Have You Heard About…? Christian Apologetics in Person and Online

Allen Quist (Norseland, Minnesota USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

Allen Quist taught Psychology at Bethany Lutheran College from 1968 to 1981, when he was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives serving three terms. His primary area of interest and research is Christian apologetics, and in 2014 he was one of two featured speakers on the topic at the B. W. Teigen Reformation Lectures. His new book in the field is scheduled for publication in Fall, 2017.

Have you ever wanted to share your Christian faith with a friend of yours but didn't know how to go about it? If you have had that experience, then join the club! Most of us (maybe almost all) have been in that situation, too.

The good news is that there is an easy way to share your faith. You can do so in a way that doesn't probe into what other people know or believe. You can share your faith with a personal friend, a Facebook friend, or anyone else, by just telling them about something exciting that they don't already know. Believe it or not, everybody likes to learn new things.

You can easily pull out various single pieces of information from this article, condense them into sound bites, and post them individually on social media with a link to this website or one of the videos. As you will see, this information is so exciting that it should arouse curiosity in others and do so in a way that will open up opportunities for you to tell them much more!

This article will describe a discovery that has been scrutinized extensively by the world of science and at the same time points to the gospel message of Jesus, the Savior. It also gives solid reasons for believing that the message of Jesus is true. We are speaking here of a historical artifact, a real object, that strongly suggests that Jesus really did rise from the dead. This artifact is known as the Shroud of Turin. It's a rectangular linen cloth measuring 14.3 feet long by 3.7 feet wide. There are significant indications that this is the actual linen cloth that covered the body of Jesus from the time of his burial until his resurrection.

You can point out that the evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud is really quite overwhelming. It is virtually certain that on this linen cloth we have an actual photograph of someone who was killed by crucifixion, someone who was killed in or around Jerusalem at a time that coincides with the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. The most reasonable explanation for this photograph is that it pictures Jesus in the tomb—a photograph that apparently occurred the moment he rose from the dead. The photograph looks to have been produced by an energy source unknown to modern science, energy coming from inside the body itself, energy that was released when the body of Jesus was transformed from a dead body into a living body with far different qualities than it had previously. There is no known scientific explanation for how the image on the Shroud was formed, or even how it could have been formed. (Full length pictures of the Shroud of Turin are available online here, as well as at many other locations that may be found by an image search for the Shroud of Turin).

The Shroud of Turin

National Geographic/Getty Images [Used by permission.]

All four gospels say that a linen cloth was used to wrap the body of Jesus after the crucifixion. Luke, for example, said: He [Joseph of Arimathea] took it [the body] down and wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid (Luke 23:53).

(The Shroud is referred to as the "Shroud of Turin" because it is housed at Turin, Italy, in the chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.)

As mentioned, the linen cloth bears the image of a man who was killed by crucifixion. And it is significant that the image on the Shroud is much clearer in the black-and-white negative of the photograph than in its natural sepia color.

This negative image of the Shroud was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate of photographer Secondo Pia, the first person to photograph the Shroud and who did so while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral.

There are numerous compelling reasons that point to the Shroud as being the actual burial cloth of Jesus. Some of the reasons follow:

