Daniel Buttafuoco Presents Evidence for the Faith
Dan Buttafuoco is a board-certified civil trial lawyer and founder of Buttafuoco & Associates, a personal injury law firm in Woodbury, New York. He’s also a Christian apologist; founder of the Historical Bible Society, which collects and preserves ancient biblical texts and manuscripts; and author of Consider the Evidence: A Trial Lawyer Examines Eyewitness Testimony in Defense of the Reliability of the New Testament (2018).
You were born into a family of missionaries and evangelists. But as the saying goes, God does not have grandchildren; he only has children. How did you become a Christian?
I was immersed in the Bible from an early age. My first words were probably Scripture, and I have very early memories of singing hymns. My uncle was pastor of an Assemblies of God church, and my father’s side of the family were street preachers. I actually remember accompanying them on missions on the street.
I came to faith when I was about 10. There was a guy in church singing, and I was very moved. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, and my uncle asked me if I would like to give my heart to Jesus. I did, but I didn’t really get serious about God until I was about 16.
I was puzzled by the whole thing. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, because what I saw in church didn’t add up with what I read in the Bible. I guess I was looking for any excuse not to believe, especially when I reached my high school years. What gave me the best excuse was when I saw the organ player and the chief usher fighting in the church parking lot. I thought, if this is supposed to be religion based on love, I’m not seeing it here. It took a while for me to reconcile the God of the New Testament with what I was seeing in church. That’s probably a lot of people’s experience.
And so, I immersed myself in academics. I came from a poor family, and my way out of that was education. My parents encouraged me to pursue a scholastic career path, and I read a lot. I still read a lot. Later on, I decided to try to understand why we believe what we believe, and that’s how I got into apologetics.
Unlike the rest of your family, you did not go into full-time ministry, but you became a lawyer. How did that come about?
I got swept up in the “Jesus Revolution” revival. I wasn’t quite a hippie, but I sort of had those leanings. I went to church every night in the summer of 1974, except for Monday nights, and it wasn’t only because of the pretty girls that were there. Church would start at 7ish, and we’d leave at midnight. I distinctly remember being very impacted by that. It’s where I met my wife. I literally prayed for a girlfriend on Wednesday and met my wife on Friday.
As part of that movement, we were sitting around in a circle one night, and someone asked, What do you want to do when you get older? They went around the circle, and the answers were, pastor, pastor, pastor, until it came to me, and I said, lawyer. Everybody looked at me like I was demon-possessed. I don’t know why, but I felt the call of God in doing that. And it turned out great, because I’m actually much more suited to be a lawyer.
I got caught up in the success and the money about 25 years ago, and God had to deal with me. He explained to me very clearly that it was not about making money or getting the biggest verdict or gigantic settlements. It’s about helping people. “You have the cart before the horse,” he said. “You’re aiming for the money, instead of aiming for helping people.” God spoke to me in a way that made me realize that every successful person in the world was not trying to get rich. The ones that are truly successful were trying to solve a problem.
I went through a tough time there, with some major issues in my life where God was using hardship as discipline for about a four-year period. That was very dark, and that’s when I decided to go to Bible school and clear my head of all of the courtroom stuff I’d picked up.
My wife suggested I take an apologetics course, so I took one course and then a second one. Later, I started to blog. I write articles defending the faith. Some are funny, and some are very serious. Some put out gospel calls for repentance and salvation. I cover a wide variety of topics—law, philosophy, and theology, and I think I do it from a somewhat unique perspective as a trial lawyer and someone who is a specialist in evidence. What does it take to prove something? That’s something that I bring to the table.
You wrote that your life was forever transformed with the acquisition of the 1560 Geneva Bible, and that eventually led to the Historical Bible Society.
God had an amazing plan here which I could have never thought of on my own—this crazy, unusual, and very rare and valuable collection of antique Bibles and manuscripts.
We started with the 1560 Geneva Bible, which is the first Bible ever with chapter and verse. It was an illegal book in that the organized church did not want the Bible translated into English. The book that really got me going, though, was the first edition 1611 King James Bible. When you look at it, your jaw drops open. It’s just that beautiful. I realized that this is something that engenders interest in people, so I decided to start filling in the gaps. What else could I get?
We started to show them in churches. My talk centers around how we got the Bible. It’s a history lesson about a story that isn’t being told. I spoke at an Arabic church in Chicago to over 100 college kids, and they peppered me with questions. It was amazing. We’ve had some really cool experiences with this.
And then you wrote Consider the Evidence. What motivated that?
Unfortunately, a lot of Christian apologetics takes place in the stratosphere, where you have intellectuals talking to each other at a very high level, guys that are just super-brains. And they write these tomes that you could lift weights with, but the public has no idea what they’re talking about. My skill set is to take complex truths and break them down for jurors. So, I wanted someone to be able to read that book on the train going to work, or on vacation. Because these ideas are wonderful! We have great arguments for the Christian truth. When I found out these arguments, I was overjoyed. I thought, This is great stuff! Why don’t we know about this?
I believe it’s how I serve the Lord—to get this stuff down into the public domain, where you could have the plumber talking to the plumber. And when someone says the Bible was only written by men, someone else could come back with an answer like, Yeah, but those men were eyewitnesses to Jesus, and Jesus claimed to be God. I want these kinds of discussions to happen.
You work in the secular realm, but you proactively put your faith out there.
There hasn’t been much downside. People respect you for it, especially in the courts. They know where I stand on these issues. We keep our word. We don’t kick our adversaries when they’re down. I want to win, but I don’t want to humiliate anyone. We’re honest. We do whatever it takes to help people. And I think when you’re helping people, others see that.
What’s your greatest joy?
Oh, my greatest joy is playing with the grandkids. One of them says, “Pop knows everything.” But, I’m like, “Guys, I don’t know everything. Only Jesus knows everything.”
What’s next for you?
I want to go full steam to the end. A woman asked me once, Dan, who’s your favorite saint? “That’s easy,” I said, “It’s Peter. Peter was an ordinary guy and a fisherman. And I’m an ordinary guy, and I love to fish.” It’s amazing what God can do with ordinary people.
is Deputy Editor of Salvo and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.Get Salvo in your inbox! This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #66, Fall 2023 Copyright © 2023 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo66/counselor-at-law-apologist-at-heart