There's little question that he actually lived. But miracles? Rising from the dead? Some of the stories you hear about him sound like just that - stories. A reasonable person would never believe them, let alone the claim that he's the only way to God! But a reasonable person would also make sure that he or she understood the facts before jumping to conclusions. That's why Lee Strobel - an award-winning legal journalist with a knack for asking tough questions - decided to investigate Jesus for himself. An atheist, Strobel felt certain his findings would bring Christianity's claims about Jesus tumbling down like a house of cards. He was in for the surprise of his life. Join him as he retraces his journey from skepticism to faith. You'll consult expert testimony as you sift through the truths that history, science, psychiatry, literature, and religion reveal. Like Strobel, you'll be amazed at the evidence - how much there is, how strong it is, and what it says. The facts are in. What will your verdict be in The Case for Christ?
Lee Patrick Strobel is an American Christian author, journalist, apologist and pastor. He has written several books, including four which received ECPA Christian Book Awards (1994, 1999, 2001, 2005) and a series which addresses challenges to a Biblically inerrant view of Christianity. Strobel also hosted a television program called Faith Under Fire on PAX TV, and runs a video apologetics web site. Strobel has been interviewed on numerous national television programs, including ABC's 20/20, Fox News, and CNN.
As with any religious book, objectivity is impossible (since religion, by loose definition, is subjective experience of that which is unproven); so here's my subjective opinion as a Christian.
Non-believers If you are a non-believer, you're going to fall into one of three general groups: atheists, agnostics, and seekers (and that fourth most special group made up of all the people who just refuse to be grouped by a small-minded Christian, dammit :) ).
If you are actually a member of that fourth group, I'm gonna call you an anti-theist (basically, someone who does care and wants it all snuffed out). If you are a member of this group, please don't read this book or the rest of this review. The book will just make you angry because it's completely biased against everything that makes sense in the world. If you read it, or my review, you'll just be confirmed in your anger, which serves no purpose. So go home, you're right, it's a book written by a man who used to hate Jesus before we tricked him into believing, and this review is by another blank-eyed drone as well.
If you are an atheist, then this is not a book that will entertain you, because it is biased FOR Christ. I have one (ONE) friend who is an ACTUAL atheist ... a person who has no relationship with the question of God (a-theist as opposed to anti-theist) ... she just doesn't care and she wouldn't be bothered to read this book any more than I would be bothered to read a treatise on corduroy pants (I'm an a-corduroyist, I just don't care). Go read the phone book or something, it will interest you just as much.
If you're an agnostic, this book could actually interest you. It is written by a relatively well-educated (Yale, I believe) and erudite (Legal Editor of the Chicago Tribune) man who was investigating his relationship with God and used the tools and training of legal forensics to challenge the authenticity of Christ. As you can guess from the title, you know how that investigation turned out; but the journey is enlightening in regards to many of the fallacious suppositions presented by disbelievers -- and I promise you that this book won't "strike you Christian" if you read it. I'd suggest reviewing the chapter headings and see if that whets your appetite. If so, enjoy it, it's short and interesting. If not, God be with you, thanks for reading my review.
If you are a seeker, by which I mean someone who is beginning to realize that, whoa, this Jesus topic has legs of its own and I'm not sure what's happening in my life but it might be cool (is He like really real?) -- I'd suggest that you read this book with a Christian friend, perhaps even a Pastor or Youth Pastor. It's got a lot of great conversation starters, and it doesn't propose any ideas that are dramatically challenging if reviewed with an open and willing heart. If you can't find anyone else, then maybe you're reading this review for a reason - ping me and maybe we'll read it together.
Christians If you are a Christian, TCFC is a good book to offer a concise list of rebuttals for common arguments against Christ's authenticity (it's the case FOR Christ, as in the legal DEFENSE). It can be used as a conversation facilitator with folks who are seeking something Spiritual, and often as a decent structural underpinning for the initial process of coming to the Lord.
Most Christians who love this book tend to love it because it represents a good set of responses to some of the tougher questions raised by "arguers." It helps avoid personal conflict and gives a Christian the opportunity to say "here, read this book", thus taking the heat off of the way you dress, or how you voted in last year's election. It allows Christians to show some desire to share the Spiritual Love of God that we all enjoy without having to debate and argue directly with the very person with whom we were originally trying to share our Joy (presumably a friend).
That's its purpose. It is not a goad to trick smart people into believing mythology, or an attack on "the left" from a sneaky author -- it's overtly titled the case FOR Christ, and it's that -- one side of a limited debate based upon a FEW questions that often confound Christians and Spiritual seekers about Christ.
Everything else is noise. This is a book that, like religion, involves personal opinion -- and just as no amount of yelling or screaming is going to change whether you do or don't like chocolate ice-cream, no amount of screaming or yelling is going to make people change their feelings about this book or its Topic.
Changing subjective opinions can only be a shared process of Love based on trust, and website reviews are a stark medium for sharing words of Love on any subject, wouldn't you say?
At the beginning of The Case for Christ Strobel presents himself as a journalist and a former atheist/skeptic who is about to conduct a serious investigative search into whether or not Jesus is exactly what orthodox/fundamentalist Christian churches teach him to be - the God Man with miraculous powers born of a virgin to die for the sins of the world, etc., etc.
But here's the problem - the contents of this book are nothing resembling serious investigative journalism. They are a collection of arguments, quotes, and information almost 100% of which are supplied by a small group of like-minded, Evangelical Christian apologists. Strobel never interviews any of the many, many other scholars with views that differ from that of this small, very conservative Evangelical group. (And there are plenty of scholars just as, if not more, qualified and respected who would disagree with what the members of Stobel's clique have to say.)
I rate TCFC at 1 star not because I disagree with the arguments presented in it (which I do), but because it's so dishonest. It claims to be investigative reporting when it presents only a mass of one-sided, biased apologetical material. After having spent years as an investigate journalist, Strobel is either clueless as to what constitutes investigative journalism (possible, but unlikely), or he began this project already possessing a set of strong religious convictions, proceeded to gather only those arguments, interviews, and info which support these particular convictions, and then combined that material into a book dishonestly marketed as investigative journalism (the more likely case).
