J. Warner Wallace

Author, Cold-Case Christianity

How Cold-Case Killers Confirm the Biblical Description of Humans

I’ve been investigating cold-case murderers for about fifteen years. During this time I’ve met several defense attorneys who have been certain their client was innocent. One confided she was unable to believe her defendant could have committed such a horrific crime given his present life. I can almost understand her disbelief. Most of my suspects are regular people who live quite ordinary lives following their crime. They are doting parents (and grandparents), firemen, church elders, engineers, painters, professionals and blue collar workers. They’re your neighbor, your kid’s scout leader, your co-worker and your family member. These people aren’t serial killers, they’re regular people who have committed an extraordinary crime. When you arrest a serial killer and interview his neighbors, they’ll typically say something like, “Wow, I am so glad you took that guy to jail. He was weird. I always suspected he was up to no good. I heard strange noises and smelled strange smells over there all the time!” But when you take a cold-case murderer to jail, his neighbor will typically say, “No way! I’ve known that guy for a dozen years. He’s watched my kids and we hang out all the time. There’s no way he could have committed a murder!” How can regular people who’ve lived good, decent lives for decades be capable of committing a horrific murder thirty years earlier? If you’re a Christian, you may already know the answer to this question. I certainly do, because my cold-case killers confirm the Biblical description of humans.

The dual nature of humans is sometimes described as the “enigma of man”. We are capable of nobility and kindness on the one hand, yet capable of shockingly evil behaviors on the other. And I’m not talking about humanity as a group, I’m talking about each of us as specific individuals! The same person who can be kind and loving, can also (under the right circumstances) be brutal and ruthless. We are beautiful and ugly, trustworthy and unreliable, noble and despicable, and each of us is a confusing blend of each extreme. You might think there’s something mentally wrong with people who are this contradictory, but none of my suspects have been crazy. None have been deemed insane. This kind of conflicting behavior is not necessarily a sign of mental instability; it is often simply a sign of our common humanity. You may not want to believe it, but each of us is capable of doing the unspeakable. Given the right set of events, and pushed to the limit, every one of us is capable of dreadful behavior. This is the human condition.

As Christians, we happen to possess a worldview accurately describing and explaining our experience as humans. The Bible tells us humans were created in the “image of God”. Our capacity for good is a direct gift from our Creator. It is an attribute reflecting His nature. But if this is the case, how are “noble” creations (humans) capable of such great evil? The Biblical narrative provides us with the answer: God has given us the one foundational characteristic necessary for the existence of love. He’s given us the freedom to choose. But freedom is dangerous. It makes love possible, but often results in acts of hatred. There can be no love without this kind of dangerous freedom. If you want one, you have to allow for the other. To do anything else would be logically impossible, like creating a square circle or an unmarried bachelor. Love requires freedom and humans possess this dangerous freedom. But there’s more.

The Bible also tells us humans are fallen. The first humans abused their freedom and we have inherited both their behavior and their blame. If you doubt the fallen nature of humans (or your own fallen disposition) you probably haven’t examined yourself deeply enough. But if you’re a parent, you already know you don’t have to teach your infant children to be impatient, rude and self-serving. They behave this way from the onset unless we teach them otherwise. Our own experience as parents (and as humans) confirms the Biblical description. All of us begin as self-serving, fallen creatures and this doesn’t change much as we get older. We’re all a mess, if we are willing to be honest.

The Bible describes both the problem and the solution. As enigmatic, contradictory creatures, designed in the image of God but marred by our rebellious, fallen nature, our only hope in reuniting with our Creator is offered at the Cross. We can’t fix this problem on our own. We can’t eliminate our imperfection, and this imperfection deserves death and separation. But a perfect God offers us perfect forgiveness. He’s willing to take the consequence and blame on Himself. Jesus did that for us on the Cross. Each of us is a cold-case killer, a mixture of beauty and cruelty, love and hate, compassion and aggression. I’ve seen it over and over again. We’re all the same murderer. But for the grace of God, each of us could find ourselves in a similar situation. All of us are killers unaware. All of us need a Savior. Cold-case killers confirm the Biblical description of humans.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity

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About J. Warner Wallace

J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective, adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University, Christian case maker and author. J. Warner was a conscientious and vocal atheist through his undergraduate and graduate work in Design and Architecture (CSULB and UCLA); he always considered himself to be an “evidentialist”. His experience in law enforcement only served to strengthen his conviction that truth is tied directly to evidence. But at the age of thirty-five, J. Warner took a serious and expansive look at the evidence for the Christian Worldview and determined that Christianity was demonstrably true. After becoming a Christ follower in 1996, Jim continued to take an evidential approach to truth as he examined the Christian worldview. He eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. J. Warner served as a Youth Pastor for several years, then planted a church in 2006. Along the way, he created and built the Cold-Case Christianity website, blog and podcast as a place to post and talk about what he discovered related to the evidence supporting Christianity. Jim has appeared on television and radio, explaining the role that evidence plays in the Christian definition of “faith” and defending the historicity of Jesus, the reliability of the Bible and the truth of the Christian worldview. Jim also speaks at churches, retreats and camps as he seeks to help people become confident Christian case makers. J. Warner’s first book, Cold-Case Christianity, provides readers with ten principles of cold case investigations and utilizes these principles to examine the reliability of the gospel eyewitness accounts. In his second book, God’s Crime Scene, he investigates eight pieces of evidence in the universe to make the case for God’s existence. J. Warner’s professional investigative work has received national recognition; his cases have been featured more than any other detective on NBC’s Dateline, and his work has also appeared on CourtTV and Fox News. He also appears on television as an investigative consultant and had a role in God’s Not Dead 2, making the case for the historicity of Jesus. J. Warner was awarded the Police and Fire Medal of Valor “Sustained Superiority” Award for his continuing work on cold-case homicides. Relying on over two decades of investigative experience, J. Warner provides his readers and audiences with the tools they will need to investigate the claims of Christianity and make a convincing case for the truth of the Christian worldview. You can follow J. Warner Wallace on Twitter @JWarnerWallace

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