A couple of months ago, I was watching a DVD of a Christian talk, and the speaker asked the question, “Do you believe that what you believe is really real?” Now this was rather a thought-provoking question. Up until that time, while I had certainly dabbled in a bit of reading and thinking about subjects like Christianity vs atheism, creation vs evolution, I really hadn’t spent a lot of time with them.

To tell the truth, I’d been happy most of the time just to accept that, out of all belief systems, Christianity was probably the one that made the most sense.

But as to real . . . that’s a bigger leap than I realised. It’s effectively saying that all other belief systems are wrong. Not that I necessarily believed they were correct, I jus haven’t really thought through for myself exactly why they’re wrong.

So, I’ve felt a bit challenged, I must admit.

So, to that end, I decided that I shall brush up on my apologetics a little bit and (at some stage), I’m going to have to be prepared to start reading and addressing for myself the objections to Christianity that are out there and that are put forward.

I started with The Case for Christ because I’d started reading it several years ago and never finished it, so it seemed as good a place as any.

For those of you who haven’t read it (and as the picture says, there’s been over 2 million sold – so quite a lot of Christians have read it), Lee Strobel was a former journalist specialising in law and court cases in Chicago. He was also a dedicated atheist up until 1981. The reason for his conversion was that his wife became a Christian. Lee decided to research up on Christianity to prove to his wife that it was all wrong – however, in doing the research, he came to the completely opposite conclusion. He became a Christian, and is now a pastor.

This book is kind of a “reconstruction”, if you like, of his original quest for answers. It consists of Lee going around to various Christian scholars and getting their opinion on various questions like the reliability of the Gospels, evidence for the resurrection, etc. On its own, it’s fairly convincing.

I think if you, as a Christian, want a bit of a reminder that there are some rational reasons for believing in Jesus, this book is a good place to start. If what you want to do is tackle atheists, this can only be the beginning. For a number of reasons:

1. Lee is digging up Christian scholars, asking them his own questions that he had, and getting them to answer him. But to be effective against the current echelon of atheists, he needs to be asking the questions that they are asking.

2. Which brings us to the fact that he only addresses a few snippets from various atheist/agnostic books. Does this represent all their thinking? Or just the problems that he wants to answer?

As the Proverb says, a story sounds good until you hear the other side of the story.

I should say up front, I’m not in any way attempting to knock Lee’s book. I think it’s a very good introduction to what is known as evidentiary apologetics (ie defending the faith by using proofs and evidences – usually for the validity of the Bible and Christ’s death and resurrection). But my current line of thinking is: how do we answer the objections to Christianity that are currently out there? For instance, critics have responded to The Case for Christ. This feels a little bit like a (albeit well-meaning) one-sided straw man argument, written for people who haven’t done any reading up on the other side, and are unlikely ever to do so.

Sadly, the far bigger question is this – even if we do work out a definitive answer to these things, how do we change the minds of those people who just accept the status quo? For the most part, in our day and age, only a handful of people actually think through the big issues of what is true and false, right and wrong. The rest of the population is happy to just accept what everybody else accepts. So even if the academics (either Christian or non-Christian) present compelling arguments, how is that going to impact on everyone else?

The quest for answers continues, I guess . . .

In the meantime, this is a 4 out of 5.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Case for Christ (Lee Strobel)

  1. My compliments to you sir for your objectivity.

    As a person whose beliefs range between agnosticism and liberal Christianity , I find most apologetics unpersuasive. However, I find Strobel’s work particularly bothersome because his frequent use of legal analogies gives the impression that he is presenting some sort of objective fact finding process rather than zealously advocating one side. I frequently run across evangelical Christians who believe that Strobel gives them a good understanding of the evidence and arguments that a skeptic would present. It is refreshing to find a Christian who is willing to acknowledge the limitations of Strobel’s approach.

    I am particularly impressed by your willingness to link to a skeptic’s review of “The Case for Christ.” Like you, when I read a book on one side of an issue, I like to take a look at what the scholars on the other side have to say about it. It may not change my opinion of the book, but it shapes the extent to which I might cite it as an authority when discussing the topic. I am amazed at the number of Christians who think that skeptics would find Strobel’s books convincing.

    Should you wish to read something from the opposite perspective, I would suggest “Misquoting Jesus” by Professor Bart Ehrman. Dr. Ehrman provides a very readable introduction to the field of textual criticism by examining how variants arose in the manuscripts of the New Testament as they were copied and recopied through the centuries. Dr. Ehrman’s qualifications as a scholar are acknowledged by all sides. Conservatives disagree with the conclusions he draws about the implications of the variants for the doctrines of inspiration and inerrancy, but there seems to be no dispute about the basic facts he details.

  2. Hi Vinny,

    Thanks for your comments. My beliefs would be well and truly in the conservative Christian bandwidth, but I believe that my obligation as a Christian is to tackle controversies and issues head-on, rather than just stick my fingers in my ears and pretend they don’t exist.

    The biggest problem which I suppose all of us face is that, as human beings, we’re limited in our knowledge at any point in time. We never know *everything*. There’s always another book, another article, another something out there that can add to what we understand.

    Which means, of course, that with all of this apologetics and arguments, there are always going to be some things we don’t yet know – so while we can reach a point where we’re reasonably satisfied in our own mind about something (and for some people that point requires a lot less investigation than others), from a purely human point of view we’re not going to know that we’ve got it right.

    By the same token, we’re also going to have base assumptions that we’re going to have to accept. For instance (and my next post will talk more about this), are we going to accept logic and reason as the basis for working these things out? If the Bible clashed with science and there was no apparent resolution, which would be right? These are things that people take sides on, as basic assumptions, without having a convincing proof for them. There are some things that cannot be proved.

    However, that certainly doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to ask questions, and if He calls us to love Him with all of our hearts and soul and *minds*, then if we go looking for answers, I believe He will provide them.

    But, early days in this quest yet, so we’ll see how things go.

  3. You guys might like Francis S. Collins’ book The Language of God…Collins headed up the Human Genome Project, and he believes that faith in God and faith in science can co exist….it is an interesting read – he pulls a lot from Lewis’ Mere Christianity, and…he doesn’t let either side off the hook so to speak.

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