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Table of Contents

LEGAL APOLOGETICS: PRINCIPLES OF THE LAW OF EVIDENCE
AS APPLIED IN THE QUEST FOR RELIGIOUS TRUTH.

Henry Hock Guan Teh

Introduction

Is there any exhaustive proof for the existence of God or the claims of a particular faith? If in the sense that such evidence must be 100% beyond a shadow of a doubt with scientific and mathematical certainty, then the answer would be undisputedly and absolutely in the negative. All my non-Christian friends responded with a silent and rendering a blank stare when I asked them, “What do you mean by 100% proof?” or “What are the absolute criteria or circumstances that can fully convince you that Jesus is the way to God?” Often after giving them some time to search their mind, I would interrupt their gawky silence by asking whether they would be 100% sure and convinced as the best evidence if I bring God or Jesus down from heaven now and introduce to them. Almost all of them agreed that there would still be room for doubt.

They are right (although not absolutely) because all of the historical events or our daily activities we rely on could not be proven beyond any shred of a doubt with precise certainty. No one single case in the court of trial can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. That is why the standard of proofs in the courts is either proof beyond a reasonable doubt for criminal cases or balance of probability for civil matters. Even if the accused pleaded guilty, one may not be absolutely sure that he actually committed the crime. The confession may be caused by various factors and circumstances such as some form of duress, necessity for confession to escape pressure, doubt their own memory and temporarily believe in their guilt because of disorientation, admission of an offence committed without understanding the substance of admission, interrogative suggestibility which affect that subsequent behavioural response, or merely they are just a compulsive confessor.

The philosopher David Hume gave the answer to that a couple of centuries ago, when he said that even if someone came back from the dead and lived on earth again and was seen by millions, he still would not believe—because according to Hume, God simply doesn’t work miracles and no amount of evidence would ever convince him. Even if we had films of the Resurrection or tape recordings of the Risen Lord speaking to His disciples, people would always say they were faked, or interpret them in another way.[1] With such man’s natural attitude and the limitation of any earthly methodology for obtaining absolute proof, the suggestion of procuring 100% evidence is ruled out.

In these circumstances, the pivotal question is how could one decide to commit without absolute proof? Even without sufficient proof, belief was the wisest bet, as the French philosopher and a mathematical prodigy, Pascal concluded that the believer will either have bliss if he is right or oblivion if he is wrong, whereas the unbeliever has the less attractive alternatives of oblivion or damnation. But believing is not gambling where we place our bet by chance, risking our stake without reasonable intellectual and moral examination. One would be unwise to make a decision in committing himself to cross a road, without assessing sufficient evidence that he will have a high probability of crossing the road safely. Obviously, out of the two i.e. belief or non-belief, the better punt would be belief but it is not God’s intention that man put his trust in God like laying his bet on a casino’s roulette board. Neither would it be morally and intellectual reasonable for man to exercise such blind faith.

If everybody applies Pascal’s circumspection, no one would cross the road without 100% proof. It can be concluded from this line of reasoning that if the belief is safe to cross (without any assessment of the surrounding circumstances), the active pedestrian will either successfully cross over if he is right, or knocked down if he is wrong, whereas the passive pedestrian will still be alive whether he is right or wrong. Here, the wisest bet is the belief that it is not safe to cross. Such analogy may be a little bit too far-fetched, as our daily lives fortunately do not work that way. But one thing is clear—making wise decisions always depends on various factors even though it does not provide us with 100% guarantee. We assesses the situation and after satisfied that there are enough evidences to convince us that it is safe to go to the other side of the road (although without any scientific data provided that there will be certainly no earthquake or any sudden cardiac arrest), we undertake to have our whole self across the road.

Secondly, if there were only two bets to put our stake on, Pascal’s reasoning would be appropriate, as belief of the existence of God would be the wiser bet. However, the true fact is that there are hundreds of religious faiths with multi-flavoured philosophies and betting anyone of them without intelligently assessing its evidence that could convince of its truth beyond reasonable doubt is likened to betting on the National Lottery.

Furthermore, there are a vast numbers of man-made philosophies regarding the meaning of life and its interrelationship with the Maker within the physical and spiritual realm and so forth. Different philosophies do sound pleasing and logical which may be applicable to a particular era and culture. Many Christian theologians and apologists have often relied on philosophical method of reasoning to reinforce their preaching. For example, Augustine depended on Plato, and likewise Aquinas borrowed extensively from Aristotle. As these classical philosophies began to decline, giving way to the modern rationalism in the 18th century (Kant, Lessing, Hume), non-Christians have generally presumed that no meaningful defence of Christian faith is possible. In the final analysis, religion is merely a question of personal feelings and Christian themselves have often bolster such presumption by declaring that Christianity starts from its own presupposition faith-experience and cannot either be proved or disproved by factual evidence.

John Warwick Montgomery, the renowned theologian, philosopher and lawyer vehemently pointed out the necessity for reasoning in Christian witness. He wrote:

The twentieth-century world, growing steadily smaller as the communication revolution continues, displays a religious pluralism experientially unknown to our grandfathers and remarkably similar to the heterogenous religious situation in the Roman Empire during the first century. Sects and cults proliferate; philosophies of life, explicit and implicit, vie for our attention; and older, previously dormant religions, such as Buddhism and Islam, are engaged in vigorous proselytising. All about us ultimate concerns spring up, each claiming to be more ultimate, more worthy of our total commitment, than the other. In the university world the pluralistic cacophony is louder than perhaps anywhere else: materialism. Idealism, pragmatism, communism, hedonism, mysticism, existentialism, and a hundred other options present themselves to the college student in classrooms, bull-sessions student organizations, political rallies, and social activities.

   What is the non-Christian to do, when amid this din he hears the Christian message? Are we Christians so naïve as to think that he will automatically, ex opere operato, accept Christianity as true and put away world-views contradicting it? And if we call out to him, “Just try Christianity and you will find that it proves itself experientially,” do we really think that he will not at the same time hear precisely the same subjective-pragmatic appeal from numerous other quarters?[2]

It is unfortunate that non-Christians perceive the church as bankrupt in their reasoning and the Christians themselves having no zeal to develop their mind except to concentrate on the subjective spiritual and emotional edification. Notwithstanding their strong personal faith in God, their want of adequate reasoning and evidence would be a constant impediment in evangelism to those who think and require a little bit more. Apparently, it would be difficult to convince the non-Christians that Christianity, unlike other religions, is not merely a genuine faith-experience and life changing religion but also a verifiable intelligent faith.

