In my career as a cold-case detective, i frequently celebrated when a jury came back with a guilty verdict. But when I read the press clippings and reports related to my cases, I nearly always observe that reporters write about “closure”. One article cited a police official who said, “We sincerely hope that this verdict brings a moment of comfort and closure to Lynne’s family as they continue to cope with the loss of their loved one (emphasis mine).” The families of the victims in my cases often start off hoping they will experience “closure” of some sort, only to find this sense of resolution elusive. As a result, I usually try to prepare the families I work with to be cautious in their expectations. Even if we are able to convict the killer, it’s likely these families will never experience “closure”. This expression is typically defined in the following way:
clo-sure [kloh-zher] – NOUN:
1. The act of closing; the state of being closed.
2. A bringing to an end; conclusion.
Victim families think they will achieve an end to their suffering; a conclusion to their pain. This simply doesn’t happen. Victim families may find justice, but they probably won’t experience closure. As I reflected on this reality last night, reading through the dozens of news report related to the case, I realized the sense of closure these families are seeking is available to them if they are Christians. The Christian worldview offers all of us the kind of closure we are seeking.
If atheism is true, we are purely material beings. We are only “molecules in motion”; strictly physical beings whose lives are nothing more than a fleeting, temporal series of causes and events. We are born, we live a certain number of years, and then we die. Stuff happens to us; we like some of this stuff and we dislike some of it. Nothing is transcendently good or bad, right or wrong. Some of us live a long time, some shorter. Some die naturally, some die criminally. Sometimes criminals are brought to justice and sometimes they aren’t. Nothing more can really be said (or needs to be said) about this; it’s just the way it is. In a world like this, “closure” (as we typically think about it) is often impossible to achieve. The guilty verdict cannot bring back Lynne Knight (the victim in my most recent case). It cannot end the sense of loss her family continues to experience. While the case is now closed, the family may still find “closure” difficult to achieve.
But if the Christian worldview is true, a day is coming when all the evil committed in this world will be reversed. All losses will be returned. All pain will be abolished. For those of us who have accepted the pardon offered by God through Jesus Christ, we will someday be reunited with those we miss today. The heavenly realm of God lacks pain, suffering, regret, or frustration. The justice and mercy of God reign in perfect balance: all wrongs are righted, all questions are answered, all doubt is removed, and all joy is returned. If Christianity is true, this often painful mortal experience will draw to a close, once and for all. We will experience justice and closure.
As a Christian Case Maker, I’ve had the great honor of making the case for the Christian worldview in many different environments. When families seek closure in these difficult cases, I’ve had the honor of pointing them to the only true, complete source of closure. When these families seek and long for an end to their pain, regret and suffering, I can confidently point them to Christ because true closure requires a Christian worldview.
For more information about the reliability of the New Testament gospels and the case for Christianity, please read Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. This book teaches readers ten principles of cold-case investigations and applies these strategies to investigate the claims of the gospel authors. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Cold-Case Christianity DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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