Strobel is free to write whatever kind of books he wants, but he isn't free to make false claims without expecting to be called out on them.
The true intended audience for TCFC are Christians who are looking for somebody to tell them exactly what they want to hear, that all the traditional (and overly-simplistic) beliefs they were taught about Jesus in Sunday School are true and proven. TCFC is not a book written for critical thinkers looking for an honest exploration of well-researched and well-supported scholarship and arguments concerning who Jesus was.
[Updated 7/19] I used to recommend Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? edited by Paul Copan as a more honest discussion of opposing viewpoints about Jesus written for the average reader where different sides get to present their own views in their own words (although one that is still quite slanted in it's presentation). I'd also like to add The Historical Jesus: Five Views edited by James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy to the list of recommendations as a book that offers a greater variety of opinions with less of a slanted presentation. In addition, here is a link to the The Early Christian Writings Historical Jesus webpage that offers an even wider range of theories and scholarship about the historical Jesus.
My review for this book and The Case For Faith are the same, since I read them at the same time five years ago and can't remember which topics were in which books. I managed to forget I ever read them, and only when I saw them on this site did remember.
These books were given to me by a guy I was dating at the time who decided I'd only be an acceptable wife if I converted to Christianity (I'm currently single, if you're wondering how well that went over). It's a shame he chose these books as his main plan of attack, because they're terrible.
Lee Strobel's first mistake is that he tries to answer everything with a pat, definitive response. The tone he uses is one that says, "AH! This is so simple, now that you've explained it! How does anyone not understand?" As most people realize, religion is complicated and often requires you to just believe in things that you take on faith, rather than because it's been proven by evidence. Trying to argue for faith makes faith a moot point.
When answering the question, "If there's a God, why does he allow such suffering in this world?" Strobel trots out the tired response, "Because God gave us free will." For a book that's supposed to help convert people, that answer isn't going to reassure someone who had strong objections in the first place. It also fails to acknowledge that we really just don't know, and that we tell ourselves this to try to make sense of things, not because we know for sure.
Strobel also tried to address deep questions with anecdotes - one that sticks out in my mind to this day was a response to a question about how people who never heard of Jesus could be saved, and isn't it a flaw of the religion if it only applied to people who happened to live in a place where Jesus was brought to their attention? Strobel somehow thought that a story about a Muslim girl in a Muslim country who one day randomly thought "I need Jesus's help" and secretly became Christian answered it sufficiently and proved that we will just know Jesus in our hearts.
Other answers required a preexisting belief in order to make sense. They reminded me of the circular argument the aforementioned ex-boyfriend would give for Jesus's divinity - Jesus is God, so since he says he's God, if I don't believe he's God, I'm calling God a liar.
The kicker for me was a chapter about the prediction of the Messiah in the Jewish bible - Strobel managed to find an ignorant Jew who must have never done even the minimal Torah study. With his help, Strobel spins a conspiracy where Rabbis hide the fact that the Jewish bible prophesied the arrival of the Messiah. The ignorant Jew tells Strobel all about how he didn't know such a thing was foretold, and it was such a revelation to him that he converted to Christianity. I want to find this guy and smack him up the side of the head with my Tanakh and suggest he look up that little thing about the descendant of King David.
Strobel would have done far better to admit that these are complicated questions for which we don't have all the answers, if we have any at all. The fact that he has an answer for everything just makes him look silly and arrogant. If religion were this easy, we wouldn't have the Talmud and Midrash.
This book will not persuade anyone who doesn't believe in his heart already.
Strobel claims to have been a serious skeptic about Jesus and to have done these interviews in the style of a serious journalist in order to decide for himself whether Christians are right.
I don't believe him. As an actual skeptic who is very familiar with the Bible, I find that Strobel consistently avoids the obvious problems with the arguments put forward. He interviews only Christians and blindly accepts everything they say. These are not the actions of a skeptic.
The fallacious logic at work here is shocking. At one point the reasoning goes exactly like this:
We know the New Testament is true because the early Christians who produced it were good people and so wouldn't have lied. We know the early Christians were good people because the New Testament says so.
I wish I were joking.
Christians: I am in some ways sympathetic to your cause, but you must understand that using the kind of reasoning that goes into this book or into the Intelligent Design nonsense only makes you look dumb to anyone who knows what he's talking about. Find a different angle. Alternatively, maybe you should think long and hard about the fact that people practicing apologetics for your faith consistently make errors in logic that an 8 year old could spot. Why exactly would that be?
[Now that I think about it, maybe this stuff isn't really meant to convert people, but only to prevent apostasy. It won't persuade anyone, but maybe it will reassure someone who isn't really questioning very hard but wants to make sure there's some reasoning behind his religion.]
This review is probably not as well-crafted as I would have hoped, since I am very swamped right now, and unable to do better. However, I wanted to write my thoughts on the book to the best of my ability as soon after I finished the audio version as possible so I wouldn't forget too much. I hope to reread it and analyze it more at a later date.
When I finished this book, I felt that Mr. Strobel tackled the tough questions about Christ that one might ask if they were skeptical about the faith and the person of Jesus Christ. I grew up in a Christian home and I have been a personal confessor of faith in Jesus for well over twenty years. However, it was good to take a hard look at the questions I didn't have the answers for from a scholarly standpoint. And I believe that Jesus wants anyone who chooses to follow him to count the cost and look hard at who he is. He is honest and righteous and doesn't want anyone to be misled about who he is. So I would say that anyone of my bent is encouraged to do the same.
