Consider the Evidence: A Trial Lawyer Examines the Eyewitnesses in Defense of the Reliability of the New Testament – An Apologist’s Thoughts
As an apologist, I deal frequently with evidence and argumentation. The Christian is bombarded with objection after objection to the faith such that evidence and argumentation becomes very important. Unfortunately, the average Christian is ill-equipped to deal with such things and so they often retreat into silence and timidity. However, this need not be the case. The Christian position can be thoroughly defended; indeed, we are commanded to defend it (1 Peter 3:15). In all my years of defending the faith, the most common objections and attacks are aimed at the reliability of the Bible. It is for this reason that “Consider the Evidence” is such a vital apologetic read.
When delving into the study of the reliability of the New Testament documents, admittedly, it can be very intimidating and difficult. The subject is vast and requires the inquirer to be familiar with not only history, but how historical investigation is done. It is here where I would like to focus on the first positive of Dan Buttafuoco’s book, Consider the Evidence. It is a relatively easy read! Dan has utilized his talents of clarity and simplicity to put the biblical evidence on display in an understandable and digestible way. This allows the reader to be firmly educated in the vital issues of New Testament reliability without getting lost in the scholarly jargon and details. Furthermore, Dan’s experience as a Trial Lawyer definitely comes through in his attention to detail and ability to examine witnesses and evidence. For these reasons and more, this is a must read. To give a taste of the basic outline of the book, let us briefly survey the overall themes that Dan covers and explain why they are so important.
First, Dan explains the historical significance and impact the Bible has had on human history. While not in and of itself proof that the Bible is true, I see an examination of the Bible’s historical significance a good place to start in building a case for the weightiness and importance of the topic about to be covered. Dan highlights also the important fact that the Bible itself “is not just a collection of stories; its also a historical document.” I think Dan raises a very significant point here. We need to look beyond the fact that the Bible contains stories, and place those stories within the context of history. After highlighting these truths, and exploring the language, culture and history with which the Bible relates, he discusses briefly what is entailed by affirming the bible to be what it claims to be. In other words, if the Bible is the Word of God, then not only are its historical affirmations important, but it conveys and discloses truths about God. So the stakes are high when considering whether the Bible is true or not.
Secondly, Dan covers some pretty common apologetic territory, but important nonetheless. He explores the testimony of those who witnessed Jesus ministry, miracles, and resurrection. With a cross-examining mind set, Dan asks the difficult questions and gets to the core issues as to why the testimony of the witnesses should be trusted. Dan says, “Now, I’m a lawyer, and I cross examine people for a living. If you just ask people a few questions on the witness stand, they often crumble like a cheap suit.” Speaking from my own experience, I know this to be true. Yet, when cross-examining the witnesses to Jesus, this is not at all the case and Dan demonstrates this. He clearly demonstrates the stark differences between dying for what you “believe” to be true, and dying for what you “know” to be false; the latter of which is quite implausible to do.
Thirdly, Dan treads through what is usually deep waters in exploring the textual accuracy of the Bible. In scholarly studies this field is known as textual criticism and is usually too deep for the average layperson to take the time to plow through. But Dan simplifies without being simplistic and helps the reader understand in an easy way, how the Bible is indeed the most accurately copied of ancient documents. Again, accurate copying does not entail the truth of what is copied, but accurate copying is a link in the chain of more evidence that strengthens the case for the Bible. For those who are frequently engaged in apologetics, this section of the book will be of great help since the nature of the topic can equip one to respond to many common objections put forth by Muslims, Mormons, and secularists who often challenge the accuracy of the Bible transmission process.
Fourthly, Dan moves seamlessly from the head to the heart as he explains the life changing power of the Gospel. Indeed, this is an important point in apologetics that should never be forgotten, and it gives a good balance to what Dan has presented up until this point in his book. The intellectual equipment used to defend the bible must cater to the transition from head to heart, since the goal of apologetics is to remove obstacles and watch the Holy Spirit work through the use of your witness and the utilization and proclamation of his Word. This is often overlooked in books on apologetics and I was happy to read that Dan addressed this issue.
Lastly, Dan brings the reader to the real focus which is Jesus himself. He takes the time to examine Jesus’s claims and what they meant for the first hearers and to the modern reader. I highly recommend “Consider the Evidence” because 1) It is a good read, 2) It addresses the major apologetic issue of our day: Accuracy of the Bible 3) And it equips the reader with a strong evidenced based way to present the facts to the skeptic. This is definitely a book one should have access to if they desire to stay equipped.