My ‘Go-To’ Reference for Apologetics: “Evidence That Demands a Verdict”—a book review of the 2017 revision

I jumped at the opportunity to be on the launch team for the updated classic-apologetics book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, and must say, this revision is highly readable, and it contains vital new research that addresses the latest criticisms of the Christian faith.

I have the 1999 copy of New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, and since then, with the terrorists’ attacks on the Twin Towers as the first of many religious-based terror attacks, the New Atheists have caused a roar, challenging the viability of all religions, and vilifying the Christian religion with new vigor. They are not the only ones to give bad press to Christianity. Skeptics on the internet, and those in academia, have also promoted the idea that there is no objective truth, influencing the younger generation to distrust any belief system that makes truth claims. Thus, Josh McDowell, the author of the original book, saw the need to respond to these challenges, but this time, the person who oversaw the revisions and recruited the research team was his son, Dr. Sean McDowell.

Dr. McDowell is one of my professors at Biola University, and he specializes in the defense of the Resurrection event, and did his doctrinal work on the martyrdom of the Apostles.[1] Along with his research team, the updated version brings fresh insight to correct misperceptions that disparage the Christian faith today. There are several new chapters included that will answers questions brought up by modern books, movies, and general internet chatter. One new addition tackles the issue of the Gnostic Gospels and other non-biblical texts. It addresses the so-called “Lost Gospels” that popular books, like The Da Vinci Code, claim will radically transform the views of Christianity. Is there any validity to these claims? This chapter provides answers to show that the Lost Gospels should remain that way—lost. In Part Two of the updated book, a new chapter addresses the Pagan myth theory which claims that Christianity is just a copycat religion. This is a popular internet topic (perpetuated by movies like Zeitgeist) that has been thoroughly debunked in this revised book.

Another excellent addition to Part Two of Evidence That Demands a Verdict is Dr. McDowell’s groundbreaking research into the evidence of the Apostles’ martyrdom. This section provides well-documented proof of the Apostles’ fate. The reason this is important to the case for the Resurrection of Christ is that it shows that the disciples were not indoctrinated to believe from infancy that Jesus would be killed only to rise again, and by doing so, conquer death. Instead, the apostles were converted as adults, and they became thoroughly convinced of this truth after seeing the risen Lord. If what they believed was a lie, then why would they willingly go to their deaths instead of recanting their faith to save their lives? The apostles’ deaths show that they were convinced beyond any doubt of the Resurrection event, giving us more reason to believe that it really occurred.

The section in Part Three of the revision is perhaps the one that I was most interested in because I’m less familiar with these areas of criticism. This section contains the latest research into the ancient near-east influences at the time that the Old Testament was written, the Genesis origin accounts, and a whole chapter dedicated to the historicity of the first man, Adam.

As a Masters student in apologetics, the historicity of Adam is an area in which I’ve done little study. The nuggets of excellent research delving into the ancestry of humankind were fascinating to read, and have equipped me to discuss the issue with a skeptic, if needed. This chapter discusses molecular anthropology, and it covers subjects on the Human Genome Project, the Garden of Eden hypothesis, and the Mitochondrial Eve. All of this suggests that humanity had a recent origin in a single location with a single ancestral line. This is an important discussion because of how it relates to Adam’s central role in the Christian doctrine of original sin.

With over 50 pages of bibliography, a cleaner layout and better printing, this revised version is not only a well-documented book, but it’s easier to read. The only change I would have preferred in the layout would be to list the individual researchers’ names at the beginning of each chapter that they contributed to, rather than a single listing at the beginning of the book.

Overall, this is an excellent “go-to” reference book for anyone interested in having a reflective faith, one that is grounded not only in their personal experiences with God, but in evidence that shows Christianity is a ‘thinkers faith,’ and one that invites intelligent dialogue.

Student winner of an extra copy I had to give away! She was pretty happy to receive it.

For more information about this updated classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, please click here: It certainly is an addition I recommend every Christian add to their book collection.











[1] Dr. Sean McDowell’s doctrinal work is published in The Fate of the Apostles.