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The Resurrection with a Cold-Case Detective Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
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March 22, 2021 8:38 pm

The Resurrection with a Cold-Case Detective Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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March 22, 2021 8:38 pm

Cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace joins Bill and Eric as he provides evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus. This information is crucial to understand because, without the resurrection, Christianity is no better than any other religion.

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Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a Biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. So glad you could be with us for this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM.

We also have with us J. Warner Wallace. If you've ever heard of the book, Cold Case Christianity, then you are going to enjoy this show today because Jim is the author of that book. He has quite a few positive things that have been said about what he's done for the field of apologetics.

Dr. Richard Land, who's the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, said, I have seldom seen an approach to verifying the truth claims of the Christian faith that is more effective than the one taken by, quote, God's police detective, which, of course, is our guest today. Jim, welcome back to the show. I always enjoy having you on. So much for having me.

We're so glad to have you. And we want to talk about your booklet, Alive. The Easter season is upon us. We're going to be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And as we mentioned in yesterday's show, sadly, many Latter-day Saints who find out that their church is not telling them the truth, have found out that Joseph Smith was not, in fact, a prophet of God, tend to throw everything out, everything having to do with faith, even though they claimed as a Latter-day Saint that they believed in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. So we're going to talk about some of the things that you have in this booklet, a very easy book to read. You can read it within a half hour.

I know that to be true because I did it this morning. And so we want to look at a subject that was brought up in yesterday's show, and that is the topic of abductive reasoning. Why don't you explain for our listeners what that is and why you included that in your booklet? Well, it's sometimes called just developing the best inference from evidence. So inferring to the most reasonable explanation.

So what we're doing is we're making a list in any death scene. You walk in, you get called because two officers are there at the scene. They get called because there's a dead body and they're not quite sure if it's a crime or not.

So they call the detectives and we come out and we've got to determine, is there a crime here or did this person die naturally or accidentally or by way of suicide? So what we're doing is making a mental list in our head, a list of all the evidence and then a list of all the explanations. And we're comparing evidences to explanations and crossing out the explanations that don't make sense given the evidence.

That process of elimination eventually leaves you with the best inference from evidence. Now, why is that important for us in examining really any worldview? Well, look at the claims of the worldview, first of all. So Christianity and Mormonism standing on Christianity, if you're somebody who is raised LDS or was raised LDS and you accepted that the resurrection occurred, well, why did you accept that? If you accepted it just on trust, you trusted some other authority, your parents, somebody else in your church, well, then I'm not surprised.

If you didn't come in by reasoning your way in, you're going to leave without reasoning your way out because you haven't used the mechanisms in place. When every speaker, every evangelist in the book of Acts, every early Christian who described the gospel, they began with the fact that they said, I witnessed the resurrection of Jesus. You killed him and he rose from the grave. He fulfilled all the prophecies. I saw it with my own eyes.

What are they doing? They're testifying as direct evidence. So I think this is an important skill set to learn so that we can figure out the resurrection. Did Jesus really arise from the grave?

Because look, there's all other alternatives. As an atheist, I only accepted a few meager details. I would have agreed with you that Jesus lived. I'm not a Jesus mythor. Even as an atheist at 35, I wasn't a Jesus mythor.

I would have said, okay, so what? Some ancient sage lived named Jesus. A lot of ancient sages lived, so what? That doesn't mean that Christianity is true or that he rose from the grave. I would have also said, okay, he was executed on a cross and buried, okay? So the tomb is empty. I would have given you that because, look, if the tomb is not empty, there's not even a debate here.

The tomb is empty. That's why we have this controversy, okay? So I can explain that a number of ways as an atheist. As a matter of fact, the first three things I just said could be true and Christianity could simultaneously be false. Because I can explain how he died on the cross and how the tomb is empty.

Even, okay, a bunch of people said they saw him rise from the grave. So people lie. They're misled. They're delusional. There's lots of ways to explain all of the minimal facts I just gave you and still hold to your atheism.

I did that for a number of years. So the question then becomes, well, have you examined all the explanations to see if your explanations are reasonable? So I eventually made a list of like six atheist explanations for the most basic facts about Jesus.

I wouldn't have given you anything more. I would have said, yep, he existed. He died on the cross and was buried.

People said they saw him alive and they were pretty enthusiastic about it. And they were willing to kind of actually go to their deaths. But that's all I would have given you. Empty tomb, I would have given you that.

That's it. I wouldn't give you any other fact. From those four or five facts, how do I explain them? So I said, okay, well, they could have been lying about it. Maybe he wasn't really dead on the cross. Maybe they were delusional and hallucinated at this. Maybe one of them was delusional and hallucinated at it and it was powerful enough to influence the rest.

Maybe somebody sat in it as an imposter. Maybe the story was just changed over time and the earliest versions of the Jesus story didn't even include a resurrection. I mean, I could give you six different ways to explain those four pieces of evidence, yet still hold on to my atheistic perspective. Of course, the seventh way is simply that, no, they're actually recording something that's true. So as I say, we have seven explanations now.

So I've been in a list. Here's the evidence I would accept. Here are the seven explanations you could use to explain those four or five pieces of evidence.

And I started to go through and cross out the ones that really, if you dig deep, don't adequately explain the evidence. And what you're left with, I hate to tell you if you're, say, a Mormon believer who's left the faith and now is an atheist, there's good reason to believe that the New Testament authors were actually telling the truth about this. There's not really as good a reason as you might have thought to walk away from Christianity altogether. Some people are going to say there's a difference between police work that you've been involved with for many years versus personal faith. And there are going to be some critics, perhaps some Mormons and maybe even some Christians who will say, what you're talking about here sounds very much like rationalism.

