“Jesus may have been a nice guy and a good teacher, but that was all he was.”
Honestly, I’ve always had a touch of rebellion in me. Growing up in a small Bible-belt town, I was one of very few people claiming to be an atheist. One huge reason I rejected religion (and particularly Christianity) was a lack of evidence.
“I only believe what I can prove with science,” I boldly claimed. “The Bible is a bunch of stuff a bunch of guys wrote. They were trying to explain things they didn’t know. We pretty much know all that stuff now. Science has explained it.”
I didn’t exactly go on a quest for truth. I didn’t seem necessary. None of the Christians I talked to could answer my questions. They had one consistent answer for me. “You just have to have faith.” I felt like they wanted me to turn off my brain. If they didn’t have answers, I assumed answers weren’t out there. My worldview was largely unchallenged, so I thought I must be right. Plus, it was kind of nice to live a life free from the fear of some controlling, cosmic grandpa who delighted in punishing us when we stepped outside his completely unreasonable lines. No thanks. Not for me.
Obviously, I wasn’t the first person to wander this path. I now know that countless others have clung to similar views. It’s even in vogue now.
A couple of decades before my high school years, Josh McDowell had many of the same objections to the Christian faith. Unlike me, he dove into it for himself. His quest was to empirically prove his Christian friends wrong, once and for all. Years of meticulous, global study into the historical evidence led him to a surprising, undeniable conclusion. It was true. Not only was Jesus a real historical figure, there is compelling historical evidence he performed miracles, was crucified, and resurrected. The Bible is a historically reliable book. Our Old Testament was accurately transmitted from generation to generation, and this is provable. The Biblical contradictions I found in my atheist literature were easily explained with sound, reasonable, repeatable, and consistent interpretive techniques. Piece after piece fell into place for Josh. He wrote it all down and published it a couple of years before I was born.
In all those years of arrogant posturing, I had no idea such a resource existed. McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” is a presentation of an accumulation of facts that must be faced and dealt with by any seeker of truth. This evidence lead him to a clear conclusion…Jesus was not merely a good man and good teacher. He was exactly who he claimed to be…the son of God, sent to earth as the redeemer of mankind. The claims of Christianity are true. Empirically and undeniably. Even the miracles.
The reason I tell you all this is because I finally got my hands on the book. A new edition has been released, which has been expanded and updated by Josh and his son Sean. While largely building a case based on historical evidence, it also addresses popular philosophical questions too. It touches on the post-modern claim that there is no such thing as absolute truth, or that if there is, it can’t truly be known. It addresses objections to miracles by stating and answering objections by Hume, Spinoza, and countless others. It’s a comprehensive guide for both skeptics and believers.
Even with all this content, my favorite part of this book is Josh McDowell’s testimony, which opens the book. As compelling as the objective evidence is, hearing what McDowell endured as a child and then seeing how God has redeemed those lost years and healed his heart is powerful. To understand the broken view of fatherhood that Josh knew as a child, and then read his testimony in a book coauthored by Josh and his own son…it brings tears of joy.
Someday I’d like to write a conversation between my old and new selves. I’d like to be that person with answers that the younger me never could find. Perhaps it could help open a few eyes to the truth behind the hope that I have within me. When I write that, this book will likely be by my side, providing clarity as I respond to that young man…the young me…who so desperately wanted the truth but didn’t know where to look.
Whether you’re a Christian or not, you owe it to yourself to explore these topics. If there is even the most remote chance that Christianity is true, it’s the most important question in life. Plus, it is even more critical that a believer today be able to rationally defend and share his or her faith. Non-believers must ask themselves “if Christianity were proven to be true, would I convert?” If the answer is yes, this one book contains most of the evidence for you to examine and decide. If the answer is no, you aren’t seeking truth after all. That, by itself, is incredibly enlightening.
Disclaimer: I was honored to be on the launch team for the new edition of “Evidence that Demands a Verdict.” While there was no direct compensation for participation on this team and my enthusiasm for this volume is very real, I wanted to mention that I was given an advanced look at this work.