  1. As Secondo Pia was developing his negatives, he was amazed to see a positive image emerge from his film. (A negative of a negative photograph gives a positive image.) Since it would have been impossible to fake a photographic negative long before the world had any knowledge of photography, there can be no doubt that the Shroud contains an actual negative, an actual photograph. As a result, the allegation that the Shroud is a painting or fake of some sort is now known to be false.
  2. The Shroud demonstrates that the person was crucified with nails through his wrists, not hands. It has only recently become known that the flesh in a person's hands cannot bear the weight necessary for crucifixion; for that reason nails were driven through the wrists. This means that the Shroud is historically accurate even though all the paintings and other art works of the crucifixion made during the middle-ages and up until only a few years ago are inaccurate in this regard. (The Greek and Aramaic words for hands can also refer to the wrists.)
  3. The energy source for the photograph must have come from within the body itself, one reason being that there are no shadows on the photograph, as would have happened with external lighting. There are other significant scientific indications that the energy that produced the image on the shroud must have come from within the body.
  4. Close inspection of the image on the Shroud reveals that it is an X-ray image as well as a photographic image. Skeletal features can be observed. Again, the energy source for the image must have come from within the body, and the source of this energy has no known scientific explanation.
  5. Pollen grains on the Shroud, which match certain plant-bearing flowers also pictured on the Shroud, when taken as a whole, match plants that only existed in and around Jerusalem. They bloom at the time of the crucifixion. These clearly identified plants as a group are known to exist nowhere else in the world.
  6. Written records of the Solarium (the linen cloth that was used to cover Jesus' head from the time of his death to his burial) go back to the first century and to Jerusalem. The Gospel of John states that after the resurrection there were two cloths—apparently the Shroud and the Solarium—seen left there in the tomb (John 20:6,7). Scientific study of these two linen cloths has revealed that they are stained with same blood type and that the stains are the same shapes and are in the same places on both cloths. These two linen cloths must have covered the same body. There is no image on the Solarium, however, as it would have been removed when the larger linen cloth was used to cover the body.
  7. Some of the pollen grains on the Shroud are from a plant that grows in Palestine and is known for its sharp thorns. Those pollen grains are especially numerous around the head of the image on the Shroud, apparently left there by the crown of thorns.
  8. As mentioned above, the Solarium and the Shroud have separate histories, but the blood type and pattern of blood stains and other body fluids all match. For this reason it is evident that we have two independent but complementary lines of historical records that confirm the authenticity of the Shroud.
  9. The man pictured on the Shroud had been whipped with a scourge before he was crucified. That was not the common practice in Roman crucifixions. Why would they whip someone they were about to kill? It would be waste of their time and energy. We know, however, that Jesus was scourged by Pilate in the hope that the crowd would have pity on him so Pilate could release him. In addition, the man pictured on the Shroud had been crowned with a cap of thorns. The chances of any other man killed by Roman crucifixion matching these details is extremely remote.

Numerous other factual indications of the Shroud's genuineness in addition to those briefly mentioned above, can be observed. Many books, periodicals and internet sites describe this evidence in considerable detail. Numerous YouTube videos available on-line do so as well, such as "Shroud of Turin...The New Evidence", and "Shroud Encounter."

The BBC and National Geographic have also produced videos that are reasonably good and can be viewed online.

Does this mean the Shroud has been scientifically proven to be the burial cloth of the Christ? It does not. Science can rule out explanations according to the manner in which the natural world operates. Science, however, cannot prove a miracle in that miracles operate outside of the way nature usually works. Science now has no explanation for the image on the Shroud. Keep in mind, however, that a miracle can be properly defined as a significant event for which no scientific explanation exists. Miracles are ultimately a matter of faith.

Note: We should also recognize that a few years ago a carbon-14 test was used to date the Shroud. That dating indicated that the linen cloth was made in the 13th or 14th Centuries AD. A careful study of that dating process, however, revealed that the piece of cloth that was used for dating had been taken from a corner of the cloth that had been spliced into the main cloth to repair damage from a fire. There is at least one peer-reviewed professional journal article by one of the experts in the relevant fields which demonstrates that the piece of cloth that was used for the carbon-14 dating was indeed from a 14th century repair. This being the case, there is no known evidence that the Shroud is anything other than the burial cloth of Jesus the Christ. This also means that the cloth bearing the image is considerably older than the 14th Century AD.

This information on the Shroud is part of a discipline known as "Christian apologetics," which is the study of the question: How do we know that Christianity is true? More information on apologetics can be found in two of my books in the field available online.

[ editor's note: Here are two of Allen Quist's writings. Check Amazon for Many Convincing Proofs, and the Lutheran Science Institute for Apologetics in Lutheranism at the Bjarne Wollan Teigen Reformation Lectures at Bethany Lutheran College and Seminary, Mankato, MN. ]

Translate this page into your language
Return to original language with "show original" button at top left.


