Last week, popular author, apologist, and Colson Center Senior Fellow J. Warner Wallace released his latest book, Person of Interest: Why Jesus Still Matters in a World that Rejects the Bible.
His background experience as a police detective specializing in cold cases has always added a fascinating dynamic to Wallace’s investigations of Christianity. His skills solving cold cases, sometimes years after initial investigations closed, have led him to national recognition in both forensics and Christian apologetics.
In his earlier book, Cold Case Christianity, Wallace examined the testimony of the Gospel writers. He explored the New Testament to determine if there were reliable witnesses to Jesus. In his next book, Forensic Faith, Wallace taught investigative techniques to readers so they could examine their own faith, and share it with others.
Now, in Person of Interest, Wallace answers a difficult question: What if all that compelling evidence from the Gospel accounts wasn’t even available? Writing to a culture that has largely rejected the Bible as a valid source of information, Wallace asks if there is enough extra-Biblical information to consider Jesus a person worth paying attention to? Is there reason to believe that He was the incarnate Son of God?
In Person of Interest, Wallace employs a methodology similar to what police use in what are called “no-body, missing person cases.” No-body, missing person cases are disappearances where there is little to no physical evidence, no victim’s body, no crime scene. Throughout his career, Wallace worked many cold cases and he’s noticed a pattern from those cases: there’s usually a trail of compelling evidence to follow. For example, in the case of a serious crime, there’s almost always a fuse: a series of words, suspicions, preparations, expectations that can be incriminating when followed after a crime.
And, there’s nearly always what Wallace calls a blast radius: the scope of an impact from the event’s significance. Even if the crime was hidden, almost anything about someone’s life could change after a hidden crime: hobbies, lifestyles, actions, relationships. Wallace writes, “When a high impact event like a homicide occurs, it leaves a mark. It takes a while for the fuse to burn, and the debris is difficult to miss.”
Think about it: if Jesus really is the center in all of history, we’d expect to see a significant fuse and significant fallout from His life. And that’s exactly what we see: from the Greek language that led to the proliferation of Scripture, to the Roman roads that carried the Gospel to the ends of the earth, to the hundreds of prophetic messages delivered to the people of Israel.
The life of Jesus Christ was predicted and prepared for. Here’s how the Apostle Paul put it, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” And, of course, the impact after Jesus’ life was “also immense.” Wallace writes, “As I investigated the literary fallout caused by the explosive appearance of Jesus, I realized it was nearly impossible to erase him from history.”
Jesus impacts virtually every leader, artist, educator, and religious figure, and that this is true within the larger social category of religion, in particular, is especially interesting. As Wallace points out, Christianity failed to morph around anyone who came after Jesus Christ, but almost every major religion adapted to incorporate him.
Person of Interest explores the plausibility of Christianity. Though the idea that God would have spoken through just one religion can seem ridiculous to so many secular westerners, what they miss is that we live in a world that has been so thoroughly shaped by the life and death of Jesus. Person of Interest cuts through all the fog and shows this influence of Jesus clearly.
The investigation by one of America’s best cold case detectives leads to just one conclusion. If the God of the universe was ever going to interact personally with his creation, Jesus of Nazareth is certainly the leading suspect. As Wallace writes, “Jesus didn’t matter because He changed the world. He changed the world because He mattered.”
J. Warner Wallace’s newest book, Person of Interest, hit bookshelves last week. You can get yours by visiting us at BreakPoint.
Publication date: September 29, 2021
Photo courtesy: Mahendra Kumar/Unsplash
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.
John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.