A few years ago, Jimmy Swaggart debated Ahmad Deedat, a Muslim apologist from South Africa. The debate is on the reasonableness of their competing faiths which was held at Louisiana State University. Great expectations were generated since both were experienced public speakers. Sadly, Swaggart merely relied on TV showmanship to influence the crowd. When Deedat challenged him to prove the Bible as the Word of God, Swaggart simply quoted John 3:16 and claimed that his life was changed by it. Even such a claim was shattered to pieces when Swaggart’s personal sexual weaknesses were later exposed in the press. Although faith is necessary but without being thoughtfully presented its witness would not seem to be credible.

Therefore, upon the above premise, that is, it is an undisputable fact that there is no exhaustive proof (or else exercising faith would be redundant) and it will not be totally effective having Jesus appear in front of certain modern and highly technology sophisticated man in this so-called information age. Man has always been arrogant and sceptical even since during the time of Moses. Time and time again, God’s provision and miracles performed in front of the Israelites and yet many among them chose not to believe. With this, one cannot insist on 100% proof for it is impracticable and even if there is, hypothetically, man will not accept. Each has its own standard: 100% will never be purely one hundred per cent acceptable. We just have to humble ourselves and sincerely judge for ourselves the evidences available to us.

For those who are honest and objectively open, there are sufficient evidences to help in making an intelligent decision. Harvard Law School Professor, Simon Greenleaf in the opening paragraph of his article, Testimony of the Evangelist, clearly explained that ‘in examining the evidences of the Christian religion, it is essential to the discovery of truth’, that one investigate with a free mind, ‘from existing prejudice, and open to conviction. There should be readiness, on our part, to investigate with candor, to follow the truth wherever it may lead us, and to submit, without reserve or objection to all the teachings of this religion, if it be found to be of divine origin.’[3]

Application of Law of Evidence

Is there an appropriate field of study to ascertain the truth? Obviously, the answer would be yes or else it would be absurd to rely on the judiciary and its legal mechanism in assessing the true facts. Legal science should be the most appropriate field of study to assess the reliability and veracity of Christianity simply because its legal evidential principles have developed meticulous criteria for distinguishing factual truth from error. It provides guidelines to sieve away the irrelevant and inadmissible facts or arguments, whilst properly evaluating and admitting the relevant evidences. It deduces evidences derive from various field of studies such as psychology, history, archaeology, medicine, forensic science, logic, etc. to reach a verdict.

All religion, unless it is based on mythology, has a historical origin, the claims of its founder and the process of its establishment. These are all past events occurred in history. Merely proving the existence of both the teacher and his teaching are not enough. Its claims, the life and circumstances of its founder, reliability of its scriptures/ religious writings, the coherence of its philosophy, the fulfilment of prophesies and performance of miracles (if any), and as for Christianity, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are all relevant historical events that need to be proven. Thus, the legal evidential principles would be a guide to the inquiry of the respective religion’s past events and claims. The main purpose of which is to establish to an acceptable degree of probability those past events which it is claimed entitling the adjudicator to come to a reasonable verdict.

Stressing the point again, it is a fact from human experience that it is impossible to ascertain the truth of past events with scientific or mathematical certainty. Although certain scientific proof (deduced from repeated experiments within a closed and controlled environment) provides much contribution in a trial, the law of evidence recognise that it is not possible to ascertain the ultimate truth of the past events inquired into, which happened once within a specific time and space. However, in a court of law, it use a variety of evidences and especially reliable historical evidences such as documentary evidence written in the past or testimony of witnesses who explained the facts they experienced in the past. All the various evidences admissible in court may be fragmentary but so long it is sufficient and consistent enough to outweigh any reasonable doubt, the court can come to a reliable and sensible decision. It would be wrong to say that because there is no certainty or the evidences are fragmentary in nature, we should not and cannot come to an objective conclusion. Just because we cannot prove with 100% certainty any food place before us is safe for consumption, that does not necessary mean we refrain from eating at all. Even to the point that assuming everybody has a cupbearer (human or an animal), for every meal, still there will never be a 100% certainty the food is not poisonous to their stomach alone. Our decision to eat derives from the fragmentary evidences we subconsciously evaluated. You have consistently eaten this type of food, many others have tried before, the aroma was pleasant to the nose, the cook was your wife whom all this while is trustworthy (though cannot prove that she’ll be trustworthy forever), the expiry date shown on the can, the unlikelihood of mass murder by poison, etc. are all fragmentary evidences. This reminds me of Pollock CB, employing the analogy of a rope in the case of R v Exall, which he said, ‘One strand of the cord might be insufficient to sustain the weights, but three stranded together may be quite of sufficient strength. Thus, it may be in circumstantial evidence—there may be a combination of circumstances, no one of which would raise a reasonable conviction, or more than a mere suspicion; but the whole, taken together, may create a strong conclusion of guilt, that is, with as much certainty as human affairs can require or admit of.’[4]

Geisler explains, “the fact that accounts of history are fragmentary does not destroy objectivity … history needs to be less objective than geology simply because it depends on fragmentary accounts. Scientific knowledge is also partial and depends on assumption and an overall framework which may be prove to be inadequate upon the discovery of more facts. Whatever difficulty there may be, from a strictly scientific point of view, in filling in the gaps between the facts, once one has assumed a philosophical stance towards the world, the problem of objectivity in general is resolved. If there is a God, then the overall picture is already drawn; the facts of history will merely fill in the details of its meaning.” Geisler continued, “the fact that the historian must select his materials does not automatically make history purely subjective. Jurors make judgments ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ without having all the evidence. If the historian has the relevant and crucial evidence, it will be sufficient to attain objectivity. One need not know everything in order to know something.”[5]