Michelle (FVL) 2016-10-11 1:14:45pm
According to LiveScience (http://www.livescience.com/52567-shroud-of-turin-dna.html) plant DNA from all over the world was found on the Shroud as well as genetics from it's many visitors. This is perhaps due to the fact that it was on display for many years. It is interesting to note that LiveScience states "the strongest genetic signals [found on the Shroud] seemed to come from areas in and around the Middle East and the Caucasus — not far from where Jesus was buried", however this may just suggest that people from those areas visited the Shroud more than others.
They also share that neutron emission from the earthquakes, spoken about in the gospel of Matthew, could have created the image on the cloth, but note that this neutron emission would interfere with efforts to carbon date the Shroud.
Allen J Quist (1944) 2016-10-13 9:52:09am
Hi Michele,
Thank you for comments. Let me suggest, however, that you look at websites that support the Shroud as well as those that are skeptical. There is DNA from all over the world on the Shroud, likely because people from all over the world have come to see it, and some of them probably could touch it, as well as it having been moved from place to place. The pollen grains taken as a whole, however, exist nowhere in the world other than in and around Jerusalem. It is difficult to find people from the scientific community who take seriously the claim that neutron emissions from earthquakes could have formed the image on the Shroud, partly because the energy that produced the image came from inside the body, not outside. There appears to be scientific agreement on both these points. In addition, the carbon-14 dating is known to be false, so there is no reason to be concerned about it.
Judy Kuster 2016-10-14 11:31:39am
Al, I've been fascinated with the Shroud of Turin for many years and in the past have read about the controversy so your more current information was very interesting. I have three questions:
1. You wrote, "There are other significant scientific indications that the energy that produced the image on the shroud must have come from within the body." What are they? How does that harmonize with what you later say, "the energy source for the image must have come from within the body, and the source of this energy has no known scientific explanation."
2. There is curious speculation online about Jesus blood type and DNA. Is it still possible to analyze blood type and DNA from over 2000 years ago?
3. Since carbon-14 testing was done on a corner that was a repair of the Shroud, do you think there will ever be another test allowed on another part of the Shroud that was actually the original?
Allen Quist (1944) 2016-10-18 9:13:11am
Hi Judy,

Thank you for your questions. These are exactly the kind of questions that should be asked about the Shroud. In answer:

1. Question: What are the indications that the energy source for the image on the Shroud came from inside the body? Answer: There are two such indications. The first is that whatever energy created the image on the front side of the Shroud also created the image on the back side of the Shroud. If you take a photograph of the front of someone, your energy source came from in front of the person. If you take a photograph of someone’s back, your energy source came from the side of the person’s back. On the Shroud, there are images for both the front of the person and for the back. Unless there was someone in the tomb to turn the body over (highly unlikely), the energy causing the image must have come from inside the body.

Secondly, external lighting always leaves shadows. There are no shadows on the Shroud, indicating that the lighting was internal, not external.

2. Question: Has there been DNA testing of the blood and other material on the Shroud? Answer: Yes, there has been, but as far I know, this testing has not provided meaningful results. A big part of the difficulty is that numerous people have touched the Shroud and have left some of their DNA on it. So the potential for the DNA of the person pictured on the Shroud to be contaminated by the DNA from other persons who have handled it is huge. In addition, the most that DNA could establish is that the person pictured on the Shroud is the same person whose head had been covered by the Sudarium (head covering). See https://www.shroud.com/pdfs/kearse3.pdf.

Now if the skeptics could produce the body. . . . That would be a different matter; but that hasn’t happened for the last 2,000 years, so it would appear to be rather unlikely. We should also note that the evidence the Shroud and the Sudarium covered the same body is about as “open and shut” as it can get, see in National Review http:///www.nationalreview.com/article/434153/shroud-turin-christs-blood-both-there-and-sudarium-oviedo. The blood on both the Shroud and the Sudarium is type AB which is fairly uncommon.

3. Question: Do I think there will there be another Carbon-14 test on the Shroud? Answer: This is an opinion question, of course, but I am always willing to give one. We really don’t know, however, if a valid carbon test will happen before the person pictured on the Shroud comes again or not. I don’t see much interest in another test although some people say they are hoping an accurate test will be done. The Catholic Church at this point doesn’t want any more of the Shroud material to be destroyed, as happens with Carbon dating. The skeptics now know that the linen cloth bearing the image is older than the 13th to 14th Century, so they don’t seem eager to pursue it, and those who believe the Shroud to be genuine are convinced that the available records already take the Shroud and the Sudarium back to the First Century, and there is, therefore, not much to be gained by a carbon test.

