‘The Shroud: Face to Face’ – A Journey from Skepticism to Faith

Sobering documentary re-examines one of Christianity's biggest questions

“Yeah, right, modern proof of a metaphysical occurrence (resurrection) 2,000 years ago.” I thought when asked to consider making a film about The Shroud.

I knew little to nothing about it and was not about to embark on a new project around a controversial relic.

My journey with “The Shroud” began after losing my Father on Christmas Eve 2021. I decided to return to graduate school in Princeton to finish my religious degree in Biblical studies. Until I encountered the backlit replica in a small rustic retreat house in Santiago, Calif.

Something clicked in the icon’s detail, and it seemed eerily accurate, given the uniquely detailed information.

The Shroud: Face To Face | Official Trailer | Robert Orlando

In my earlier readings of the skeptics, I found their arguments could have been more coherent and principled. However, despite my skepticism, I was compelled to investigate further, and the case came down to three vital counter-factors.

  1. The first factor revolves around the supposed absent timeline of The Shroud’s appearances, which, though imperfect and filled with holes, shows the Shroud appearing several times throughout history. Also, the Gospel verses of the shroud in the empty tomb after a resurrection lent credence to its authenticity.
  2. Secondly, Bishop of Troyes’s 1389 letter to Antipope Clement VII, as a painted forgery, written to a rival power and during a schism well aware that ownership of the Shroud might be a sign of the true church, denied its authenticity. Even though there is no evidence on the Shroud, the letter contradicts its claim of being artificially painted.
  3. Lastly, the carbon dating, presented in 1988 by S.T.U.R.P. as definitive proof of The Shroud’s inauthenticity, has now been challenged. The carbon sample was taken from the fringe part of the linen, which was patched and sewn from damage, making it a poor sample. Additionally, there are uncertainties about the differentiation of carbon sources, raising doubts about the accuracy of the dating. 

Further, I questioned how they could differentiate what carbon came from the image, from the environments the linen had traveled, or in the well-documented fire.

The answer was they couldn’t.

New articles and evidence now show the weaknesses of the original findings. If believers and skeptics cannot sit perfectly on one side or the other regarding definitive proof, one can argue that both need to be seen through the looking glass of faith and reason in my investigation.

And that made the quest enjoyable as someone who believes very strongly in natural revelation. If God is the god of redemption or resurrection, he would also be the god of his creation, even if fallen, with natural laws that could be discovered even about his life and death, which made even the notion of afterlife possible.

At least in the case of Jesus and the Shroud, a blast of light passed through the linen and did not burn it, leaving a hair’s width of a detailed, 3D image encoded and configured as a crucified man.

The Shroud: A Forensic Investigation with Robert Orlando

If the findings of the most studied relic in history have become a mystery, and I would argue even more and more about authenticity, why would anyone suppress it? Why be skeptical on the face of it, even without any religious commitments?

And this is when I realized my film about the Shroud would be tied with the story of the historical Jesus. No one can prove the resurrection, but there is evidence and testimony that could argue it is true or false.

In the end, my investigation led me to somewhere I wasn’t expecting, and that is science, as support with faith is a great tool to be cautious and precise, and even skepticism has its role.

Still, in the end, mysteries and gaps in our understanding exist. The Shroud skepticism was not science but scientism or a new religion, as outlined in my new book and film, “The Shroud: Face to Face.” What I am saying as an author and film investigator is that we can think we objectively view the world or history but in the end, we more or less encounter it Face to Face.

For more information on the Good Friday Premiere (tonight) or the Shroud book and film, please visit TheShroudFilm.com. The presentation begins at 7 pm EST and features a post-screening Q&A.

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