However, it does not mean that we do not need any evidence at all and neither should we rely on a few equivocal evidences subjectively only within our comprehension. Many religions do not appeal to historical or any kind of evidences which can be objectively perceived by the court of law as concrete facts, as contrast to mere subjective opinion or ‘spiritual’ experiences. To them, as long it is subjectively satisfactory of which many may experienced similar fulfilment, it would be enough for them to confidently claim as one of the true world religions that provide spiritual contentment/enlightenment or at least, a hope. Subjectivity is not a definite wrong element of evidence, but it will always beg the question whether it is true. Non-truth may satisfy if its devotee agrees with them whilst truth cannot satisfy if one with all his heart disagree and rejects them. Anyone who do not concede to their subjective emotional standards or concept for dictating their process of decision-making, they would conclude that truth backed up by adequate evidences is ultimately the only thing that will genuinely satisfy their whole worldview, with or without any personal faith-experience. Basically, it is because our hearts cannot rejoice on what our minds rejects. James Sire concluded that, ‘if we think or even remotely suspect that something in our grasp of reality is illusory, we have a crack that may widen into a fissure of doubt and split the peace of our world into an intellectual civil war.’[6] To determine the truth, one criteria is that the claim must be ‘able to comprehend the data of reality—data of all types—that which each of us gleans through our conscious experience of daily life, that which is supplied by critical analysis and scientific investigation, that which is reported to us from experience of others.’[7] A careful evaluation of such investigation will help us conclude whether a religious claim is an adequate verifiable fact or sheer illusory.

Thus, the issue of testability is utmost important especially for the claim of the historic Christianity. The Christian faith declares that the truth of its absolute claims rest squarely on certain historical facts, always open to investigation. If there are no adequate evidences for the man Jesus, His presentation of Himself as God in human flesh, and the resurrection from the dead as proof of His Deity, then Christianity are no better than any mythology. Unless any facts that can substantiate, its faith experience and claims of personal relationship with God are merely illusory. Hence, its ideology may stands equal with worldview such as naturalism, Eastern pantheistic monism, New Age philosophy or postmodern perspective since none of them can adequately account for the possibility of genuine knowledge, the facticity of the eternal universe or the existence of ethical distinctions.

Professor John Warwick Montgomery reasoned whereby just as ‘issues of life and death are necessary decided and man’s societal fate is determined[8] by the rules of evidence, it is imperative that legal reasoning is applied in Christian apologetics. Because it is the function of evidential law to strife for justice even ‘to the end that the truth may be ascertained’[9] or at least to establish that a version of what occurred has an acceptable probability of being correct, its application is utmost useful in the quest for the veracity of any religious truth. Apologetically, any religious faith that cannot stand the test through this accepted method of arbitrating the ultimate questions in society, one would be equitably entitled to doubt its claims. Adverse inferences should be drawn on any religions attempting to avoid this fundamental test of the law of evidence as administered in the courts of justice.

All civilized or primitive societies have some kind of legal techniques to ascertain the actual facts in a dispute. These techniques are refined through experience until they reach a level of sophistication satisfying to litigants who otherwise would breach the peace to settle their conflicts.[10] The fundamental claim of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus Christ as proof of His deity. All other claims, although not irrelevant, are subsidiary and everything stands or fall on the resurrection. The Apostle Paul himself acknowledged that ‘if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain’.[11]

Several important questions requiring adequate evidence usually will crop up before reaching the verdict ensued from the resurrection. Did Jesus resurrect from the dead? Yes. Who say so? The authors of the gospels. But can they be trusted? Yes. But maybe their original writings were mistakenly altered through time. So, are the writings reliably preserved? Yes. But in the first place, have they recorded the true facts and sayings of Jesus? Could the gospels be a religious propaganda with lots of stories concocted to draw more followers? Are there any reliable external evidences to collaborate their claims? Yes. But how do the early Christians conclude that Jesus was the Son of God? Maybe Jesus’ death was a sham and His resurrection a hoax? These are some of the many questions that constantly repeated like a broken gramophone.

Examples of Specific Evidential Rules

Historical facts as evaluated by the law of evidence well sustain these questions as will be seen from the application of several specific evidential rules. This paper will not cover or attempt to answer all the controversial questions and accusation forwarded against the claims of Christianity. The focus here is to lay down some fundamental principles of the law of evidence to demonstrate the importance of applying legal reasoning in the investigation of the truth of Christianity. Even with these few examples, it should be more than adequate to yield most significant results that demand your honest verdict.

The following is written on a hypothesis of a criminal charge against Christianity as a whole, especially for the ‘crime’ of claiming Jesus’ divinity.  However, at the defence stage, the documentary and other evidences are authentic whilst the defence is as though submitted by the lawyers as required by the court of law.[12] Obviously, it is assumed that you, the reader is both judge and jury. It is expected of you to be open-minded and fair, pronouncement of your verdict should be based on the weight of the facts and not on your whims, prejudices or unproven conjectures. Credibility of the witnesses together with the reliability of their testimonies and other expert evidences should be thoughtfully considered.

Burden and Standard of Proof

The standard of proof has already briefly discussed above. Since hypothetically this is a criminal case, generally, the standard imposes on the prosecution is a high standard of proof. If it is a civil matter, then the standard is on a balance of probability. Either standard, it is practically impossible and illogical for the court to insist on 100% evidence.

Subject to exceptional cases, the burden of proof in a criminal case rests upon the prosecution simply because he who alleged must prove. Those who alleged that there is no God must have the burden of proving His inexistence, instead of bombarding Christians with conjectures. In our case, it rests upon the unbeliever to disprove the testimonial value of the gospels, not upon the Christians to build up support for documents already having prima facie legal authenticity. In the celebrated case of Woolminton v DPP, the House of Lords held that ‘… it is the duty of the prosecution to prove the prisoner’s guilt … If, at the end of and on the whole of the case, there is a reasonable doubt … the prosecution has not made out the case … the prisoner is entitled to an acquittal’.[13] In other words, if the prosecutor (unbeliever) failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus Christ’s claims are false, the verdict should be in favour for the Christians. In a sense, throughout the trial, the believer might as well fold his hands and remain silent because it is unlikely for the prosecution to discharge its high standard of proof. Comically, in such a case, there is no necessity for apologia (defence) in evangelism and this article might as well end here.

However, it is the Christians’ ‘religious responsibility’ as commanded to ‘be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you’ (1 Peter 3:15). The word translated ‘answer’ here is the Greek apologia which means ‘a defence of conduct and procedure’. By God’s divine will, He has left us with an abundance of evidences of which it would be unwise not to use them.