I felt that Mr. Strobel showed his investigative journalism chops in addressing those important aspects of Christ's identity and the reliability of the evidence of his claim as the Son of God who died for the sins of every person who ever lived, and rose again from the grave, and the areas that one might use to discount his message and the affirming power of faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Ultimately, those who choose not to believe will probably continue to not believe (and they have that choice), but those who want to take that step to believe in him and have some factual proof about him and what faith in him offers, they will find enough here to further confirm that faith in Jesus is not blind faith, but a reasonable, eyes open step of faith. What I do not propose here is that this book takes the place of the Holy Bible, but instead, Strobel's investigation shows that the Bible is a reputable historical document and what it says about God and Jesus Christ is historically accurate. And for those who seek further inquiry, one will find a very good bibliographical source of reputable scholars who can offer even more sound information about Jesus Christ, the historicity of his persona, and the proven historical accuracy of the New Testament Gospels and how they relate to the Old Testament. In fact, this was one of strongest elements of the book for me, since it gave me even more books to read as I get the opportunity.
While I have seen plenty of 1 star reviews for this book, I personally feel justified in giving it 5 stars. One might argue that I like it because it justifies what I believe. That's not completely untrue. It does justify what I believe. I'm glad that I walked into this book with my brain prepared to take a hard look at the evidence and that scholarship was rewarded in Strobel's methodical and thorough investigative process. Let me add that I would have believed what I did anyway based on the process of my individual faith walk. Instead, this book just provides more solid evidence to underpin what I already believe.
I am a rational person. Very analytical, and I have never felt that having faith in God requires throwing out the thought processes and rational inquiry. After all, God gave us brains and he expects us to use them. So for me, this book takes a thinking person who values factual evidence and solid inquiry on a logical investigation into the identity of Jesus of Nazareth, who has proven he is the Son of God in so many ways that those who believe in him will not find themselves disappointed with that decision in the long run.
The Case for Christ is a collection of interviews that retraces journalist Lee Strobel's journey from skepticism to faith. Not content to merely take someone's word for it, Strobel used his journalism and law training to track down and agressively interview experts on Christ and the Christian faith. Because Strobel is willing to ask taboo questions and attempts to poke irreparable holes in his own faith, the answers he finds from various professors and clergy are both compelling and intellectually sound. This book is an excellent resource for apologetics looking for ammunition against attacks on the reliability of the Gospels, the nature and identity of Christ and the Ressurection. For those who haven't yet made up their minds, this book could be the tipping point. Strobel's case is both concise and compelling, but the personal testimony of some of the interviewees resonates at the personal level, giving a final human touch to a book that is engaging, challenging and moving all at the same time.
*picks jaw up off the floor* This book is one of the best Christian Faith books I have ever read. Seriously, I think every Christian should read this once in their life. That verse about always being ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you, this book is a tool. It gives you answers. Gives you succinct, well organized and easily understood principles and answers to common questions and theory’s about the Christian Faith. I found that it strengthened mine and filled my “tool box” with essential facts and arguments that bolstered my faith, but also prepared me for those questions that are sure to come at some time or other.
He splits his book into four parts
1~ Examining the Record wherein he searches out the truth behind the scriptures and testimonies of Jesus, asking every question from the point of view of the skeptic. Trying every theory, only to find that Jesus is the point where every fact, prophesy, and testimony are fulfilled. 2~ Analyzing Jesus is the section where he touches on the subject of whether Jesus fit the bill of the messiah. (the answer of course is yes) but he walks us through 4 major points of interest as to how he fit that bill. His own thoughts about himself, prophesies, and whether he fulfilled the attributes of God. 3~ Researching the Resurrection. In this section, Lee, attempts to prove that perhaps the Resurrection did not happen at all, and comes to the complete opposite conclusion. From medical analysis, to research of historical evidence, everything proves that Jesus of Nazareth did indeed rise from the dead. 4 ~ The Verdict of History. In this much shorter and condensed chapter, he makes a quick overview of everything we have just read, proving each point with short and information packed sentences that pack one powerful punch after another.
This book was so phenomenal when it came to it’s information. I can’t begin to say enough which is why this review is so short. If I could literally force feed everyone I know with this book, I would. (Look out siblings)
“Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah, ot the Anointed One, who would redeem God’s people. In effect, dozens of these Old Testament prophecies created a fingerprint that only the true messiah could fit. This gave Israel a way to rule out impostors and validate the credentials of the authentic Messiah. Against astronomical odds – one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion – Jesus and only Jesus throughout history matched this prophetic fingerprint. This confirms Jesus identity to an incredible degree of certainty.”
I also love reading the personal conclusion Lee Strobel came to himself.
“So on November 8, 1981, I talked with God in a heartfelt and unedited prayer, admitting and turning from my wrongdoing, and receiving the gift of forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus. I told him that with his help I wanted to follow him and his ways from here on out. There were no lightning bolts, no audible replies, no tingly sensations. I know that some people feel a rush of emotion at such a moment; as for me, however, there was something else that was equally exhilarating: there was a rush of reason.”
This book is quite possibly the most readable and engaging book to ever hit the field of apologetics; I recommend it to every Christian. The book chronicles Strobel's inquisitive journey as he questions some of the most astute thinkers alive today about some of the most pressing questions a Christian can ask. Read it for no other reason than to ground yourself more deeply in the True faith, to stand strong and to live a life of bold confidence.
P.S. Buy and watch the DVD (by the same title) that has recently come out based on this book. It incorporates more of Strobel's wife's journey as Lee spent years searching out the answers to the questions he had, which ultimately led to his conversion. It's intellectually engaging and emotionally dramatic.
Welcome to The Case for Christ, an investigation into the Christian faith with all the intellectual rigor of a teen study Bible. Join Lee Strobel as he examines the evidence from all sides by interviewing theologically conservative male Christians. You'll be astonished by the pronouncements of scholars who don't cite their sources, who appeal to proof-by-martyrdom, who regard early church creeds as evidence of historical events, and and who think first-century Jews believed in Hell. Please keep your hands and your credulity inside the car at all times.
Debunking every piece of nonsense presented in this book would be a book in itself, so I'll stick to underlining a few overarching errors in judgment.
