So, it turns out, if you’re gonna come and you wanna have lasting historical impact, you want to come at a time when- when information is disseminated materially, not digitally.
Jim: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
J. Warner: … because number one, you don’t trust digital information. We don’t. And number two-
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: … you don’t save digital information, geographically. It’s easy to eradicate.
Jim: Now, that’s good. You- you also mention, uh, human beings being hardwired to believe in God. Um, I think that, but I probably think it more so than before I became a Christian.
J. Warner: Mm-hmm.
Jim: But why is that so self-evident, as a detective?
J. Warner: Well, okay. So, that’s th- one of the, uh, these three strands of this fuse that are burning up. One of them is the culture of Rome, and developing, and taking con- charge of things, and providing an infrastructure so the message can be communicated. The other is there’s a spiritual fuse, that it turns out that we are a- we are created in the image of God, so don’t be surprised if we often think about God, and even today, polls have been taken. I think about 83% of all living humans believe in some form of theism or deism.
Jim: And that’s with an incredible secular headwind right there.
J. Warner: Oh, absolutely.
Jim: Think about that.
J. Warner: And this is- these are studies being done by secular groups.
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: As a matter of fact, uh, thought of the- the Ivy League schools that are mostly secular now, have done this research, and have discovered that- that, really, we are born with a default position of looking at Creation and inferring the existence of a Creator. That’s very natural for children to do. As a matter of fact, this is now kind of said that theism is kind of bred in the bone, according to these studies. I’ve kind of cited them in the book. So, don’t be surprised. This has always been the case, and even in antiquity. So, here’s what I would say, as a skeptic. Well, I- I hear a lot about this dying and rising savior named Jesus, but it seems to me, He’s just a copy of some other dying and rising saviors that have- He’s stolen the story from, and we see this a lot in Jesus mythers, who will say that Jesus is not an original story and He never lived. He’s just a recreation of prior mythologies. And they’ll cite similarities between these prior mythologies. Well, that’s a fuse that’s burning toward the appearance of the first century, and I wanted to examine it. So, if you look and read through all the ancient mythologies, what you’re gonna discover is they have about 15 things in common, and it turns out, those 15 things they have in common are all the things that humans naturally expect of deity. We think about God, and we imagine certain things. Well, if He’s God, He probably has power beyond ours. So, we always- al- almost every God, for example, can do God things. They can do supernatural miracles because we expect our Gods to do supernatural mir-Many of them appear supernaturally. Well, when you kind of expect that too. Ours does, right? Jesus appears supernaturally. Now, only broadly, are these 15 attributes similar. Now-
Jim: In each of those-
J. Warner: In- in each of these.
Jim: … expressions.
J. Warner: So, I charted them all-
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: … and not- no deity, no ph- mythology prior to Jesus has more than about 10 of these.
Jim: Okay.
J. Warner: And some has as few as six until you get to the first century, and then Jesus appears, possessing all 15 of the ancient expectations of deity.
John: Hmm.
J. Warner: Now, what’s interesting about that, is if you wanted to come and meet the expectations of the expectors, if the expected wants to meet the expectations of the expectors, Jesus does that.
Jim: Huh.
J. Warner: And Paul even talks about this. You know, you people are very religious. You even un- worship an unknown God, here. Well, we’re here to tell you that what you’ve imagined, we actually saw with our own eyes.
Jim: Hmm. Right.
J. Warner: And so, he’s comparing the myths of humans… now, when I say myth, I mean the stories of deity, to the myth written by God, as C.S. Lewis says. Not a fiction, but a claim about God that is from the mind of God, from the mind of poets, and ancients, and expectors, to the mind of the expected. That’s the difference in Jesus. And so, you see that, yeah, He shows up at a time in history when the ancient groups- the vast majority of ancient myth worshipers are still worshiping the ancient myths with common expectations, and Jesus meets these.
Jim: Hmm.
J. Warner: So, all the similarities between Jesus and other deities, they’re not that similar, first of all.
Jim: Yeah.
J. Warner: I mean, just broadly similar, but they end up being evidence for Jesus, not an evidence against him.
Jim: Mm-hmm. Well, and you put it in context like that, the exchange of Jesus with the woman at the well. (laughs) I mean, you- you get a little sense of God’s frustration there. “Woman, I’m standing right in front of you.”
J. Warner: I know.
Jim: “I am the water.” (laughs)
J. Warner: But what’s great about it that we share these expectations, and even the modern scientific and sociological experiments we’re doing right now demonstrate that created beings have expectations of the Creator. It’s been going on for thousands of years, and Jesus meets most robustly, all of those expectations, and that’s not by coincidence. He’s the only one in the history of anyone who claimed to be God, who actually has all 15 of the characteristics. Like, Buddha, for example, has 10-
Jim: Right. No, that’s a-
J. Warner: … of these 15.
Jim: … really interesting observation, that He fulfilled even that, you know-
J. Warner: Right.
Jim: … mythology-
J. Warner: That’s right.
Jim: … that- that Jesus is the fulfillment of all of it.
J. Warner: He’s the actual reality-
Jim: Yeah. (laughs)
J. Warner: … that you’ve been imagining. Mm-hmm.
Jim: In parts and pieces-
J. Warner: That’s right.
Jim: … in all those expressions. That’s so fascinating. Let me ask this question, Jim. Uh, do you feel if you had to go in front of a jury today on the trial basis of Jesus existence, you think you’d win the case?
J. Warner: Well, here’s what I always say. You win j- juries trials not in opening statements, not in the evidence showed, not in closing arguments. You win cases in jury selection. Sorry. It’s just the case. So, I would say to anyone listening, if you feel like, hey, I’ve been sharing the Gospel with people. It’s about jury selection, and I- I can’t put people on a jury who have preci-positional biases or reasons to reject a truth claim that aren’t evidential. So, I make sure we- we have a voir dire process where we select the ju- and we eliminate the jurors who are biased against us, on either side. On either side. So, the question I always say is, uh, are you taking the time? Are you praying about this? Are you asking God to soften the heart of the potential juror before you begin to present a case? Because it turns out, you can present a case to a juror who’s already biased against you. It’s not gonna go very far. And I can’t soften the heart of the- my hearers. Only God does that. God calls, and then we d- deliver a message, and people respond. So, I always say, yes. Don’t get frustrated though. I think this case is more than sufficient. This case is very compelling, but there will still be people who will resist it-
Jim: Hmm.
J. Warner: … that has more to do with jury selection than it does the strength of the case.
Jim: That’s really interesting. And for our listeners and viewers, I wanna make sure we recommend this wonderful book, Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible. And, as Jim mentioned a moment ago, I mean, the Gen Z, the Gen x, all of the, uh, young folks today, are really looking and prodding to see can this be true? Is it real? And we’d better get equipped to answer those questions and to give a good answer to those solid questions, and one way to do it is to read this wonderful resource.
John: Yeah. Uh, get a copy of Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible. Uh, we’ve got details for you when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: And like we often say, if you can make a gift of any amount, if you can do it monthly, that’s great. It helps us do ministry, but join in. Uh, do ministry with us, and we’ll send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you.
John: Hmm. Donate as you can when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, and request your copy of the book by J. Warner Wallace, Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible.
Jim: Jim, again, stick with us, and thanks for being us today.
J. Warner: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
John: And thank you for joining us today for Focus on the Family. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we continue the conversation with J. Warner Wallace, and once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World That Rejects the Bible

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