Presumptions

Since Christianity is based on the New Testament and the sayings of Christ as written in the gospels, the Christians undoubtedly will rely on them as the primary source of evidence. Therefore, getting the judge at the preliminary stage, to give a ruling on its inadmissibility would be of the greatest advantage to the prosecution. Not only it will be unfair on the level of common sense, it would be almost impossible for it to be ruled out because of the law of presumptions. Presumption or prima facie evidence is evidence which is declared (usually by statute) to be sufficient evidence of a fact, unless and until an opponent adduces contradictory evidence. As the manuscripts concerned are nearly two thousand years old and together with the circumstances surrounding it, they fall under the category of ancient documents which is admissible in court through the law of presumptions.

This law presumes that private documents of 20 years or more[14] produced from proper custody, and otherwise free from suspicion, prove themselves, and no evidence of the handwriting, signature, sealing or delivery need, in general, be given. The rule applies to wills, deeds requiring attestation, accounts, letters, entries, receipts and settlement certificates,[15] as well as, it has been through, to all other documents, public of private.[16] Naturally, the New Testament fall under this principle as it could be considered as a collection of letters and documents, private and/or public. It was held in Meath v Winchester[17] that such ancient documents would be sufficient to be in the proper custody that is deposit with a person and in a place where, if authentic, it might naturally and reasonably be expected to be found, even though there might be another which would be more strictly and absolutely proper. This is precisely the case with the NT manuscripts. They have been used in the church from time immemorial, and thus are found in the place where might naturally and reasonably be expected to be found. Professor Greenleaf of Harvard succinctly explained that these Sacred Writings are:

‘… found in familiar use in all the churches of Christendom, as the sacred books to which all denominations of Christians refer, as the standard of their faith. There are no pretense that they were engraven on plates of gold and discovered in a cave, nor that they were brought from heaven by angels; but they are received as the plain narratives and writings of the men whose names they respectively bear, made public at the time they were written; and though there were some slight discrepancies among the copies subsequently made, there is no pretense that the originals were anywhere corrupted. If it be objected that the originals are lost, and that copies are now produced, the principles of the municipal law here also afford a satisfactory answer. For the multiplication of copies was a public fact, in the faithfulness of which all the Christian community had an interest …’[18]

Hence, the prosecution here will never get the court to rule out the admissibility of the New Testaments documents, as long as it is produced from proper custody and is on its face free from suspicion, and circumstances exist which corroborate its authenticity.[19] The onus to prove that it is not free from suspicion is on the prosecutor.

Facts in Issue & Relevancy

Facts in issue are those necessary by law to establish the claim, liability or defence, forming the subject matter of the proceedings; and which are in dispute between the parties. In deciding whether evidence of a fact is admissible, it is important to ask whether the fact is relevant. The Australia Evidence Act 1995 (Commonwealth) provides that ‘the evidence that is relevant in a proceeding is evidence that, if it were accepted, could rationally affect (directly or indirectly) the assessment of probability of the existence of a fact in issue in the proceeding.’[20]

The facts in issue is the divinity of Jesus Christ whilst the evidence relevant that needed to be tendered are the historical facts demonstrated in the life, death and resurrection happened within time and space dimension. There are tendency that irrelevant conjecture will surface to sidetrack the assessment of the probability of the existence of the facts in issue, of which is interesting for academic discussion, but would be irrelevant and therefore should be inadmissible as it will not lead to any objective verdict. Only historical facts need to be proven and not philosophical ideology arguments that can only gratify certain thinkers. Lord Simon of Glaisdale in R v Kilbourne clearly held that ‘evidence is relevant if it is logically probative or disprobative of some matter which requires proof’.[21] Viscount Simon is also right in his warning that the phrase ‘logical probative’ “may seem to invite philosophical discussion which would be ill suited to the practical business of applying the criminal law with justice to all concerned.”[22] The ultimate criterion for any philosophical discussion is the requirement of proof as stated above by Lord Simon.

Questions like why God must love this terrible and ungrateful world but yet gave his Son to die under the hands of the Jews (or actually evidences ascribe culpability on the Romans) are theological questions, of which could not prove whether the fact that God demonstrated His love through the death of His Son. Although it is the most important theological issue of which all mankind (especially those profess to be Christians) should know, such relevance would not rationally affect the assessment of the probability of the existence of the facts in issue. In a criminal case, whatever the assumed motive may sound probable, it can never outweigh any proven facts contrary to it. Thus, arguing on God’s motive why He love us will not make in existence the facts in issue more probable or less probable.

For another example, philosophical arguments on problems of evil are not a fact in issue here. To insist on any proof or logical explanation why God allow evil would be futile, as it can never prove the authenticity of the claims of Christ. On the other hand, once the historical facts of Christ are proven, the philosophical and theological claims will have a stronger foundation. Once the resurrection is proven, it would be irrelevant to substantiate the claims of Christianity by asking why Jesus talked to Himself in the garden of Gethsemane or how can God beget a child or why the illogicalness of degrading the Almighty to become man subject to the cruel torture of His creatures.

Best Evidence

In Omychund v Barker, the best evidence rule was described as ‘the best that the nature of the case will permit’.[23] This would commonly mean whatever nature of the fact admitted, or that the circumstances would allow, or that the party could produce. Obviously, the best primary evidence is to produce the original New Testament documents and the sworn oral testimony of its firsthand eyewitnesses. Unfortunately, like all ancient manuscript, it was made of perishable materials and cannot survive for any length of time. None of its eyewitnesses or its authors is available to testify in court, as they are all dead. Hence, to insist on the production of the originals and the firsthand eyewitness as the only and best evidence would be impossible. Therefore, the best evidence available is the existing copies of the NT manuscript, which the nature of fact or the circumstances would allow.

Several case laws[24] have shown that non-production of the originals would not be fatal. ‘Substitutionary evidence’ like hearsay evidence, secondary evidence or proof of attested documents otherwise than by the attesting witnesses, can also be considered as the ‘best evidence’ circumstances would allow. It is not true that the best evidence must, or even may, always be given, though its non-production may be a matter for comment or affect the weight of that which is produced. All admissible evidence is generally equally accepted. Thus, circumstantial evidence may also be admissible even though there is no direct evidence.

Hearsay Rule

Fundamentally, hearsay evidence at common law is generally inadmissible. However, this hearsay rule has now been virtually abolished for civil proceedings by the Civil Evidence Act 1995, and at present, there are many statutory exceptions in criminal cases.[25] The main criteria remains whether such evidence should be admissible is the relevancy in determining whether procedural preconditions for its admission have been satisfied or to the weight to be attributed to it. If it is relevant, then the hearsay evidence is admissible.