Lee Strobel believes that his background as a legal journalist qualifies him to evaluate the validity of the Christian faith. That's his first mistake. The interview format is a great idea, though, because it allows Strobel to simply record the assertions of his interview subjects without citing sources or asking them to do so. The endnotes Strobel does provide don't begin to cover all the claims his witnesses make. This isn't so bad when someone says, "I think..." but it becomes a serious problem when the interviewee claims that "an increasing number of scholars are expressing serious reservations..." without mentioning who these scholars might be or how he knows this in the first place.
Strobel second mistake is to loudly proclaim his skepticism (though he is a professing Christian) while interviewing only people who agree with him. Methinks - well, you know. Even in the chapter titled "The Rebuttal Evidence," we don't actually get to see any of the rebuttal evidence; Strobel provides a hasty explanation of the Jesus Seminar, and quickly turns to a conservative scholar, who, unsurprisingly, refutes it. Strobel tells us that this scholar debates atheists "for fun," yet calls in his expertise only to scoff at the opinions of one small group of liberal theologians, and somehow considers this a fair rebuttal.
Strobel's third and silliest mistake is to apply American legal standards to matters of history, archaeology, literature, and philosophy. This courtroom model leads Strobel to conclude, presumably with a straight face, that if the New Testament writers got the names of the towns and reigning monarchs correct, they probably got everything else right. If you aren't convinced by this ridiculous claim, you may as well stop reading, because there isn't a chapter that follows that isn't predicated on the assumption that the New Testament is historically accurate, even though one of Strobel's later witnesses calls this assumption into question.
At this point, it hardly matters that Strobel is a thoroughly mediocre writer.
If you are a curious nonbeliever investigating Christianity, don't bother reading this book. Look for someone who actually made an effort.
If you're a Christian and you feel that your faith needs some bolstering by reason, ask yourself whether evidence would change your mind, one way or the other. If it wouldn't, why bother looking at evidence?
AWESOME! The Case for Christ records Lee Strobel's attempt to "determine if there's credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God." The book consists primarily of interviews between Strobel (a former legal editor at the Chicago Tribune) and biblical scholars such as Bruce Metzger. Each interview is based on a simple question, concerning historical evidence (for example, "Can the Biographies of Jesus Be Trusted?"), scientific evidence, ("Does Archaeology Confirm or Contradict Jesus' Biographies?"), and "psychiatric evidence" ("Was Jesus Crazy When He Claimed to Be the Son of God?"). Together, these interviews compose a case brief defending Jesus' divinity, and urging readers to reach a verdict of their own.
This book thoroughly investigates Jesus claim of being the one and only son of God. Lee Strobel took the time to seek out and question scholars who provide overwhelming evidence for Jesus as the Messiah. I have seen several criticisms of this book that say Lee did not talk to scholars who refute Jesus life, death, and resurrection. However, as a former atheist Lee gives due attention to the opposite side of the argument. As a Christian, I would recommend this book to anyone and challenge people to provide proof to the contrary of Lee Strobel's investigation. A person could spend a lifetime reviewing and reading information from his list of sources. After reading this book I have started looking at his source's and their life's work. The amount of information is simply overwhelming.
Good book. Some might say a bit sensational but then we may not have been where the writer has. I have given away several as gifts.
One of the objections I've read to this book is that the author tries to give "comprehensive" answers to "all" questions about Christianity. All groups of Christians don't agree on all these things. Still He's only attempting to give a perspective on them that makes sense to him and can to others. It's sort of the best anyone can do, lay out the best argument they can with the understanding they have.
I've seen comments from those who were upset at his answer to what is possibly the most asked question Christians hear. (And it's usually said "at them" or "us" rather than "asked"). It is of course, "why, if there is a good God are there disasters, why is there evil?"
I saw someone very upset who said that Strobel's answer was "free will". Well, that's a very simplified version of the answer. The answer goes all the way back in the Bible to the Adam and Eve story. Whether you accept it as a detailed account of creation or simply an account God gave that could be understood by humans from each generation whether primitive or (what we would call) modern. I've heard the story explained that when Adam and Eve took of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, that they suddenly "understood the difference" in good and evil. But the point of the account was/is that by deciding that they would disobey God "they" Adam and Eve, that is"humanity" took to itself the authority to decide what is good and what is evil. Humanity rejected God's authority and God allows it in that He doesn't force us.
Think about it. What people are asking when they ask this is "why won't God let me live just the way I want to and still make everything nice"? Now that is what's being asked. God basically is letting us have free rein. He only goes far enough to keep His hand in. He doesn't let us wipe ourselves out, he tells us He'll come and rule in the future, but pretty much all else He's left up to us. Maybe part of the reason is so that "we" (humanity,that is) will never be able to say, "if you'd just have given us a little longer, we'd have done it without you, we'd have gotten it right."
C.S.Lewis wrote (I think it was in Mere Christianity) that in the end all people would say to God Thy will be done or if they refused God would say to them, alright your will be done." Free will is God's way, but He refuses to let us destroy ourselves, no matter how much we may insist on it.
I suppose the bottom line is that seldom will two people take exactly the same route to faith or lack thereof. I'd suggest reading and taking the book for what it is, Strobel's experience, and get what you can from it. For example, I love almost everything C. S. Lewis has written, but he came to faith from atheism through the study of philosophy and classic thought. I read Pilgrim's Regress and got very little from it as I don't have Lewis's background in those disciplines. Lewis when he wrote the book did it because he thought (at the time) that most others came to faith in Christ the same way he did. I got what I could from that book. The same here.
Non-fiction isn't my strong suit, even though I'm hoping that it would be over time. XD The Case for Christ intrigued me from start to finish (it took me months to continue, though *facepalms*), and I've learned so much. I already feel like reading some of the stuff all over again just to keep it more solid in my head, haha. It answered so many questions that have been in my mind for some time, and even answered questions I didn't know could be questioned! So, for my own keeps sake, don't mind me here storing a bunch of quotes down below! ;)
#2 - Testing the Eyewitness evidence The Consistency Test "My own conviction is, once you've allowed for the elements I've talked about earlier--of paraphrase, of abridgement, of explanatory additions, of selection, of omission--the gospels are extremely consistent with each other by ancient standards, which are the only standards by which it's fair to judge them."
