J. Warner Wallace

Author, Cold-Case Christianity

Rapid Response: You Can’t Trust the Gospels Because They Were Written by Christians

In our Rapid Response series, we tackle common concerns about (and objections to) the Christian worldview by providing short, conversational responses. These posts are designed to model what our answers might look like in a one-on-one setting, while talking to a friend or family member. Imagine if someone said, “I can’t trust what the New Testament says about Jesus: after all, it was written by biased Christians. I can only believe what’s been written by ancient non-Christians, and they don’t say much about Jesus.” How would you answer such an objection? Here is a conversational example of how I recently responded:

“When I hear someone demand an ancient non-Christian authority, I immediately recognize the objection for what it is: a complaint about the historical reliability of the Gospels. Some skeptics think you can’t trust the New Testament because it was written by people who were friends of Jesus. They assume those who were close to Jesus would lie about (or exaggerate) the details of his life and ministry. But the Gospel accounts have to be assessed based on their own historical merit, and we have to remember the nature of their authors. Let me give you an example from a case I worked many years ago.

I once investigated a bank robbery in which the robber waited in line prior to committing the crime. As he stood there, he was recognized by the assistant manager (Kathy) who was sitting at a desk. She went to high school with this guy (for the sake of my illustration, let’s call him ‘Mark Hill’). The assistant manager thought, ‘I'll say hello to him,’ but before she could approach him, he walked up to the teller and began committing the robbery. Mark never even noticed Kathy was in the bank.

Kathy was shocked that Mark was committing a robbery; in high school, she knew him as a smart, kind person. If she had to create a list of all the people she thought would one day commit a bank robbery, Mark would have been on the bottom of her list, if at all. But here he was, committing a robbery, right before her eyes. So here is my question: should I interview Kathy as a witness? Do you think I can trust her?

A skeptic might say, ‘No, you can’t trust Kathy. She’s biased; she thinks Mark Hill is a bank robber. She's a Mark Hillian. You can't trust Mark Hillians to tell you the truth about Mark Hill!’ Of course that's ridiculous. Kathy was convinced that Mark Hill committed a bank robbery not because she was biased against him. She was convinced based on what she saw with her own eyes. She didn’t hold a prior bias based on her friendship, she held a present conviction based on her observations.

Do we really think that someone like Matthew, for example, can’t be trusted simply because he knew Jesus? Matthew wasn’t part of the discipleship of John the Baptist, like many of the other disciples. He wasn’t even a friend of these disciples and he didn’t appear to be seeking the Messiah at all. Instead, Jesus encountered him on the road where Matthew (then called Levi) was collecting taxes. Years later, after watching all that Jesus did and said, Matthew wrote down his observations, not from a position of prior bias, but from a position of present observation. If you can trust Kathy, you can trust Matthew.”

This brief answer was modified from my interview with Bobby Conway. To learn more and watch many other short answers to difficult questions, please visit the One-Minute Apologist website.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, and God’s Crime Scene.

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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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