Prosecution in our case here will almost definitely jump up to object against its relevancy. He may almost certainly try to convince the judge that it is not the best evidence, or even if such evidence was the ‘best’ obtainable, that hearsay evidences are relatively untrustworthy for judicial processes. The reasons the prosecution may conjure are that (1) the authors are irresponsible because their statements were made neither on oath, nor subject to cross-examination; (2) the depreciation of truth in the process of repetition; (3) the opportunities for fraud and exaggeration its admission would open; (4) the tendency of such evidence to protract legal enquiries; or (5) it will encourage the substitution of weaker for stronger proofs. The courts would certainly overrule its objection because as long there is no injustice done, any high probability of its untrustworthiness or it is dangerously misleading second-hand evidence, and if the finder of fact remains free to disbelieve the admitted hearsay, then there is no reason why it should not be admitted. For the real issue, after all, is the inherent reliability of the evidence. As Dr. Montgomery say: “To be sure, the underlying principle of the hearsay rule remains vital: that a witness ought to testify ‘of his own knowledge or observation.’”[26]

In addition, Phipson on ‘Evidence’ wrote that hearsay evidences are not exclude on the grounds of irrelevancy. He correctly explains that hearsay evidence “cannot truly be called irrelevant. A belief in hearsay is often regarded as instinctive; at all events it is universally sanctioned by experience, since nine-tenths of the world’s business is conducted on its basis; and the fact that relaxations of the rule excluding it are constantly sanctioned by statute is significant both of its logical and legal value. It would be more correct therefore to say that all hearsay connected with the issue is, and must to some extent be, ‘relevant’, whether in law it be admissible or not.”[27] This is how European countries and other countries that apply civil law tradition, to a certain extent view it. To them, all hearsay evidences connected to the issue are relevant and as long as they are good, they should be accepted. After all, the admission does not restrict their discretion to believe in its truth or not. As for the NT documents, they are considered evidence that is good in the sense that the contents of the Gospels would allow the court the opportunity to consider its assertions about the historicity of Jesus found in the Gospels. It is also good evidence because they are written by those, such as Matthew and John who had immediate, firsthand, eyewitness contact with Jesus, or by others (Mark, Luke, Paul) who were intimately acquainted with the apostolic circle.

Once the obstacles of strict hearsay and best evidence rule are overcome, the ‘defendant’ believer actually need not offer any further proof since the burden is on the prosecution to disprove the testimonial value of these apostolic books. However, we do not merely want an acquittal and the charge dismissed. Some ultra sceptics will consider this as a stalemate. We want to bring a ‘conviction’ upon the judge/jury and everyone in the courtroom that the NT documents are reliable and thus substantiate the claims of Christ. The Creator in His grace has preserve such an abundance of evidence for us to use not at the measure of prima facie evidence only but to the convincing evidence that goes beyond any reasonable doubt. The following are some of the evidences that a court of law can rely on to prove the case for Christ.

Expert Opinion Evidence

This is one of the most important types of evidence. Here the ‘defendant’ believer may call upon experts to provide their special knowledge and competence, supporting it with evidences such as other documents, facts, forensic or even scientific evidences to prove the facts in issue. Such evidence is justified by the fact that the court would be unable, unaided, to draw proper inferences and form proper opinions from such specialised facts as might be proved. It does not mean that our ‘judge’ here cannot be convinced of the Christian truth without expert opinion. Many became Christian because of the personal faith-experience and due to the fact that they allow the Holy Spirit to convict their hearts. However, to overcome any critique or any accusation that Christianity is a subjective and unverifiable faith like any others, the production of expert evidences, as an apologia is imperative. It will demonstrate that Christianity has sufficient evidences to satisfy the mind in order to convict the heart.

As mentioned above, the principles of legal evidence encompasses almost all fields of studies, in the sense it can evaluate and admit the relevancy of evidences coming from fields such as science, archaeology, psychology, historical, literature, medical and forensic science, etc. The law is ready to accept guidance from suitable qualified experts of these fields as long they can provide concrete facts and not mere subjective theories. The judge in Buckley v Rice Thomas (1554) acknowledged, “…if matter arise in our law which concern other science or faculties, we commonly apply for the aid of that science or faculty which it concerns. Which is an honourable and commendable thing in our law. For thereby it appears that we do not despise all other sciences but our own, but we approve of them and encourage them as things worthy of commendation.”[28]

Examining the Documentary Evidence

The copies of the NT manuscripts fall under the definition of ‘documents’ in s. 13 of the Civil Evidence Act i.e. “… anything in which information of any description is recorded, and ‘copy’ in relation to a document, means anything onto which information recorded in the document has been copied, by whatever means and whether directly or indirectly …” The same definition is adopted for criminal proceedings.[29]

In our case, these documents will be tendered through any of the defendant’s witness and he will explain during examination-in-chief, the implication deduced from the claims of Christ, His miracles, death and resurrection. From the documents, the court will hear how it had made a great impact on the first century Christian, especially on its authors who are either the firsthand witnesses or at least having intimately acquainted with the apostles. Prosecution will obviously during cross-examination challenge the truth and reliability of the contents of these documents. The accuracy of the copies and the integrity of the authors will be scrutinised. It is the prosecution’s turn to cast doubt on the NT documents as competent evidence. Questions like how historically reliable is the present existing copies on the basis that the original content may have changed during the textual transmission? How honest or credible are the authors to the event, especially to the claims of the resurrection? Since nobody ever rose from the dead (scientifically and medically proven), such claims are unimaginable uniquely outrageous and thus the evidential burden seem to shift now to the defendant to prove this miracle.

There are vast numbers of books[30] and articles written in great length providing various evidences. In the next few paragraphs, some of the evidences provided are mere sampling but for the purpose of this paper, adequately able to support and emphasise the possibility of verifying the truth by the principles of evidence as recognise by law.

How do we test the historical reliability of the NT documents? C. Sanders list three basic principles of historiography.[31] These are the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test, and the external evidence test. The result of these tests may be considered as expert evidences. These are the specialise area of history and archaeology in determining the historical documents.