As for me, I would love to see a valid carbon test, but I expect that I will see the person pictured in the Shroud face to face before I see another carbon test.
Alyssa Voit (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2016-10-17 3:44:54pm
What a wonderful article for Christianity! I love how you define miracles as an act of faith unable to be proven by science. God and his intelligence is so above our capabilities that we are not able to figure everything out; this is how miracles are designed. This article really heightened that idea that there are some things in this world that science cannot describe and that our faith and God have to be used. Such a finding really burns a passion to Christians saying "Look at the miracles of God!" I love findings like this that we cannot describe because they are little surprises that God gives us to try to understand him a little bit more. This is also a great article to share with some of my atheist friends as a way to subtly show them Christianity in a way that invites knowledge and curiosity. Interesting points!
Madeline Wunderle (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2016-10-31 1:33:56pm
I like this article because of the faith and scientific aspect that it takes. The miracles of God can take presence in the medical field everyday as God blessed surgeons with the knowledge and sills that they have today. Christianity can be really hard to talk about with Atheists as I had to deal with in High School as i went to a public school. Atheists have a very set mindset as Christians usually try and see things from a different perspectives that Science attends to as well- Christianity gives us the faith and guidance to push through these obsticles
Alexandria Meulemans (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2016-10-18 3:42:05pm
Hi Mr. Quist! The article that you have provided and shared was really interesting. I definitely did not knw that the actual cloth that was on Jesus' head after he was crucified was called a Shroud. I definitely learned something new about that, and how crazy that technology can see all of that and what not. I am also amazed that the energy supplied from the body was unbelievable since you can see the face and the entire body. Just like you, I wonder how that is possible unless if that Jesus wanted to be known to you and other researchers to make this known throughout the world that yes he does exist. What will your next research item going to be on? If it is anything like this article and research that you found, I would love to read it.
Allen J Quist (1944) 2016-10-18 11:02:32pm
Thank you so much for your very encouraging comments. There are a couple of pieces coming out that will report on research similar to that of the Shroud. First of all, the "Lutheran Sentinel," the bi-monthly publication of the ELS which I am sure your library carries, is scheduled to include six articles on Christian apologetics starting in 2017. I am involved with others in planning those articles, but I don't know yet who will write them. I am sure they will include the latest research, however. I am confident you will find them to be very useful. Secondly, Concordia Publishing House is scheduled to publish my new apologetics book in the Fall of 2017. It will be called "Cutting Edge Christian Apologetics." I hope that title catches your interest. About 2% of the book will include the basic information on the Shroud as you have seen above. The other 98% should be equally fascinating. For example, what if one your atheist friends were to ask you, "Why should I believe the Bible?" This book will enable you to answer that question in a compelling manner. The book also explains the ways evolutionists are misleading the public about the evidence for evolution. Also included are Natural Law, the Problem of Evil, and how the New Testament Apostles used evidence in their missionary work. Stay tuned, It's all very exciting.
Alexandria Meulemans (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2016-10-21 6:41:16pm
Hi Mr. Quist! You're very welcome! First off, congratulations on your book that will be coming out next year at this time. I am sure that next year will be a very exciting and busy time for you. Your book sounds really interesting with your research about Christianity; most importantly to show evolutionists that these facts are real and what they are teaching to students at universities is complete garbage and not even true to get them on there side which is sad. The title of your book was definitely eye catching to me and I cannot wait to read it! I will make sure that in 2017 I will look for the Lutheran Sentinel for your article and other articles that are similar to yours too. Good luck!
Hailey Krause (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2016-10-19 2:01:21am
This article was very compelling and allowed me to learn new things that enrich my knowledge of Christianity. Email and other media sites allow us to make connections, share opinions, and voice our thoughts to the world. It doesn’t matter whether you’re popular or well-known: you can be heard just as loudly as the next person. It doesn’t matter if you live hours or days apart: you can chat in real-time, and keep up with every detail of a loved one’s daily life. I think that we are incredibly blessed to have the platform of social media to share the Word of God. It is important to remember the manner in which we use it is the test of true character. We have a responsibility to show Christ in every single thing we say or do! The Shroud is the perfect example of the proof of Jesus and in order to continue His mission, we must use our gifts and platforms to share encouraging words from Scripture, inspire someone, lead them to the Lord or look to God for guidance. The Word of God is powerful and if it can be spread through our social media centered generation, we can truly make a difference in the world. Thank you Mr. Quist for this inspiring article!
Jamar Kelly (Bethany Lutheran College) 2016-10-20 12:46:43pm
I like this article a lot. It goes to a non-christian believer that Jesus is real. God works wonders as it said in Psalms 72:18 "Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders." The photograph of the linen cloth is a great indicator that he really does work miracles.
Allen J Quist (1944) 2016-10-20 7:23:25pm
Hi Jamar,
Very well said. In addition, it appears that we have an actual photograph of Jesus himself, likely taken the moment he rose from the dead. HIs followers will be raised the same way!