“Ironically," I pointed out, "if the gospels had been identical to each other, word for word, this would have raised charges that the authors had conspired among themselves to coordinate their stories in advance, and that would have cast doubt on them.”
#5 - The Scientific Evidence Spiritual truths cannot be proved or disproved by archaeological discoveries.
#6 - The Rebuttal Evidence Giving Evidence a Fair Hearing [context of this one quote: the Jesus Seminar] "Everyone would agree that you don't appeal to supernatural causes if you don't have to," Boyd said. "But these scholars go beyond that and say you don't ever have to. They operate under the assumption that everything in history has happened according to their own experiences, and since they've never seen the supernatural, they assume miracles have never occurred in history.
"Here's what they do: they rule out the possibility of the supernatural from the beginning, and then they say, 'Now bring on the evidence about Jesus.' No wonder they get the results they do!"
History versus Faith "But listen: Jesus is not a symbol of anything unless he's rooted in history." "The theological truth is based on historical truth." "I don't want to base my life on a symbol," he said resolutely. "I want reality, and the Christian faith has always been rooted in reality. What's not rooted in reality is the faith of liberal scholars. They're the ones who are following a pipe dream, but Christianity is not a pipe dream."
Combining History and Faith “It's like this: if you love a person, your love goes beyond the facts of that person, but it's rooted in the facts about that person. For example, you love your wife because she's gorgeous, she's nice, she's sweet, she's kind. All these things are facts about your wife, and therefore you love her.
"But your love goes beyond that. You can know all these things about your wife and not be in love with her and put your trust in her, but you do. So the decision goes beyond the evidence, yet it is there also on the basis of the evidence. So it is with falling in love with Jesus. To have a relationship with Jesus Christ goes beyond just knowing the historical facts about him, yet it's rooted in the historical facts about him.”
LOL, there are so many more but I think I'll stick with highlighting the book for now. 😂
Very fast-paced for a book on apologetics. I read it about 30 pages at a time, and didn't skip or skim anything until the final recap - this even though I was familiar with nearly all the material already.
An excellent apologetics primer for Christians preparing to share their faith. I also think it would be a good gift for nonbelievers who have exhibited some open-mindedness.
I always had the impression that this book grew from Strobel's personal quest to disprove Christianity. While that's true in a sense, it turns out that he had already been a Christian for 17 years when he sat down to do the interviews. So when he plays the devil's advocate with the scholars, playing is all he's doing. I'm pretty sure he knows the material almost as well as they do. The journey of writing the book was apparently a sort of reenactment of his actual conversion, which involved far less interesting interactions with books rather than with people.
In any event, The Case for Christ is what it says on the cover - a pretty compelling case.
Really guys, what are you disputing? Facts are facts. I was not an atheist, but have done great study on the reliability of the manuscripts of the New Testament. I have also debated in a liberal seminary with professors and scholars which I attended. Their arguments were blowing in the wind. There is NO reason to believe that Jesus was not who He was reported to be. Although I do not know Lee Strobel, he seems to have put forth a reasonable and well researched argument. Is it not liberals that ask us conservatives to read with an open mind? From the sound of it, you have already made up your mind before you even opened the book. Please be more open minded to those who disagree with your viewpoint. That is what tolerance is all about. I recommend you read any of Michael Green, C.S. Lewis, Schleiermacher (On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers), and I would include G.K. Chesterton's works as well. Many can be downloaded on your Kindle. My assertion is that we must be reasonable and civil with one another, no matter our beliefs. G. Rhodes
This book is not very well written both in terms of the writing itself and in being unconvincing. The author interviews several conservative scholars about many of the common challenges to the Bible and Christian theology and gets their responses. No problem there. The trouble is that the author tries to pretend he is this hard hitting journalist who doesn't pull any punches and rattles his subjects with bull-dog like tenacity and... you get the picture. Well the reality is that he is none of those things. Each interview has the same pattern.
1. Introduce subject 2. Build the credibility of the subject both in the professional and personal sense ("I was expecting an ivory tower dork-wad, but was surprised to find a super smart awesome guy.") 3. Present a series of challenges to Biblical accuracy or Christian theology ("Can the Gospels really be relied upon as accurate?") 4. Listen to the response ("Yes and here is why.") 5. Make slanted statements about any consensus amoung Biblical scholars, "the majority of reputable scholars are fairly comfortable with most of such and such.") 5. Admit that the interview subject is right "Okay, okay, stop pummeling me with your unassailable arguments." "I now see that the weight of the evidence is overwhelming." "I couldn't argue with his rock solid arguments." blah, blah, blah.
No real attempt at counter argument is made. There is no hard hitting journalism. There is no real attempt at cross examination (no pun intended). After about the third interview, I began to actually feel uncomfortable for him in that he was still trying to keep up this charade of confrontational skepticism.
That being said, the book does have some positive aspects. It does provide a good overview of many of the criticisms of the Bible as well as an initial response to those criticisms. I know that you can't present every answer and counter arguement to every issue in one book, but the way it is done just isn't going to be very convincing to anyone. I think that such a weak effort can actually have the opposite of the intended effect and make people more skeptical. As someone who is already a believer, I think we can do much much better than this in terms of defending the Bible and the faith.