Bibliographical Evidence

Bibliographical test is an examination of the textual transmission by which documents reach us. It is to evaluate how reliable are the copies in regard to the number of manuscripts and the time interval between the original and extant copies.[32] Simply, the more copies we have, the more one can crosscheck them to figure out what the original document was like. The uniqueness of the NT copies is when compared with other ancient writings, there is an unprecedented multiplicity of surviving copies and yet there is no major discrepancies when compare each of its contents. As of August 1998, Michael Welte of the Institute for New Testament Studies (Westfalische Wilhelms-Universitat, Institut Fur Neutestamentliche Textforschung) in Munster, Germany, has conveyed the latest count of Greek manuscript as follows: 109 papyri, 306 uncials, 2,860 minuscules, and 2,410 lectionaries, for a total of 5,686.[33] In addition to the Greek documents, there are thousands of other ancient NT manuscripts in other languages: 8,000 to 10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts, plus a total of 8,000 in Ethiopic, Slavic, and Armenian.[34] In all, there are more than 24,500 manuscripts in existence.

As for the time gap between the originals and the first NT copies is about 50 years. The closer the time gap, the more reliable the documents are. No other ancient writings even come close to the qualification of the NT copies in terms of time gap and copies. The closest is the Illiad written by Homer around 800 B.C. Its earliest copy was made in the 400 B.C., approximately a gap of 400 years and only with 643 existing copies. Yet most historians view it as reliable copies. If other ancient manuscripts (such as written by Herodutus, Thucydides, Plato, Caesar, Livy, Tacitus, or Pliny Secundus, of which their time gap are between 750 and 1,400 years with none of them having more than 20 copies to compare) are accepted by historians as reliable, how much more the reliability of the NT text is assured. It enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation in terms of the sheer numbers, the span and the variety of documents available to sustain or contradict it. Ravi Zacharias concludes that there is nothing in ancient manuscript evidence to match such textual availability and integrity.[35]

Internal Consistency Evidence

Internal evidence test refers to the accuracy and consistency when compare with the contents of each NT documents. In other words, the documents would be considered reliable if they are free of known contradiction. On this test, it is important to remember the ‘benefit of the doubt’ presumption. Unless any contradiction is clearly proven, one cannot assume that the unexplained contradiction is a concluded fallacy. It is a mistake for the critics to assume, that what has not yet been explained never will be explained. When a scientist comes upon an anomaly in nature, he does not give up further scientific explanation. Rather, he uses the unexplained as a motivation to find an explanation.[36]

Dr Montgomery aptly reminds us on Aristotle’s dictum, widely followed by literary critics: ‘the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the defendant itself, not arrogated by the critics to himself’. Therefore, “one must listen to the claims of the document under analysis, and not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualified himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies.”[37] The NT documents clearly satisfy the internal evidence test because within it there are much substantiated consistencies outweighing other minor unproven assumptions.[38]

Corroboration of Extrinsic Evidence

The third test requires other reliable historical materials to confirm the internal testimonies provided by the NT documents. Besides having the value of expert evidence, these extrinsic proofs also have the weight of corroborating evidence. The word ‘corroboration’ means support or confirmation. In relation to the law of evidence, it refers to any rule of law or practice which requires that certain kinds of evidence be confirmed or supported by other, independent evidence, in order to be sufficient to sustain a given result. Until recently, requirements for corroboration played an important part in the law of evidence in criminal cases. But, as a result of statutory changes, and the decision of the Court of Appeal in Makanjuola,[39] almost nothing remains of this once major common rule. As a general rule, the courts may act upon duly proved documentary evidence without any extrinsic evidences. Hence, by just relying on the evidences discussed above, the NT documents is sufficient to stand alone to prove the case for Christ. However, as Lord Reid in DPP v Kilbourne explained that ‘there is nothing technical in the idea of corroboration. When in the ordinary affairs of life one is doubtful whether or not to believe a particular statement, one naturally looks to see whether it fits in with other statements or circumstances relating to the particular matter; the better it fits in, the more one is inclined to believe it’.[40] Therefore, not to leave the immense wealth of corroborating evidences behind, here is some of it to benefit the sceptics and to bring about a stronger conviction.

Dr Edwin Yamauchi, a professor at Miami University (Ohio) whose specialty include archaeology, Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages confidently remark that the Christians have ‘better historical documentation for Jesus than for the founder of any other ancient religion’.[41] Sources from early Christian writers outside the New Testament such as Ecclesiastical History III.39 by Eusebius who preserves the writings of Papias (A.D. 130); Against Heresies by Irenaeus (A.D. 180) and writings by Clement of Rome (C. A.D. 170); Polycarp (A.D. 70-156); Tatian (C. A.D. 170) corroborated that many people believe Jesus performed healings and was the Messiah, that he was crucified, and that despite that shameful death, his followers, who believed he was still alive worshipped him as God.[42] Early Non-Christians sources also confirm the New Testament history, e.g. Tacitus, Suetonius, Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Talmudic writings, Lucian of Samosata, Mara Bar-Serapian, etc. The writings of these non-Christians supplement and confirm the gospel account and thus makes strong corroborating evidences. These writings come largely from Greek, Roman, Jewish and Samaritan sources of the first century. Collectively, these secular writings inform us that (1) Jesus was from Nazareth; (2) he lived a wise and virtuous life; (3) he was crucified in Palestine under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius Caesar at Passover time, being considered the Jewish King; (4) he was believed by his disciples to have been raised from the dead three days later; (5) his enemies acknowledged that he performed unusual feats they called ‘sorcery’; (6) his small band of disciples multiplied rapidly, spreading even as far as Rome; (7) his disciples denied polytheism, lived moral lives, and worshipped Christ as Divine.[43]

Archaeological Evidences

Other expert evidence such as archaeology also confirms the gospel. Nelson Glueck, the renowed Jewish archaeologist, wrote: “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.”[44] This type of scientific evidence repeatedly affirms the New Testament’s accuracy and provides important corroboration for its reliability.[45] Based on the vast numbers of archaeological discoveries, that they have enhanced the New Testament’s credibility.

Relying on this scientific evidence, archaeology has established the accuracy of the gospel authors, especially Luke. The late Sir William Ramsay, once a professor of classical archaeology and art at Oxford concluded after thirty years of study that “Luke is a historian of first rank, not merely are his statements of facts are trustworthy … this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”[46] Luke was assiduous in reporting exact historical details even to minor details such as to its geographical accuracy. Geisler reveals, “In all, Luke names thirty two countries, fifty four cities and nine islands without an error.”[47] Logically, this careful historian had reported far more important matters like for instance, the resurrection of Jesus.