Megan and Adam (Martin Luther College) 2016-10-25 2:02:41pm
"This article will describe a discovery that has been scrutinized extensively by the world of science and at the same time points to the gospel message of Jesus, the Savior. It also gives solid reasons for believing that the message of Jesus is true." We found this quote to be interesting, because science is trying to prove that there is no possible way that it was Jesus' shroud. And the facts proved that this most likely could be Jesus' shroud.

How do you know there is damage that needs to be repaired on the shroud? The statement of the carbon-14 test was a very important part in determining whether the shroud was truly from Jesus or not. We think that it is very interesting that the shroud was proved to be from the 14th century. The reason for asking this question is just out of curiosity of how you learned the the shroud had been damaged.
Allen J Quist (1944) 2016-10-25 10:42:37pm
Hi Megan and Adam,

These are very good questions. Regarding the repairs to the Shroud, the historical records that we have reveal that the Shroud survived two fires. One of the fires was so hot that it partially melted the silver box that contained the shroud. There are clearly visible scorch marks around the edges of the Shroud as a result of these fires. To the best of my knowledge, no one who has studied the Shroud doubts that these two fires occurred and that they damaged the Shroud.

The fact that the portion of the Shroud used for the Carbon-14 test was from a spliced-in piece of cloth is a conclusion drawn from three observations. The first is that the portion of the cloth used for the Carbon-14 testing contains a dye that was added to give the spliced-in cloth the same outward appearance as the original cloth. There is no dye on the main part of the cloth that bears the image, however. Secondly, the spliced-in portion of the cloth contains threads of a fabric that is different from and is not found in, the main portion of the linen cloth. And, thirdly, careful inspection of the Shroud reveals that there is a seam where the new cloth was spliced onto the older and major portion of the cloth. For these reasons, there is no serious doubt that the portion of the Shroud used for the Carbon-14 dating came from a spliced-in segment and not from the original cloth.

As a result of these objective and demonstrable factors, those who still claim that the Carbon-14 tests reveal that the Shroud to dates back only to the 13th or 14 Centuries are either unaware of the facts regarding the spliced in cloth, or otherwise are simply unwilling to see and hear the information that is there.

And let me restate this point: Science can never prove the Shroud to be authentic because if it is, then the image on the cloth was formed in a miraculous way. Science can only describe how nature usually operates. It cannot explain miracles. Science can only tell us what the Shroud is not--it is not a painting. It is not an artwork of any kind, It is not a fraud. There is no known way that such an image could have been formed. Modern science cannot reproduce an image anything like this. All this should remind us of what Richard Dawkins, the famous atheist now turned agnostic, said when he was asked how life began. Replied Dawkins, "I have no idea." Such is the nature of miracles. The honest scientific explanation is that there is no scientific explanation.

Heriberto Diaz (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2016-10-30 5:01:44pm
This article was very interesting and it allowed me to learn more about the Christian faith.
Benjamin Gorr 2016-10-31 12:36:00pm
As the saying goes: "You learn something new everyday." I never knew this to be in existence! I'm actually very fascinated such an old piece of potential evidence exists, after I am done writing this, I am going to go do some more research. I think the most interesting thing is that the person was whipped, which is contrary to normal crucifixion. Could you please explain this "energy" thing and how it could leave a "photograph" on linen?
Kelsey Sitz (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2016-11-01 12:53:05am
This was very interesting for me to read because I actually had not really heard of the Shroud before I started reading this post. It is interesting that this showed up before the world really knew much about photography because, like you said, it could not have been faked in that time due to the fact that it was a negative. I like that at the end you define a miracle as something that is ultimately led by faith and it is a phenomenon that cannot be explained in any scientific way. This Shroud is a ver interesting topic to explore and you definitely sparked my interest with it. I would love to do more research and look further into this, so thank you so much for sharing!