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.