Does it seem like the world is moving past Christianity? Does Jesus still matter today? If you’re reading this, chances are you think so. The number of people who agree seems to only shrink with time. Instead, we hear messages like, “You do you. Don’t let religion tell you how to live.” Or “We would all be better off if people stopped believing in fairy tales from the Bible.” In his new book, Person of Interest, J. Warner Wallace explains why Jesus still matters in a world that rejects the Bible.
I had the privilege of reading Person of Interest early to review and get the word out. If you’ve followed Tent Making Christianity very long, you know we’re big fans of J. Warner Wallace. The Cold-Case Detective turned Christian apologist has greatly influenced my life and played a part in this website’s beginnings. His first book, Cold-Case Christianity, is still one of my personal favorites, and the follow-ups of God’s Crime Scene and Forensic Faith are just as good.
Although excited to read anything new he writes, I went into this book with some reservations. It’s another book looking at Jesus with cold-case detective skills. What is going to be different? Does Wallace have another one in him? Those reservations were put away very quickly.
A Brief Summary
Wallace examines Jesus like he would examine a no body homicide. How do you catch a killer when you have no dead body, murder weapon, crime scene, or witnesses? It sounds impossible. Throughout the book, Wallace describes how he did it by examining the murder like a bomb. Every explosion will have a fuse and fallout. Whether a murder or the incarnation of God, every major event inevitably has events leading up to it (The fuse) and an aftermath left behind (The Fallout).
How would you investigate Jesus if every New Testament mysteriously disappeared? Wallace writes what the expectations were of Jesus. What did Old Testament prophecies say? How did other mythologies view God? Then he looked at what Jesus changed, such as science, art, and education. Wallace weaves together the story of his investigation of Jesus with his no body homicide case.
You Will Want to Keep Reading
Your average everyday Christian may not want to read hefty tomes by William Lane Craig or Norm Geisler. That won’t be a problem with Person of Interest. Wallace has always been entertaining to read as he explains bigger concepts with stories from his days as a detective and provides countless visuals to keep the reader engaged. Now he has truly outdone himself by perfectly weaving together the narrative of one single investigation and his personal journey to Christianity with the book’s concepts. You finish one chapter filled with new information and insights and want to immediately start the next to see the next part of the narrative.
So Much Information in So Little Time
That entertainment by no means waters down the content of the book. The sheer volume of research that went into a relatively short book astounds me. Wallace had to deep dive into the history of ancient civilizations, religions, Old Testament prophecy, science, education, arts, film, music, and more. The book gives the research results, but he lists extremely detailed notes in the back of the book for anyone hoping to do their own research. Even if every copy of the New Testament suddenly disappeared, we could reconstruct the gospel message from these different fields.
Why Take This Approach?
Person of Interest is a bit less traditional apologetics than his previous work. I tried to read it with two lenses in mind. First, how does this help me as a Christian? Second, if I were a skeptic, how persuasive would I find it?
As a Christian, this book was unique and educational. It delves into subjects that you rarely find in other apologetics and theology books. For that reason, if you are trying to get into more traditional apologetics, I would recommend reading something like Tactics or Cold-Case Christianity first. I found the material extremely reassuring. Even after years of studying apologetics, I still find myself in moments and seasons of doubt. Maybe I believe in God, but how confident am I that I believe in the right one? What if I got it wrong? Then comes a book like Person of Interest that smacks me in the face for why Jesus still matters.
For the skeptic, this book is powerful. The last thing most skeptics want is to read a long and dry book trying to convince them that Christianity is true. Person of Interest seems to take a more modest goal. What if there was an engaging book that, rather than trying to persuade that Christianity is true, just tried to demonstrate that it’s important? Greg Koukl talks about how his goal in evangelism is to put a stone in someone’s shoe. Give them something small that annoys them in a good way until they have to stop and deal with it. Person of Interest drops a giant rock that cannot be ignored.