Monday, October 31, 2016

Book Review: Cold-Case Christianity For Kids

Introduction

Several years ago cold-case homicide detective J. Warner Wallace wrote the book Cold-Case Christianity. When Wallace first read the gospels, as an atheist, he noticed that they read like eye-witness accounts that he was used to analyzing everyday. He decided to conduct an investigation of Jesus' resurrection just like a cold-case. Cold-Case Christianity takes the reader through his investigation and encourages the reader to be the "jury" to evaluate the evidence. You can read my full review of it here: Book Review: Cold-Case Christianity.

That book has been quite popular and has helped numerous people to see the evidence for the truth of Christianity. Because of that, Wallace and his wife decided to take the content and adapt it for a younger audience. The result is the book Cold-Case Christianity for Kids.



The Story

Wallace wrote this edition as a story of a police cadet academy, where the new recruits (including the reader) learn how to investigate mysteries. One of the cadets locates an old skateboard that their instructor, Detective Jeffries, uses during their eight-week training to explain the various techniques used to investigate mysteries. The first thing Detective Jeffries explains to the new cadets is to never come to an investigation with their minds already made up- do not be "know-it-alls." One of the cadets asked if Christians were "know-it-alls" for saying that Jesus did miracles and came back from the dead. Detective Jeffries decides to take the cadets on an investigation into the evidence for Jesus' resurrection alongside the mystery of the skateboard. As principles are taught using the skateboard mystery, the cadets then apply them to the claims made in the Bible. The detective teaches eight basic principles to the cadets:
  1. Don't be a "Know-It-All"
  2. Learn how to infer
  3. Think circumstantially
  4. Test your witnesses
  5. Respect the chain of custody
  6. Hang on every word 
  7. Separate artifacts from evidence
  8. Resist conspiracy theories
After learning each one and using it to get closer to the owner of the skateboard, Detective Jeffries asks pointed questions to the cadets to guide them on their application of the principle to the claims in the gospels. As the training and investigation progress, the cadets build their case for the owner of the skateboard and the best explanation for the claims of the Bible. Once the final piece of the skateboard puzzle is discovered and the owner identified, the cadets conclude their investigation of the gospel accounts- discovering that the most logical explanation of the claims of the gospels is that Jesus was actually raised from the dead. 

The Cadet Academy

What is really great is that the experience the kids get is not limited to the book. The way the book is written, the reader is actually one of the cadets. Wallace has created a companion website (ColdCaseChristianityForKids.com) to guide kids and their parents through the same "Cadet Academy" that is in the story. Once the academy is completed the kids receive a certificate that they can show off and use to start conversations with friends and family. 

My Recommendation

I really like how Wallace and his wife converted the content of the original book to an exciting mystery for kids. The book is a great length for kids, and Wallace includes sketches on nearly every page to visually bring the kids into the story, as one of the cadets. The way that Wallace wrote this edition is quite entertaining for kids who like mysteries (or one to may need to get hooked on them). The content taught is presented in ways that are easy to understand. Obviously, I highly recommend this book for kids, but I want to be a bit more specific in my recommendation. As a homeschool family, we do plan to use this as part of our Bible curriculum. I see how this could be quite a fun study in Sunday School or children's church (what kid wouldn't want to tell their friends that they learned to solve mysteries at church?). Of course, this could be a good book for book reports or vacation reading. This is a book that every parent needs to have for their kids. 

More books from J. Warner Wallace


2 comments:

  1. Going through it now with my kids. Its a bit too heavy for my eight year old girl - who is not a big fan of having to think for herself. (which we are working on). My 11 year old boy loves it.

    I recommend going through it slowly, and reviewing the terms that the kids are introduced to, as it will help them better understand and process what is going on as they go through the book. I also recommend listen to Jim's vides on his website, before each chapter.

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  2. Mr. Wallace writes an interesting book comparing murder mysteries with the alleged resurrection of Jesus, but his arguments fall flat.

    Mr. Wallace in chapter two: More recently, some skeptics have offered the theory that one or two of the disciples had a vision of the risen Christ and then convinced the others that these spiritual sighting were legitimate. They argue that additional sightings simply came as a response to the intense influence of the first visions.

    Skeptic: Now we are getting somewhere! This is what I believe and what many skeptical scholars believe probably gave rise to the early Christian Resurrection belief.

    Mr. Wallace: This fails to explain the empty tomb and offers an explanation of the resurrection observations that is inconsistent with the biblical record.

    Skeptic: Maybe there was no empty tomb; a significant number of scholars doubt its historicity; and, Mr. Wallace is assuming that the detailed appearance stories in the Gospels are accurate historical facts…the very issue that is in question!

    Mr. Wallace: It is unusual to have a persuasive witness influence the beliefs of other eyewitnesses. I’ve investigated a number of murders in which one emphatic witness has persuaded others that something occurred, even though the other witnesses weren’t even present to see the event for themselves. But these persuaded witnesses were easily distinguished from the one who persuaded them once I began to ask for their account of what happened.

    Skeptic: Wow! Mr. Wallace has just stated that this naturalistic explanation is not only plausible but he has given evidence that he has experienced this very phenomenon himself when dealing with witnesses in his police investigations! It is possible to influence the testimony of others that they have seen something…even if they weren’t even present at the scene!!!

    Mr. Wallace has just proven the skeptic's case: When people are involved in emotionally-charged situations, such as a murder or the sudden, unexpected, violent death of a friend, their perceptions and memories can be greatly affected. If the apostle Peter, for instance, had a vivid dream (or trance) in which he believed that Jesus had appeared to him in the flesh, talked to him, and even touched him, the very persuasive Peter may well have been able to convince his emotionally exhausted, despondent fellow disciples into believing that their beloved leader and friend was alive again…just as Mr. Wallace’s “emphatic” witness was able to persuade “persuadable” witnesses to see something that they had never seen!!!

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