And in Mormonism, it's more of a view of feudalism, which is that faith is more important than reason. How are you going to respond to critics who say you're putting in too much reason to try to determine a spiritual issue? Yeah, I'm taking an approach that was taken by Jesus of Nazareth.

So if you're taking an approach that's other than this, you're taking an approach that really is not grounding in the teaching of the Master. The Master said always, if you don't believe what I'm saying, look at the Gospel of John, chapter 10, chapter 14, they can go on and on. He says, if you don't believe what I'm telling you, at least believe on the evidence of the miracles I've worked in front of you. There's two kinds of evidence, direct evidence, which is testimony of eyewitnesses, and indirect evidence, which is everything else, which would include the miracles. So he's pointing to the indirect evidence of the miracles to authenticate his message. As a matter of fact, when John the Baptist has doubts and sends his disciples to Jesus, Jesus could expose himself as either an evidentialist or as a theist, of somebody who would say, no, it's faith alone.

Just blind, unsubstantiated faith is required here. His disciples, John's disciples come and they say, Jesus, John sent us, he wants to know, are you still the one? Now listen to Jesus's response, because I always get forensic statement analysis. What are the things the suspect could have said but chose not to say?

Those are big. Jesus could have said, what? John, my cousin, who left in the womb when our mothers met, who baptized me and saw the Spirit of God descend on me, who gave me his disciples, basically said, there he is, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Now most of his disciples came with me. He is now asking me this question.

Are you kidding me? You tell him to be brain about this, to have a little more faith. That's what he could have said.

That's not what he said. Instead, he said, OK, he worked three miracles in front of John's disciples and he told John's disciples, go back and tell John what you just saw. The blind have sight, the broken have been healed, the lame are walking. In other words, he did something evidential and then told the disciples of John to tell John what you just saw as direct evidence, as direct witnesses, report the indirect evidence of these miracles to John.

That's a very evidential approach to take if you're somebody who's requiring nothing of us but blind faith. You tell a story of a guy named Dave. He's a fellow police officer. You said that he would stay up until his children got home from being out at night, and he was not the warmest of guys, but he would give his kids a big hug.

Why did he do that? Yeah, he would stay up at night until his children come home late and he would walk up and give them a big hug and say, I'm glad you're home safe and going to bed, because he wanted to get close enough to this guy to smell if he had been smoking dope or drinking alcohol. OK, so it's like he's very evidential. He's got theories. Whatever story his son's going to have, he's going to have to match the story with the explanation with whatever evidence Dave would gather.

Again, we do this all the time. We collect evidence, and we listen to explanations, and we try to match the best explanation to the evidence, and that's all we're trying to do with the resurrection. Of all the ways you could explain the resurrection, which way best fits the evidence of a guy who really lived, died on a cross, buried in a grave, the tomb was empty afterwards, people are reported having seen him rise from the grave, and that they were very committed to their statements.

That's all I would have given you as an atheist. The question is, how do I explain those minimal truth claims? Jim, you talk about how the disciples might have been wrong about Jesus' death. And for many years, the swoon theory was a prevailing idea about what happened, that he actually revived when he got into the tomb. But as a detective, why do you deny the possibility that Jesus wasn't dead when he was put into the grave? Well, there's a bunch of reasons to deny, but I'll give you a simple one that's in the text itself. It's a confusing conclusion in the text. John mentions in the text that when Jesus was approached by the guards, where they were coming to take down the bodies, they get there, and two of the three are not yet dead.

Two of the three. The two who were executed with Jesus. So he breaks their legs. The guards break their legs, so they are now dead. They don't break Jesus' legs, which makes me feel suspicious as an atheist. Well, maybe he's not dead.

He might look dead, but he's not dead. But they stab him with a spear. And it says in the Gospel, John records, that John saw a separation of blood and water come out of his chest. Now that's interesting, because if you read every church, and I did this, I went back and read all the earliest readers of the Gospel of John. Read the church fathers on this, Tertullian, whoever it may be, Origen. You read these early church fathers, and they get to that line, and they're like, I don't understand that line. They'll say, it couldn't have been water, because they didn't understand the science of death.

We're still many hundreds of years away from understanding that science. What they didn't understand is something that's called pleural effusion. It's when after you are going to cardiac arrest and your heart fails, you will collect water around your heart and in your lungs. Pleural effusion is in your lungs. Pericardial effusion is around your heart. And so if I was to stab your chest cavity, and I did puncture your lung, you would see the visible separation of water and blood.

But that means you've already suffered cardiac arrest. Now the reason why I think that's interesting is, John sticks that detail in there, when clearly the people in his generation had no idea of what that indicated. This is why there's confusion about it. All the church fathers try to spiritualize it.

They'll say it wasn't really water. It was something else. It's a symbol. Symbol of the baptism.

Symbol of the Holy Spirit. But it could not have been water, according to the earliest readers, because they didn't understand the science. So isn't that interesting? There's a piece of confusing, hidden science in the Gospel of John that demonstrates that Jesus is dead, even though John did not understand what he was seeing.

We're talking with Jay Warner Wallace, and he is the author of Alive! A Cold Case Approach to the Resurrection, and tomorrow we're going to continue looking at some of the criticisms that people have made regarding the bodily resurrection of Jesus. I encourage you to visit our website at, where you can request our free newsletter, Mormonism Researched. We hope you will join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism. Looking for a book on Mormonism from a Christian perspective? Or do you have questions about the history or doctrines of the LDS Church? Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson are once again volunteering at the Utah Lighthouse Bookstore and would be glad to speak to you on Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. The Utah Lighthouse Bookstore is located right there at 1358 South on West Temple Street in Salt Lake City. Be sure to come by any Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. and say hi to Bill or Eric.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-12 15:35:39 / 2023-12-12 15:41:57 / 6

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