J Warner Wallace on Cold-Case Christianity & Christmas
Date: December 14th, 2014

What could a homicide detective, who was an ardent atheist early in his life, tell us about the historical veracity of The Bible?  We invite J. Warner Wallace, a real-life detective and author of Cold-Case Christianity, to explain how he came to applying police forensics to the study of Christianity and how it affected his life.

Following a bit of chatter about college football,* as both Jim and Tony are alumni of UCLA, we dive into Jim’s personal history focusing initially on his career as a homicide detective.  He talks about his family’s history of being police officers and how he gravitated to detective work and cold cases.  A number of his investigations have been shown on shows such as Dateline.  Jim talks about a few recent cases he investigated for all of you murder mystery fans (like Tony).  Our conversation also covers Jim’s conversion to Christianity beginning around the age 35.  While an atheist, he attended church with his wife every now and then, but he started to become curious about the historical nature of Jesus and began employing his investigative skills to look at the evidence not of whether Jesus ever existed (which he did accept), but about Christ’s divinity.  Jim notes that his journey to Christianity was a gradual process and he notes some of the barriers he had to overcome to finally yield to belief and become a church planter.  We share some general speculations on why some atheists become religious.

We then move into how Jim wrote his book Cold-Case Christianity and some of the contents therein.  Jim mentions a few of his influences including Lee Stroebel, and Sean McDowell.  This is the part of the interview where we go over what it takes to be a detective and the different kinds of evidence that are needed to convince a jury in a legal proceeding, with an emphasis on indirect (or circumstantial) evidence.  We cover several of Jim’s ten important lessons for every detective and how they relate to Christianity.  Jim discusses how conspiracies are difficult to maintain and how his examination of both the authors of the Gospel and the Church Fathers would have had a difficult time keeping their stories consistent.  We talk about the pressure on individuals to recant their stories about Jesus and how their refusal factors into Jim’s overall body of evidence.  He then applies this methodology to the “birth narrative” — i.e. the Christmas story.  While noting that Jesus probably not born on December 25, he nonetheless says there is reasons to believe that many aspects of the story are true including an interesting rhetorical reference about the “son of Mary.”

Our interview concludes with what Jim has learned over the past two years following the writing of his book.  He shares some thoughts on the importance of communication and challenging individuals to really interrogate their religious beliefs and not just accept them as true because of how you were raised.  Recorded: November 10, 2014.

*Tony asks Jim for his prediction of the 2014 UCLA-USC game and he forecasts a Bruins win.  He must be a good detective since the final score was 38-20 in favor of the team from Westwood!


J. Warner Wallace’s bio on the Cold-Case Christianity website and Please Convince Me website.

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels, by J. Warner Wallace.

Alive: A Cold-Case Approach to the Resurrection, by J. Warner Wallace (e-book).


Jim Papandrea on the Early Church Fathers and Patristic Exegesis.

Russell Kleckley on Religion, Science, and Johannes Kepler.

Robert Barr on Quantum Physics, Religion, and the God Particle.

5 Responses to “J Warner Wallace on Cold-Case Christianity & Christmas”

  1. keith crosby says:

    I read it… it was an enjoyable read. It may help some critics who were christian leaning take the step of embracing Christ.

  2. […] J. Warner Wallace on Cold-Case Christianity and Christmas. […]

  3. […] J. Warner Wallace on Cold-Case Christianity and Christmas. […]

  4. Eric Alorde says:

    please can you help me with a little childhood background of J Waner Wallace. Am writing a book on The Man Jesus and really need this info to convince people about J growing up as an unbeliever. Thank you

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