**spoiler alert** I was interested in this book because, as an atheist, I think it is a worth-while endeavor to learn what Christians believe about no**spoiler alert** I was interested in this book because, as an atheist, I think it is a worth-while endeavor to learn what Christians believe about non-believers. I learned that Strobel doesn't appear to understand non-believers, and instead sees them as marks to whom he can sell his particular brand of snake oil. I am not convinced that Strobel was truly an atheist before he took the plunge into evangelical Christianity, but, as I've said elsewhere, believed himself an atheist in retrospect when really he was some ambiguous pseudo-believer. He even admits to never having critically evaluated his positions when he was an "atheist." He uses this "I used to be an atheist" line to lend some kind of authority to what he writes, which comes off as disingenuous and patronizing.
While this book did provide information on what to expect when encountering evangelical Christians, it is a demonstration of the intellectual dishonesty (or--at best--the fundamental intellectual/moral confusion) one must possess to believe in the unsubstantiated claims of Christianity. He asserts that there is evidence, archeological, historical, etc., but just asserts that there is, citing an "authority" and moves on. He never consults atheist biblical scholars who might have a different view that is more informed by all the facts, not just the ones that conveniently support the assertions he makes. As anyone who has read The Case for Christ will remember, he merely interviews theologians, and accepts on faith the answers given after some feigned debate. Ironically, he criticizes churches that only cite the experts from their own denomination to support their claims, and yet this is the exact tactic one encounters in Case for Christ and Case for a Creator.
Perhaps the best example of the insidiousness of Strobel's salesman strategy is the steps he outlines to convert people. This is actually a great example of how ideas act like viruses in their ability to take control of a host, and replicate so as to infect other people, thus perpetuating the mind-virus indefinitely. It can be likened to the frog sitting in gradually boiling water:
1. Establish an "authentic" relationship with non-believers --how the relationship can be "authentic" is a mystery given that there is an explicitly stated ulterior motive of showing them "the free gift of forgiveness." 2. Witness to the non-believer how god has changed/shaped the life of the believer, forgiving them for a life of sin. 3. Invite unbelievers to a seeker-oriented service -- a special service that is no doubt used to soft-positional bargain one's way into the mind of a naive unbeliever who doesn't think critically. 4. Once the nonbeliever has accepted Christ, becoming a now-believer, transition them to the believer-oriented service -- note how they have different types of services with different rhetorical purposes. 5. Now-believer joins the small group to grow spiritually -- peer-pressure the poor mark to become increasingly involved with the church by associated with those who have similar skills and interests. 6. Now-believer becomes increasingly involved with the church 7. Process starts all over again with Now-believer seeking out other unbelievers to pass the god virus along to other gullible, uncritical believers.
One thing is for certain: Strobel LOVES his imaginary friend, and can't be happy unless everyone else loves his imaginary friend in the exact same way that he does. He shows the clear desire to live as a slave, calling it "freedom in Christ." ...more
It is hard to overstate the excellence of this book, or the accessibility of the translation. The Art of Living presents the lessons of Epictetus in aIt is hard to overstate the excellence of this book, or the accessibility of the translation. The Art of Living presents the lessons of Epictetus in a way that is easy to understand and apply. Among the core themes of this work is understanding what lies within one's control, and what is outside of it. An appreciation of what lies within the realm of control is the path to wisdom, inner tranquility and outer effectiveness. We can control our thoughts and opinions, for example, but we cannot control the thoughts and opinions of others. Time wasted in trying to control the thoughts and actions of others, says Epictetus, are commonly thwarted, and result in frustration and blame-seeking. Highly recommended!...more