The Case For Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation Of The Evidence For Jesus

The Case For Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation Of The Evidence For Jesus

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Being a Christian and a student of Communications, I felt compelled to reading The Case for Christ. I decided to use this book for this review especially due to the large amount of criticisms and backlash it had received. Lee Strobel is known for being a hard-nosed skeptical journalist and ex-investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He also described himself as a "former spiritual skeptic" before his personal mission for the proof of God. Skeptics around the world claim that Jesus either never said He was God or He never exemplified the activities and mindset of God. Either way they rather triumphantly proclaim that Jesus was just a man. Some will go so far as to suggest that He was a very moral and special man, but a man nonetheless. For Strobel, there was far too much evidence against the idea of God, let alone the possibility that God became a man. God was just mythology, superstition, or wishful thinking.

Initially what caught my interest were Strobel's "court room" questions with experts in the book, rather than logically bulldozing his way to solutions. To name a few, he grills Catholic lay philosopher Peter Kreeft about the problem of evil, Indian-born evangelist Ravi Zacharias about Christian exclusivism, historian John Woodbridge about oppression in the name of Christ, and other authorities about the truth of miracles, God's callousness in the Hebrew Bible, the Justice of Hell, the challenge of evolution, and the struggle with persistent doubt.

The Case for Christ was written in the style of an investigative report with bluntly asked questions forcing high profile scholars to give understandable arguments to support their opinions and conclusions. Strobel believed this brought complex theological concepts and historical issues down to an accessible level, where he pieced together hard facts through these interviews. "I confront leading evangelical thinkers with the kind of skeptical objections that are shared by many people" he said in an interview with Zondervan Church Source (2005).
In the first section Strobel investigates what he calls the record, where he questions eyewitnesses, gospel accounts and other evidence from outside the Bible. For example asking questions like, "Does archaeology help or hurt the case for Christ?" The second section focuses on the analysis of Jesus Himself. Did Jesus really think He was God? Strobel's investigation of the evidence for Jesus, he uses the Old Testament as a sketch of what God is supposed to be like.

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If Jesus claims to be God, then what we see of Him in the Gospels should mirror the picture of God in the Old Testament. For this purpose, Strobel interviewed Dr. D. A. Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Carson can read a dozen languages and has authored and edited over forty books about Jesus and the New Testament. In the third section of the book, Strobel investigates the resurrection. He examines the medical evidence, explores the implications of the empty tomb, the reliability of the appearances after the resurrection, and the wide-ranging circumstantial evidence.
However, according to Lowder (1999) though interviewing prestigious scholars, Strobel did not interview any critics of Christian apologetics, even though he attacks such individuals in his book. In his interviews of Christian apologists, Strobel occasionally quotes passages from a book critical of Christianity, but he does so only to elicit a response from a Christian apologist. He never quotes passages from works in Christian apologetics to non-Christians, in order to get their response. For example, Strobel devotes an entire chapter to his interview with Greg Boyd (an outspoken faultfinder of the Jesus Seminar), yet Strobel never interviewed a single member of the Jesus Seminar itself. Likewise, he repeatedly criticizes Michael Martin, author of The Case Against Christianity, Michael Martin (1991) but he never bothered to get Martin's responses to those attacks.
Kush K. (2005) believed Strobel emphasized on interviews with Christian experts who according to him are scholars of distinction and know their subject well, yet does not speak to neutral or non Christian sources. Strobel's case is exclusively based on interviews he conducts with Christian "experts" and calls this one sided opinion as testimony.
Strobel did raise all what felt like the right questions. "But what eyewitness accounts do we possess? Do we have the testimony of anyone who personally interacted with Jesus, who listened to his teachings, who saw his miracles, who witnessed his death, and who perhaps even encountered him after his alleged resurrection? Do we have any records from first-century journalists who interviewed eyewitnesses, asked tough questions, and faithfully recorded what they scrupulously determined to be true? Equally important, how well would these accounts withstand the scrutiny of skeptics?" (Chapter 1, pp. 23)
Kush believed the problem was that the standard of his answers do not match the quality of his questions and criticizes that Strobel completely aligns himself with the religious mindset and the book is nothing but a reinforcement of "accepted" Christian belief and scholarship.
On a personal level, a quote from the book I thought was quite subjective was, "If the skeptics do not believe this incredible evidence I have presented, it is because skeptics are prejudiced and do not have an open mind." I felt this statement was harsh, considering his evidence was biased in its reporting. It is hard for me to believe that Strobel believed that he has uncovered convincing evidence in all the categories he enumerates despite his credible statement, "In this quest for truth, I've used my experience as a legal affairs journalist to look at numerous categories of proof - eyewitness evidence, documentary evidence, corroborating evidence, rebuttal evidence, scientific evidence, psychological evidence, and, yes, even fingerprint evidence." (Introduction, pp. 17) In all credibility on the line, the issues The Case for Christ faced was due to Strobel's failure to convince many with his one-sided reporting, and quite simply seen as just justifying already accepted Christian belief.


References
Kush, K., Lee Strobel's Nonsensical "case" for Christ, [http://www.mwillett.org/atheism/strobel.htm] Accessed in 2005.
Lowder, J. J., (1999) The Rest of the Story, Society of Humanist Philosophers
Martin, M., (1991) The Case Against Christianity, Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Strobel, L. (1998), The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus, Zondervan: Michigan.

Zondervan Church Resource, Interview with Lee Strobel, [http://www.zondervanchurchsource.com/instrobel.htm] Accessed in 2005.
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