Resurrection Thus Proven

Clearly, the admissibility of the NT documents gives the ‘defendant’ in our case to prove its reliability and the truth of its content. Throughout the process of the testimony and the evidences provided by experts establishes a profound solid case for the claims of Christ. Thus, once the truth of the NT documents is assessed, consequently one would obviously conclude that the fact of Christian belief in resurrection is also proven. Without the belief in the resurrection the Christian faith could not have come into being. The disciples would have remained crushed and defeated men.[48] Without any sufficient proof of the resurrection, the Christian faith remains a mere philosophical religion. Worst of all, as the apostle Paul had said, ‘if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!’ (I Corinthians 15:17).

Fortunately, there are ample proofs of the resurrection of Christ as expressed by the strongest type of legal evidence. Thomas Arnold, the author of the famous three volume History of Rome and was chair of modern history at Oxford, and certainly a man well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts said:

The evidence for our Lord’s life and death and resurrection may be, and often has been, shown to be satisfactory; it is good according to the common rules for distinguishing good evidence from bad. Thousands and tens of thousands of persons have gone through it piece by piece, as carefully as every judge summing up on a most important cause. I have myself done it many times over, not to persuade others but to satisfy myself. I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose from the dead.[49] 

Circumstances Evidence / Res Ipsa Loquitor

One more example the ‘defendant’ Christians can use to defend their case is the application of circumstances evidence. The law allows circumstantial evidence where no direct evidence is available. This evidence consists of evidence of circumstances, none of which speak directly to the facts in issue but from which those facts may be inferred. Feelings or statements of animosity towards the victim, presence in the area of attack, the victim’s blood on the accused’s clothing—all build up into a strong but inferential case, even though no one directly witnessed the commission of the crime.

Nobody witnessed the precise moment of resurrection. One may imagine if there is a direct observation of the resurrection, it is likened to the two seconds ‘energizing’ of the body from within the linen to another place outside the tomb, only made possible in science fiction movie such as Star Trek or Stargate SG-1.[50] The fact that there are no witnesses present, just like many other criminal or negligent cases, the law allows circumstantial evidence to be adduced. The application of the maxim res ipsa loquitor[51] as circumstantial evidence greatly point towards Christ’s resurrection. Professor John Warwick Montgomery illustrates:

Res ipsa loquitor in typical negligent case:

1] Accident does not normally occur in the absence of negligence.

2] Instrumentality causing injury was under the defendant’s exclusive control.

3] Plaintiff did not himself contribute to the injury.

Therefore, defendant negligent: “ the event speaks for itself”.

Res ipsa loquitor as applied to Christ’s resurrection:

1] Dead bodies do not leave tombs in the absence of some agency affecting the removal.

2] The tomb was under God’s exclusive control, for it had been sealed, and Jesus, the sole occupant of it was dead.

3] The Romans and the Jewish religious leaders did not contribute to the removal of the body (they had been responsible for sealing and guarding the tomb to prevent anyone from stealing the body, and the disciples would not have stolen it, then prevaricated, and finally died for what they knew to be untrue.

Therefore, only God was in a position to empty the tomb, which He did, as Jesus Himself had predicted, by raising Him from the dead: “the events speaks for itself.”[52]

Submission

Whilst the ‘defendant’ Christian in our case will submit their case in court, persuading the court to exonerate the Christian faith from all the prosecution’s accusation and unproven assumptions, I hereby submit that the only way, if not, one of the better method to prove a particular religious faith (especially Christianity) objectively is through the application of law of evidence as administered in courts.

There can never be a consensus of what amounts to an exhaustive proof. The fact is, it is impossible to have any exhaustive proof for the existence of God because no one can subject an omnipresent God under a rigorous and repeated scientific observation within the confines of a controlled laboratory. Philosophically, if God can be tested and proven 100% by man, the metaphysics of God will no longer transcend man’s intelligence. ‘Faith’ then ceases to be a meaningful verb and remains redundant.

The events of all religious personalities are within time-space dimension event in history. To verify any of its truth, they must successfully capable to undergo the various types of evidential test as accepted by the law of evidence administered in courts. However, major religions e.g. Islam, Bahai, Sikhism, Hinduism do not base their faith on any verifiable historical event or miracle. The Chinese Taoism/Buddhism have many interesting religious stories of which many of them were a basis to variant exciting Hong Kong and Taiwanese movies. But historical evidences could verify none of its religious stories. Islam has much historical data on its establishment but they do not claim that it was founded on any miracles, except the existence of the Koran itself as a miracle of Allah’s revelation. This revelation was not done in a publicly observable way, as there are no witnesses, except by a mere claim of one powerful leader.

The biographies of Jesus stand up to any scrutiny and have credible corroborating external evidences to confirm it. Applying the legal-historical evidential method, the Bible surpasses all other ancient documentation of any religions. For example, the first biography of Buddha, who lived in the 6th century B.C., was only written in the 1st century A.D. Its scriptures were not put into writing until after the Christian era. The biography of Muhammad was not written until 767 A.D., more than a full century after his death. Its earliest manuscripts such as Sira only written in approximately 833A.D., Hadith in 870A.D., Tarikh and Tafsir in 923 A.D., after Muhammad’s companion and the 1st generation Muslims were dead. Although the Gathas of Zoroaster, about 1000 B.C., are believed to be authentic, most of the Zoroastrian scriptures were only put into writing after the 3rd century A.D. Thus, their credibility and reliability are questionable.

All other religions based on philosophical proposition, and therefore, it is impossible to objectively assess its truth. C. Stephen Evans clearly in suggesting that philosophical ‘proofs’ for most today are complicated, technical, abstract and hard to follow. Such reasoning he asserts is suitable for the professional philosopher, but offers nothing for the ordinary person. A legal approach to ‘proof’ is therefore more personable, accessible and relevant, even for those disenchanted with modernity.[53]

In conclusion, I concur with Principal of Morling Theological College and a former Australian Solicitor & Barrister, Ross Clifford who confidently proposed that ‘a fact-based religion is prime to a legal apologetics. It is an apologetic that by its nature is accustomed to sifting evidence to find the principle items, that can clearly discriminate between issues and sources, and that can weigh the significance of subordinate facts; such as a relationship that would tend to make a witness biased, and the competency of a witness. It also offers proven criteria to evaluate oral testimony, hearsay and circumstantial evidence in determining the facts.’[54]

Endnotes

[1] Gerry O’ Collins, quoted in Priestland, G, The Case Against God (Collins, 1984), p. 41.

