After four weeks, sitting just ten feet from the jury, I still wasn’t sure how to read them; especially Juror Number 9. She scowled through most of the testimony, took notes when things seemed obvious and often displayed gestures that were confusing and difficult to read. I wasn’t sure that we were reaching her with the evidence. In fact, I was beginning to doubt our choice of her as a juror in the first place. The prosecution and defense teams evaluate the initial jury panel and vet each juror in an effort to select jurors that will best serve the purpose of either side. The defense lawyers are looking for something in a juror and the prosecution team is looking for something in each juror (more on that tomorrow). I found myself reviewing the notes related to Juror Number 9 many times toward the end of the trial, trying to see if we had missed something with this one. My concern was that this juror was rejecting the truth as demonstrated by the evidence, and I knew from experience that this sometimes occurs in jury trials.
It turns out that there are three reasons why anyone might reject a truth claim, and only one of these three reasons is rational (evidential). I’ve written quite a bit about this in Cold Case Christianity, and it’s important for us to make the distinction when trying to communicate the truth about Christianity to our friends, family and co-workers. Why? Because there are times when reasoning through the evidence is futile. There are three reasons someone might reject the truth and we need to be careful to distinguish between these three conditions. We need to listen carefully to the words that our friends are using to understand where their objections reside in the first place, so we can better understand how we might be able to reach them. Here is a brief review of why someone might SHUN the truth:
They Have a RaSHUNal (Rational) Objection
When you hear people say things like, “I just don’t get it,” or “It makes no sense to me,” or “I just don’t see the evidence for that,” you are probably dealing with someone who holds a rational objection and would be willing to engage and review the evidence that supports your case.
They Have an EmoSHUNal (Emotional) Objection
When you hear someone say something like, “Christians are so hypocritical,” or “My dad was a Christian and he was a jerk,” or “I have friends who are Christians and I would never want to be like them,” you are probably dealing with someone who is responding emotionally based on some experience in their past.
They Have a VoliSHUNal (Volitional) Objection
When you hear someone say something like, “I’m a good person, so I’m not worried about God,” or “I just don’t have time to think about those kinds of things,” or “I wish Christians would just live their own lives and stop telling me how to live mine,” you may be dealing with someone who willfully rejects Christianity because they are unwilling to change their life to embrace the truth.
It would be great if everyone we met was in the first category, wouldn’t it? After all, Christian Case Making involves studying the evidence and arguments for God’s existence, the reliability of the Bible and the historicity of Jesus, and these evidential pursuits are designed to help make a rational, evidential case for Christianity. But the truth is that few people object for rational reasons; most object to the truth for emotional or volitional reasons. In fact I think most people resist truth claims for purely volitional reasons. Each of us wants to be in charge, to be our own god, to make our own decisions and pursue our own interests without limitation, especially the limits that might be imposed by Christianity.
If you’re wondering why your reasonable and rational efforts to describe the truth to your friends and family seem to be falling on deaf ears, it just may be that you’re coming at it from the wrong angle, given the nature of the objections your friends and family may hold. There are times when we ought to be addressing emotional or volitional objections people may have. By the way, Juror Number 9 was not a problem for us, but in the post-verdict interviews with the jury I spent time mining out the nature of her hesitation and discovered that her past did present some emotional barriers. Luckily, she was able to move through those barriers on the way to the truth.
J. Warner Wallace is the author of Cold Case Christianity.