Although this is not on the 'approved' LDS missionary library, I read it anyway because of friend of mine asked me to. It was very interesting to see the archeological and historical proof that Strobel had for the life of Jesus Christ. It was also good to understand what kind of proof many Evangelicals want to see before they accept the Book of Mormon as true. However, just because there is historical or archeological evidence supporting the existence of Jesus Christ doesn't prove that he is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. In Matthew 16: 13-17 (KJV) the Savior asks his apostles, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" and they tell him that people have said he is John the Baptist or Elias or Jeremiah or any of the other prophets. Then Christ asks them, "But whom say ye that I am?" and Peter answers, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." to which the Savior replies, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." Likewise it is with us, we might learn history that he did in deed live in Galilee, but until we have had it revealed to us by the power of the Holy Ghost that he is indeed the Son of God and our personal Savior, then knowing he lived 2000 years ago won't do anything to persuade us that he indeed gave up his life on the cross AND took it up again on the third day, thus making it possible for each of our spirits to be reunited with our bodies after death, living forever.
It is no wonder that Christians need primarily to witness to converts because you'd have to be incredibly stupid and/or deluded to think that anecdotes constitute data.
I was challenged by a Christian to read the Case for Christ because I was allegedly making claims that have been refuted in this book as well as in its companion, "The Case for Faith" by the same author. It is hard to decide where to begin. First of all, I did not find one shred of real evidence in favor of Christianity, but that is perhaps because Strobel immediately did himself a disservice by only visiting professionals who have wasted spent most of their lives building persuasive rationalizations that believers could take as permission to continue believing in the face of blatant contradiction. Theologians and apologists are perhaps the last people someone should consult if he or she is looking for objective evidence concerning the validity of Christianity. They wouldn't be very good theologians if they admitted honestly that there is no real evidence--that it is only by faith that Christianity is validated--and so the appeal to religious authority makes this book unconvincing. But there is no discussion as to how we know the Bible is divinely revealed, how we know it can be trusted implicitly, what evidence there is besides what the Bible says that would indicate that Jesus was divine--or that the character depicted in the gospels even existed. It is not enough for Bruce Metzger to assure me that it's all true. If Neil deGrasse Tyson tried to convince me that the Earth went around the sun, it wouldn't just be me taking his word for it--there would be demonstrable evidence to make a truly compelling case. But that is the difference between science and theology: In science there is supporting knowledge, verification and reproducible demonstration; in theology there is only opinions, authority and subjectivity. Science is self-correcting in the face of new information; theology stubbornly refuses new information and believes that the stasis of its doctrines and faith is the only thing keeping it holy.
Second, there is also a real lack of support for much of the claims being made by the interviewees. They make a claim and move on. No real challenge, no verification. Strobel just takes on faith whatever the theologian has presented because there is also no real evidence that Strobel was a real atheist at the outset of his "spiritual journey." But that is just it--Christians seem to delight in debasing their pre-Christian ways by putting what they perceive as the worst possible label on their pre-conversion unbelief: for some it is "satanism," while others just claim to be "atheists." The whole book can be reduced to: How do we know that Jesus is Christ? Because the Bible says so! And so do some obscure historical texts that were written (and probably later edited by Christians for conformity) centuries after the last eyewitnesses passed away. How do we know the Bible can be trusted? Because they Bible says it can be trusted! And if you trust any ancient history, you shouldn't have any problem accepting the truth of the Bible. Unfortunately for Strobel, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and I don't care if Alexander's best biography came 300-500 years after he lived because his biographers aren't claiming he is God's one and only begotten Son in whom I should believe or suffer the eternal torments of damnation.
The only thing I am persuaded of is that this is the kind of anti-intellectual garbage that already-convinced believers give to their young when the young first present doubts so as to stifle any emerging critical faculties that might arise as the youth become adults. Don't think about it. Just take it on faith. Don't rock the boat, just swallow it whole and be grateful that Jesus Christ is Lord and the Holy Spirit can reveal the truth to our hearts! Perhaps the most humorous moment was during the interview with William Lane Craig (Billy the Craig as I call him). Craig's refutation of a criticism is an ad hominem attack that philosophers can't understand the evidence in the same way that a historian does. Never mind that Craig is a theologian and (hack) "philosopher," just take it on faith that secular scholars who earn PhDs in philosophy haven't a clue as to how the discourse of history/historiography functions. It's humorous because I've never seen a theologian who didn't cheat on rational discourse by making the claim that their objective truth is revealed by the subjective experience of Christ in whom all truth is revealed ("For the one who believes...."). That is the only way Christians can establish the "truth" about Jesus and the validity of the church: by changing the rules of logic and the stretching definitions so that they can believe whatever they want to regardless if whether or not that belief is supported by fact.
I read this as a paperback quite early in the 2000's, probably about 2004. I was just emerging fully from my Roman Catholic indoctrination and to be fair to both me and the book, I was highly unlikely to give any constructive or positive comments of Strobel's work at that time.
On YouTube I have watched Lee Strobel on several videos and he is impressive in his defence of his writing, understandably😵! He also presents his "stories" in a friendly, credible manner. As it happens, I don't believe what he says, but I can understand why many people do.
I have also watched William Lane Craig in a number of similar videos and while he is an impressive, highly qualified philosopher of religion, his "in-your-face" presentation "... can best (be) describe(d) as a labored spin-doctoring which is only sustainable by a heady dose of self-delusion, moral inconsistency, and cognitive dissonance." (Randal Rauser - The Tentative Apologist)
I am most unlikely to read, listen to, or view WLC ever again, but I won't say that about Lee Strobel. I am an atheist and I cannot imagine anything, said by any person, will make me consider reversing or even modifying my current view.
None-the-less, I have purchased the latest audiobook version of "The Case For Christ, Revised & Updated", narrated by the author, Lee Strobel. It has downloaded from Audible this morning and I will put it onto my "Reading Now" shelf immediately and listen to it when I can.
The several GR friends with whom I discuss "religion" will understand that I will be better prepared to write critically about this book in the coming months!
1-Star - "I did not like it" Audiobook - 10:49 Hours - Narrator: Lee Strobel I have been listening on and off since mid-September 2020. I have listened to a little under 7:00 hours and I think I have heard enough.
