eyewitness reliability of historic truth claims of Christianity
Don’t Be a “Know It All” and Learn How to “Infer”
Christianity is based on a claim about an event from the distant past for which there is little or no forensic evidence. Learning how to apply cold-case investigative skills allows us to examine the evidence and discover the truth. Detective J. Warner Wallace discusses controlling presuppositions, understanding the difference between “possible” and “reasonable,” and employing abductive reasoning.
Think “Circumstantially” and Test Your Witnesses
By understanding direct and circumstantial evidence, we can better judge the strength or weakness of a case. The eyewitnesses of the Gospels observed uniquely powerful and memorable events and provided us with accounts that can be tested for reliability. In this episode, Detective Wallace answers: Do apparent contradictions between the Gospels make the Bible unreliable?
Hang on Every Word and Separate Artifacts from Evidence
Good detectives learn to pay attention to word choice. With no original copy of the gospels and differences between the ancient manuscripts we do possess, it’s crucial to investigate the many manuscripts available for the message of Scripture. If we know how to separate the artifacts from the evidence, how closely can we return the biblical “crime scene” to its original condition?
Resist Conspiracy Theories, Know When “Enough Is Enough,” and Prepare for an Attack
Skeptics of Christianity challenge the nature of truth, demand evidential perfection, and employ a culturally winsome attitude. Understanding what’s required for a successful conspiracy is just one tool to combatting false theories and being prepared with tactics. How ready are you for attacks on the truth of Christianity?
Were They Present?
Juries test witnesses for reliability. The first test is simple: was the witness really there? We can test the gospel writers in the same way. By recreating a Gospel authorship timeline, this evidence can evaluate the gospel writers and infer an early date of authorship. Were all four Gospels recorded early enough to have been written by eyewitnesses?
Were They Corroborated?
Both internal and external evidences support, verify, and corroborate the claims of the Gospels. Detective Wallace defines both internal (unintentional eyewitness support, names of cities, and individuals) and external corroboration (archaeology, ancient non-Christian authors). Are the claims made in the Gospels supported by both?
Were They Accurate?
Time often exposes eyewitness inaccuracy or lies. It’s important to examine the Gospels for honesty and accuracy over time. This “truth about lies” helps us evaluate the Gospel authors and their claims. If we apply the “chain of custody” concept, do we have confidence that the major attributes of the life of Jesus accepted as canon were described early and never changed over time?
Were They Biased?
Were the disciples lying about the resurrection? What did they hope to gain? Studying the issue of motive allows us to test for any eyewitness bias among the early Christians. Applying the three basic motives behind any kind of misbehavior (financial greed, sexual or relational desire, and pursuit of power), were the writers of the Gospels too biased to report the history of Jesus truthfully?