[2] John Warwick Montgomery, Faith Founded on Fact (Newburgh: Trinity Press, 1978) pp. 38—39.

[3] Simon Greenleaf, Testimony of the Evangelist Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1965) reprinted from 1847 edition.

[4] R v Exhall (1866) 4 F & F 922 at p. 929.

[5] Geisler, Norman L., Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976) 292—93.

[6] James Sire, The Universe Next Door (IVP, 1997) p. 198.

[7] ibid., p. 196.

[8] John Warwick Montgomery, The Law Above the Law (Minneapolis, 1975) p. 89.

[9] 1975 American Federal Rules of Evidence. 101.

[10] John Warwick Montgomery, Law & Gospel: A Study Integrating Faith and Practice (Edmunton, 1994) p. 34.

[11] 1 Corinthians 15:14 (NKJV).

[12] To avoid any controversies, the approach taken here will be based on the UK’s statutory law on evidence or otherwise indicated, and the case laws propounded by the courts of England and Wales.

[13] Woolminton v DPP (1935) AC 462, per Viscount Sankey LC at 481—2.

[14] Evidence Act 1938, s. 4.

[15] Stark.Ev. (4th ed.) pp. 521—524.

[16] Wynne v Trywhitt (1821) 4 B. & Ald. 376.

[17] (1836) 4 Cl. & F. 445; 3 Bing. N.C. 183.

[18] Simon Greenleaf, Testimony of the Evangelist Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice, reproduced in John Warwick Montgomery, The Law Above the Law (Minneapolis, 1975) p. 99.

[19] For an interesting argument on the admissibility of ancient document, see Boyd Pehrson, How Not to Critique Legal Apologetics, Vol. 3 No. 1 (2002) Global Journal of Classical Theology, http://www.trinitysem.edu/journal/pehrsonpap.html.

[20] section 55(1).

[21] (1973) A.C. 729 at p. 756.

[22] Harris v DPP (1952) A.C. 694 at p. 710.

[23] Omychund v Barker (1744) 1 Atk. 21 at p. 49, per Lord Hardwicke.

[24] See for example cases like Kajala v Noble (1982) 75 Cr.App.R. 15; Taylor v Chief Constable of Cheshire (1987) 1 All E.R. 225, QBD; R v Governor of Pentonville Prison, ex p. Osman (1990) 1 W.L.R. 277.

[25] e.g. s. 23 Criminal Justice Act 1988.

[26] John Warwick Montgomery, “The Jury Returns, Juridical Defence of Christianity,” Evidence for Faith, Deciding the God Question (Dallas: Probe Books, 1991) p. 330.

[27] Phipson on Evidence (Sweet & Maxwell, 15th ed.) para 25-06.

[28] Buckley v Rice Thomas (1554) Plowd 118, per Saunders J. at p. 124.

[29] Schedule 1 to the Act substitutes them for the previous definitions contained in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, ss. 72(1) and 118(1), and the Criminal Justice Act 1988, sch. 2, para 5.

[30] For example, F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? Downers Grove; Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 1964; Wilkins, Michael J., and J.P.Moreland, eds. Jesus under Fire (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995); Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995); Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Thomas Nelson, 1999) which provide a long list of resourceful bibliography, etc.

[31] Sanders, C, Introduction to Research in English Literary History (New York: Macmillan Co., 1952).

[32] John Warwick Montgomery, History and Christianity (Downers Grove, III.: InterVarsity Press, 1971). P. 26.

[33] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Thomas Nelson, 1999) p. 36.

[34] Lee Strobel, The Case For Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995) p. 63.

[35] Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God? (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994) p. 162.

[36] supra at n. 33, p. 46.

[37] John Warwick Montgomery, Evangelicals and Archaeology, Christian Today. 16 Aug 1968, p. 29.

[38] For a thorough survey for internal consistency of the Bible, see Gleason l. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982) and/or Norman L. Geisler, ed. Decide for Yourself, How History Reviews the Bible (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 1982)

[39] Makanjuola (1995) 1 WLR 1348; [1995] 3 All ER 730; [1995] 2 Cr App R 469.

[40] DPP v Kilbourne (1973) AC 729 at 750.

[41] Quoted from Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ, p. 260.

[42] For more exact quotation of these writings, see Elgin S. Moyer, Who Was Who in Church History, rev. ed. Chicago: Moody Press, 1968.

[43] Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998) p. 384—385.

[44] Nelson Glueck, Rivers in the Dessert: History of Negev (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Cadahy, 1959) p. 31.

[45] For some detailed of archaeological discoveries, see Edwin Yamauchi, The Stones and the Scriptures (New York: J.B. Lippencott, 1972); J.A.Thompson, The Bible and Archaeology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmas, 1975); John McRay, Archaeology and the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991); Jack Finegan, The Archaeology of the New Testament (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1992).

[46] Sir William M Ramsay, The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1915) p. 222.

[47] supra at n. 43, p. 47.

[48] William Lane Craig, Knowing the Truth about the Resurrection. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Servant Books, 1988. Rev. ed of The Son Rises, (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1981) p. 116.

[49] Arnold as cited in Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1945) p. 425 –426.

[50] In addition, even if there are people accompanying Jesus’ corpse throughout the Sabbath Day until that Sunday morning, no one would be sure when is the precise moment of the resurrection for at least two reasons: (1) no one has ever seen a similar resurrection before to acknowledge it, and (2) they would not be aware that the body has disappeared at the moment of resurrection as they cannot see through the linen and spices. Neither would the guards know what happened in the tomb since they can’t see through the stone. All we know is it happened some time between Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Based on these circumstances, it would be almost impossible to pin point a precise moment of resurrection for any direct evidence.   

[51] In Latin, ‘the facts speak for itself’.  Also see Scott v London & St Katherine Docks Co. (1865) 2 H. & C. 596; Ward v Tesco Stores (1976) 1 W.L.R. 810.

[52] supra at n. 10, p. 35.

[53] C. Stephen Evans, Why believe? Reason and mystery as pointers to God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960), 10-21, as quoted in Ross Clifford’s abstract doctoral thesis, Justification of the Legal Apologetic of John Warwick Montgomery: An Apologetic For All Seasons Vol. 3 No. 1, (2002) Global Journal of Classical Theology, http://www.trinitysem.edu/journal/cliffordpap.html.

[54] ibid., Ross Clifford, p. 4.

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