This is my second reading/listening of this book as I had read and completed the paperback in 2004. I was more underwhelmed with Lee Strobel's vocal and mental meanderings in the audiobook than I was after reading the paperback.
However, since 2004 I have read fairly widely on Christianity and the philosophies of religious belief. As a result my enhanced scepticism is firmly rooted in scientific reasoning and my atheism remains quite simply a lack of belief in God or gods.
I want to start out by saying that I am a Christian, baptized & confirmed in the Church and I got this book to read because I saw that there was a movie coming out with this title and I wanted to see what it was about. That being the case, I think this book is utter crap. Strobel did not talk to real biblical scholars. He talked to literalists even though the majority of biblical scholars are convinced that the gospels were not written by who they purport to be written by & the earliest book in the new testament is Paul's letters & he had no direct interaction with Jesus. The New Testament has real truths, it has beauty & poetry but it is not a literal history. The historical Jesus is a fascinating, political, amazing & gritty man of his time, the religious Jesus is the wonderfully spiritual savior for all time but this book is the religious equivalent of a romance novel, with exactly the same depth & scholarship. I find Strobel's book to be the perfect sop for those who want easy answers to difficult questions but not for those who are spiritually mature or for those who like me, are history nerds.
Admittedly, there was very little chance that this book was going to change my skeptical worldview. I think a lot of people cross a threshold of inquiry from which it is impossible to return. Regardless of what Strobel writes in this book, it is clear that he wanted a change in his life, and he only interviewed apologists that would grease his path to faith. To use his somewhat tortured analogy of building a legal case, it is a bit like a trial in which only the prosecution was allowed to present evidence.
My first problem with Strobel is that he is a mediocre writer. There is a lot of shifting in chairs, sipping coffee, leaning forward in excitement, and grinning with confidence. I think that all of this description of his interview subjects is meant to build their ethos, and to create a sense of realism, but what you get is gruelling repetitiveness and a wish that he would just get to the point.
C.S. Lewis is much better, mainly because you get a sense of candor and honesty about his spiritual belief- he not trying to hoodwink anyone, merely express his true faith the best way he knows how. The Case for Christ, on the other hand, is a classic example of card-stacking and argumentative sleight of hand.
Some basic logical problems with the specious reasoning of this book:
1) Strobel argues that the apostles could not have lied about the resurrection without the people of Jerusalem refuting them. Well, most people of Jerusalem DID NOT adopt Christianity. It is entirely possible that they saw this as just another sect that they could ignore. 2) People do not die for a lie - I agree with this. But a lot of religious belief could generously be called delusional - meaning that the early followers of Jesus actually believed in the Resurrection, ignoring contradictory evidence to grasp on to a belief that gave their lives meaning and purpose. The great classic work on religious fervor is William James' "The Variety of Religious Experience". I assume most Christian apologists disregard James, because he clearly shows how people's spiritual experiences can lead them to extreme acts. 3) Strobel never addresses the supernatural vs. materialism piece. How do you bring a dead body back to life? Does it require supernatural "magic", or is there a rational scientific explanation? People for many centuries were absolutely convinced of the existence of witches and demons in their midst. From the modern perspective, these beliefs can be explained away as a lack of understanding of natural phenomena. 4) Christianity spread rapidly through the Roman Empire - which is not proof of the truth of its claims - and coincided with the decline of Rome and the onset of the dark ages. Not exactly an argument in favor of Christianity. 5) He interviews psychologist Gary Collins, who professes a belief in demons as a cause of psychological distress / mental illness. Dr. Collins should have his license revoked. 6) This was the most offensive part: "I shook my head, saddened at the thought of how many other Jewish children have grown up thinking of Christians as their enemies." Does Strobel not know about THE CENTURIES of persecution and slaughter of Jews by Christians, culminating in the Holocaust? Do Jews have no reason to suspect Christians, especially when Christians call them IGNORANT for not embracing the "truth of Christ"?
I would like to hear more about Strobel's supposed "atheism" before he started writing this book. Did he read the great skeptical writers and philosophers? Or was this a canard to draw in unbelievers?
Also, the ad hominem attacks on the Jesus Project as being "radical, left-wing scholars" does nothing to diminish their arguments. Why not interview one of the participants, instead of giving all of the page space to their right-wing critics?
As an agnostic, I don't believe that this conversation will ever be over. What troubles me is that Evangelicals (along with radicals in all religions) are not content to let people alone with their beliefs. Atheists can be just as strident and dogmatic in their desire to convert people. To me, it is interesting that people are drawn to religion - but the individual should have the freedom and autonomy to find his own way through life.
This book was great. My fiance is really into apologetics (defending christianity), and is a fan of Josh McDowell so this was my first book into this topic so I thought it would be interesting to compare this author to McDowell.
Lee Strobel is a former athiest who on finishing this book became a Christian. He was and is an award winning legal journalist for the Chicago Times and has a fantastic resume/experience in journalism and law (from Harvard).
So when his wife becomes a Christian and he notices a few changes to her personality (all positive changes), he seeks to complete a personal assignment on investigating the reliability of Jesus Christ as told in the bible and other secular sources.
As an athiest, but one trained in legal and ethical reporting he takes this task seriously and looks up and visits the most well researched persons in Britian and US re Jesus and has no shame in asking them incrediably hard questions.
As a reader, I had to take breaks often as the authors jargon and the VERY long transcripts of the people he interviews are very thorough and makes you feel like you're in a courtroom.
But his writing is personal as well. As a christian I could totally empathise with his scepticism and his doubts and I enjoyed reading the stories about previous law cases hes been involved with and comparing them to his current topics in each chapter. His research helped me grow in my faith especially the chapters where he studies questions I most often get asked by athiests and have struggled to answer.
No matter what spiritual walk you're on, I make this reccommended reading for anyone who has those same hard questions and are open enough to read the evidence he brings forth from this assignment which obviously convinced him of Christ.
Another book that I had high hopes for that didn't deliver. In fact, I think I have less faith in Christ for having read this book.
Lee Strobel is a journalist who converted to Christianity from Atheism and now makes millions of dollars selling 'The Case For..XXX" books. This book supposedly details his journey from skeptic to believer in which he interviews several different experts on topics related to Christ.
His conclusions are transparent from the outset and I found the scholarship and logic to be extremely lacking. In the end I was left with a feeling of "if this is the best 'evidence' there is, I see no reason to believe Christ was anything more than a wise Jewish preacher who advocated a break from Pharasitical Jewish law and was eventually killed by the Romans.
If anyone else has read or would like to read this book, I'd love to get your take on it.
I agree with the review on the book's back cover which says-" Author Lee Strobel is an award winning journalist at The Chicago Tribune. He received his Master's of Studies in Law Degree from Yale Law School. This is a book about a seasoned journalist who was a spiritual skeptic of one of the Biggest Stories In History - He investigates in this book the question- "Is there credible-evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God? Retracing his own spiritual journey from Atheism to Faith- Lee Strobel cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools like Cambridge,Princeton,and Brandeis who are recognized authorities in their own fields. Strobel challenges them with questions like "How reliable is the New Testament? "Does evidence exist for Jesus outside the Bible?" Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was a true event? Strobel's tough,point-blank questions make this remarkable book read like a captivating, fast paced novel. But it's not fiction!It's a riveting quest for the truth about history's most compelling figure. *"What will your verdict be in-"The Case for Christ?"
I read this years back and admired its systematic and reasoned examination of questions surrounding Christ. I've read it again and loved it even more. It's thorough, direct, comprehensive, organized, and unapologetic. Would recommend to any non-Christian looking to learn more, or any Christian looking to strengthen their faith and confidence.
Reread in January 2017.
May 2018: Just watched the movie, The Case for Christ, made in 2017, which was an incredible representation of this book and Strobel's story. Very good script writing and production, quite unlike most sappy Christian movies nowadays. Go watch it.
I have often been told by Christians to read this book for all the answers about why I should become a Christian. I got the book some time ago but never quite got around to finding time to read it until now.
I am honestly staggered by how poor this book is, it's nothing but wall to wall straw men, special pleading, and quite frankly out and out lies. An example of the lies is the author claims he 'found' Christ while writing this book, then later says he was 'totally won over' by arguments from William Lane Craig years before he even thought about the book, a little research shows he was an evangelical preacher for twenty years prior even to that, I honestly doubt he was ever the sceptical Atheist he claims he was. Another example is he asks the reader to approach the book with an open unbiased mind because (he claims) the book is totally unbiased, but each and every 'expert' he interviews throughout the book is an evangelical writer, each of whom have made a vast amounts of money writing about (and continuing to write about) Christianity, if they say anything against it they stand to lose a fortune, hardly unbiased if you ask me. This is my major problem with this book, it presents itself to be something which it is in fact the complete opposite of.
Strobel himself acts as devil's advocate asking what he laughingly refers to as the 'hard' and 'tricky' questions, but I have *NEVER* heard anybody raise any of these questions because they are all either far too easy to side-step and misdirect, or have been fabricated purely to make the speaker look good by defending against them.
One 'Expert' claims the gospels were written by the disciples immediately after seeing the crucifixion, and everybody agrees with that. In reality the gospels were written much later (Mark around 70AD followed later by Matthew and Luke, and then John coming in somewhere around 120AD), they were also originally unnamed anonymous writings with the names we know them by today only added much later again. This is not some Atheist conspiracy, it is practically universally accepted, so much so it is taught in all but the most extreme of seminary schools all over the world.
Another 'Expert' when asked if it was possible Christ was crazy when he claimed he was the son of god, said people with delusions always have other psychological problems (totally untrue, but we'll ignore that), and proves Christ was totally sane by referencing him crying over the dead body of Lazarus, as any normal person would at the loss of a friend, however he totally forgets that Jesus apparently has the power to resurrect anybody he likes, so isn’t this crying over something so easily fixed actually showing the opposite of what the 'Expert' claimed, it's like getting counselling for dropping your keys rather than just bending over and picking them up. NOTE: I am not saying I believe he was insane, I'm just using this as an example of the poorly thought out arguments presented in this book, and I could continue to give examples, but I see little point in that.
The format Strobel uses throughout the book is; An anecdote about a modern criminal case that bears little more than a superficial passing resemblance to what is to be discussed in the following chapter. Introduce the 'Expert' for that chapter, describing every facet of their education and work history in an attempt to place them as either the top, or only expert in the field rather than just somebody with letters after their name who Strobel knows will 100% agree with his particular beliefs. Ask overly simplified questions. Blindly accept grossly oversimplified answers, usually saying that's so obvious now you explain it, I totally believe you (normally suggesting the reader accept it too without further thought or study). Ask how much the expert loves Jesus (always a great deal, unsurprisingly as they were hand picked for this exact reason).
Each and every point raised in the book is far more complicated than Strobel claims, instead of a single line or two sound-byte where the reader is expected accept without consideration or research, they each deserve much more honest discussion, some with a minimum of a page or two, most with a minimum of a book or two. This again brings us back to planned dishonesty of the book.
This book is clearly designed for people who want to bolster their faith, but not study it, or even think too hard about it, if you fall into this group, get the book now, you'll love it, if not just keep looking. It is often referenced that the average Atheist knows far more about religion than the average theist, the fact so many Christians recommend this book shows that statement to be very accurate. Instead of recommencing this book, Christians should be hugely embarrassed it actually exists!
I really liked this book at the time. It was reassuring to have something so concrete in high school. While I think it was helpful at the time, I find myself not needing it as much at this stage of my life. Hopefully this is because I have moved past the need for an intellectual defense of my faith towards a discipleship under the lordship of Christ based upon who he is as seen in scripture and through the experience of Christians throughout the ages. Ultimately, I think this is a book for Christians. There seem to be very few non-Christians these days who would change their minds in the presence of apologetics. This book may be helpful for those select few.